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He's the Evil Twin, okay?

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When I wrote my first Naruto fanfic, a sweet one about reincarnation and trolling ninja’s whilst safely tucked away in my patisserie…that wasn’t an invitation, Universe…!

Maybe I should explain a bit.

I was 20-year-old History student at Uni and had two much older sisters. Who were also historians. And had already written books and been recognised as stupidly smart.

You see the issue? Anything I did, they’d already done five years beforehand and probably to a better standard. We were all incredibly close and I was in no way angry or resentful but…it did get a bit draining, being the baby. My response? Becoming a fanfic writer/reader.

I’ll grant you, it wasn’t the most conventional way to strike out from being the same as my siblings but it was a breath of fresh air.

I’d never really written much, my old fics rather shitty and my new ones were only just starting to form. But I sure as fuck read a lot. I was still wading through my degree full steam ahead, but the fics were a nice way to let loose a bit.

Nothing got rid of tension than some funny fandom memes on Tumblr.

I’d started off with the basic mainstream ones like Naruto and Harry Potter but, the more I read, the more I stumbled across. Things like Full Metal Alchemist, Boku no Hero Academia, HunterXHunter and Bungou’s Stray Dogs, just to mention a few favourites.

My dive into Rare Pair Hell was both glorious and inevitable.

I accumulated quite the collection of favourite fics on FFN and bookmarks on AO3. And I always really enjoyed S/I’s, to the point where, when I wrote my reincarnation fic, it was on the back on the hundreds of SI/OC stories I’d read beforehand. And I’d seen a pattern, where people seemed to feel they could easily (or not so easily) cut it in a different world.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.

It was super awesome and badass to read about people kicking ass and takin’ names, but I had no illusions that I could do the same thing.

When I’d started ‘Yeah, Kunai…’, it was for the singular purpose of proving that decades of this life couldn’t be so easily shaken in ‘the next one’. And because I loved how people were so happy when you wrote things. But anyway! Just because you could wield chakra and do awesome ninja moves, didn’t mean you could actually kill someone. Murder is murder, people.

So anyway, I wrote this fic.

And then this happened:

“This is an Emergency Announcement: All Passengers are to remain seated, with their seatbelt fastened-”

My flight back from Stockholm was…not great.

Then there was a yell of “BRACE! BRACE!” and we tucked ourselves down like those laminated sheets told us to.

The plane was dropping, I could frickin’ feel it.

It was like when you first took off, the strange weightlessness, like going over the edge of a rollercoaster drop or that moment of flight on a trampoline, before gravity started yanking your ass back down again.

This was considerably less okay than those examples.

We were over the sea, a good few hours into the flight, and my best friend was crying loudly beside me. She was gripping my hand in her left and her phone in her right. I knew, without a doubt, she wished she had signal to call George.

The baby, that was seated two rows in front and had mercifully slept up until now, was screaming so, so loudly. The lights were blinking and the pilot was yelling loudly over the din, I couldn’t make out a word.

That was when it all went very dark. It was a shock of metal, cold, cold into my limbs and then the crack on my head against Sophie’s.

The ringing in my ears was the last thing I knew.

Well, up until I was aware that it was cozy warm again.

Was this...the hospital?

It was dark (I couldn’t really feel my face so maybe my eyes were just closed?) and warm, like a deliciously hot bath. I tried to take a breath, see if I could smell the disinfectant from the sheets or my dad’s cologne or anything.

One tiny issue? I couldn’t take a breath.

Freaking out inside (if I could breath, this would probably be my first panic attack), I made to pat myself down, only I couldn’t really move either.

Was I…paralysed, or something?

No, no, that wouldn’t really account for the not-breathing bit, even in a coma you fucking breathed.

So, what? A dream or…?

No…surely not-

Something bumped into me and if I could have turned to look, I would have popped something in my spine for how much it scared me.

Feeling the way it was pressed against me, I could only assume it was someone else alongside me.

Maybe we were being held together?

I slowly lost consciousness again, my brain so sluggish and slow it honestly scared me.

Then again, these days when wasn’t I nervous?

It must’ve been two weeks – no breathing, no food, very little movement beside my legs shifting, and yet still alive(?) – that I heard them.

Voices!

Quickly, fate decided to fuck me over, when I noted they were in Japanese.

Oh, for the fucking love of-!

Now, I didn’t speak Japanese. I wasn’t bilingual in any sense of the word, unless swears and asking for directions to the toilet counted. All I knew was some stuff from fanfic and Anime, like family names and ‘Nani?’. I’d tried learning old Norse for my degree before I decided to take a break…which I never came back from, hehe.

Remembering how I did this in my fic, I swore revenge on the gods of irony.

I was, evidently, a baby in the womb, reincarnated, whatever you wanted to call it.

And, noting the fact that I wasn’t in here alone?

My best description was…fucked!

……………………………………………………………..

Being a foetus was next-level boring.

I mean, obviously I hadn’t expected it to be a wild ride in here but…damn.

The next few months past excruciatingly slowly. Now, I was a super lazy person but even this was pushing me too far. I was warm and slept a fuck tonne and, when I was awake, I kicked as much as I could. One, to pass the time and two, because I was pissed off at this whole situation. Sorry new mum, it’s not your fault but I’m doing it anyway.

Well, I did kick; up until my twin was a little shit and slowly shifted in front of me. What a fucking kill-joy, they better not be forming bad habits already…!

So, here we were.

With so much time to kill, I’d thought long and hard about what I wanted to achieve here, casting my mind back to all the fics I’d read about coping with reincarnation. Maybe they weren’t the best source for consultation but, well, where else did people have highly rationalised discussions about rebirth coping mechanisms?

Thankfully, after years of furiously working to keep up with my sisters’ brilliance and reading like a hurricane through the various fandoms, I had a pretty sound memory.

I’d thought through everything furiously. I thought about the chances of this being a dream, a coma, anything but real. I thought about if I’d tell anyone, try and examine how this could have happened, if I’d be born anywhere I recognised.

It only took me what felt like a few days to come to the conclusion to fuck it all.

I was going to be okay.

And you know why? Because I wasn’t going to sabotage myself with things like existential crises or mental ages. I was gonna live my life like a fucking boss and no one was gonna try and convince me to tip toe through.

And this would be my life because there was no reason to torture myself thinking I’d somehow shoved myself into someone else’s body, displaced their soul or whatever. I was being reborn, simple as that, and I would fucking get a grip and deal! This would be my life and therefore my family. No comparisons and no strangers. My face would be different from my last one, naturally, but it wouldn’t be a stranger’s.

It would still be me because, I knew, if I looked in the mirror, I’d see myself staring straight back out at me.

These new parents and this twin beside me were going to be new, different. They wouldn’t be ginger and have a beard like my other dad. They wouldn’t be super tall and strong like my other mum, or have freckles everywhere like both I and my sisters had had.

They’d be their own people and I’d hopefully grow to love them. If they were horrible and bad, well then. I’d already had a great family before; those memories would have to see me through and I’d just simply say “fuck you” to these ones.

I wasn’t going to be some sissy and have a mental and emotional breakdown over something I couldn’t control. I’d been famously good back home at rolling with the punches and being a rational person.

I’d be damned if I let a hurdle like this screw me over.

Coming to terms with what I lost was the first step. It would be harder, and even more real, if I waited until I was in the outside world again. So, I’d cried a lot, as much as I could in the womb, and thought about my parents. I felt such a deep regret when I thought of Sophie. She’d been older than me, taking a few years out before Uni, and George had had another year on us both. They were going to move in with each other in the summer, right after Amira’s birthday. (Yes, they did hold a party for their fat, ginger cat.) I thought about the Japanese I’d heard and mourned my own language and culture. But then, I made myself think about kimonos and Tokyo and felt a bit better; I’d always wanted to go there and my cousin had promised to take me out for pocky if I visited him and his boyfriend, but I’d never gotten ‘round to it. I’d lost so much, everything, but I’d be gaining somethings as well. A new life, a new family.

Even if the one I would be joining was a terrible one, I’d hopefully still have the tiny baby beside me out there too.

As the months passed and I gradually came to terms that this was really happening, things started to get a little bit…cramped. My mind helpfully reminded me of all the fucked-up things a damaged umbilical cord could do, horror stories provided by mum and Grammy, as my own and my twins were pressed against us, squashed as we were.

And then, one day, the warm water started moving.

As the daughter and granddaughter of midwives, I’d been a massive idiot and forgotten the most important part of pregnancy.

The birthing bit.

Aww, man!

It was loud and messy and reminded me way too much of the plane.

Whilst I’d read and written about the horror of being born, I had the double issue of a twin. Which meant triple the stress (stress for me, for them and then, also, for the both of us).

I’d never freaked out so much in my life, in both of them. It was exhausting and terrifying and so, when I felt the black creep along the edges of my vision, I bade a strategic retreat from the situation and passed out.

I came to with a slap and a scream.

Fuck, shit, fucking nope-

Wiped down with a cloth that felt like it was sandpaper on my tender skin, I barely even noticed how weird it felt to breath air again. I was, naturally, too busy making sure everyone knew how unhappy I was by screaming like a demon.

Wrapped in swaddling and carried around just added to the flames of my malcontent. Trust exercises were hard enough when you were physically able; being lifted around by giants when you couldn’t move yourself and were the size of a loaf of bread? I was wailing for a cradle or something, just put me the fuck down.

When I was tucked into someone’s chest – I felt boobs, probably mum – I swore that, if I ever had to go through that again, I’d have a heart attack. Mental note- ever help out with a birth in the future? I was going to be as secure and comforting to that new-born as possible. No fucking two handed lifts going on here, I’m talking both arms and against the chest!

Cracking open my eyes was a chore and a half, they felt swollen and wrinkly like I was E.T or something, but I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t born into some crazy planet.

Mum was blurry, like when I’d made the mistake to try and swim without goggles, and the blue blob opposite me was probably my twin. Judging by hospital gender stereotypes with blanket colours, I came to the conclusion I had a bro. Cool, that’s another new experience to add to the books.

Mum looked nice, surprisingly young with flawless (if sweaty) pale skin and spikey ash blonde hair. Paired with her scarlet eyes, I mused that she must be albino or something. The brown blob I identified as dad leaning over her shoulder, was an average looking man with warm coffee hair and eyes and with specs perched on his nose. In all honesty, he looked a bit green but very emotionally happy.

Well, so far so good, I’d say.

My new mum whispered to me and, even though I missed half of what she said, three things stuck out. I absently wondered if I could go back into the womb now please, where I was safe, warm and ignorant.

Kagami…my new name, I guessed.

Katsuki…my brother?

Bakugou….aw, shit.

So much for mum just being an albino, then.

…………………………………………….

I slept an awful lot the next few months.

It was marginally better than being in the womb, at least I could move and breathe and hear etc. Unfortunately, there were also some cons.

Like, ooh I don’t know, being able to hear Katsuki scream and scream and scream?

Now, I was firmly in the fandom boat of ‘Yeah-he’s-a-little-shit-but-he’s-my-shitty-son-so-back-off’ and I knew that he’d done some terrible things and would grow up to be a supremely complicated person. This didn’t change the fact that I adore the little devil and also…he cried so much, sometimes I’d start screaming too just to let out the frustration. He was a handful and that would never change, it was just the way he was. Whilst I knew that there was a chance he’d make a show of disregarding me, like he’d done with his parents, I knew I wouldn’t let him. He might have made a point about ‘not needing anyone’ but he’d still loved his parents and accumulated a group of kick-ass friends as a ‘Baku-squad’. Like, seriously dude? Goals, right there.

And my response to all this shit?

Like fuck was I gonna be left behind.

Katsuki, whilst a thorn in my side with his screaming, was my twin and we were all but glued to each other. We shared a crib, as was recommended with twins, and I woke up from my naps to his smol face.

Whilst screaming was an excellent way to vent my emotions, used as a coping mechanism in some ways, get attention from Kaa-san and Tou-san or just harmonise with my bro, I was in actual fact a very happy baby.

Well, in comparison to some demons…like my brother.

Despite only being 6 months old, Katsuki was a hellion. He threw his food, grinned like he’d successfully summoned Satan and didn’t like words like ‘No.’ In comparison, I was rather sweet. With my memories of running and walking etc., I was able to start crawling from a reasonably young age. Without the worry of looking like a child genius and then hurried through the system to be an assassin, *cough* Naruto *cough*, I let loose a bit. Katsuki made a mess? I made sure I was firmly as innocent as possible by moving the fuck away.

The babyish betrayal on my twin’s face when he started to understand how I was never getting into trouble, even when I helped, was adorable and I savoured it. It was nice to know that he didn’t underestimate me.

Now, you would’ve thought I’d use my brains to get my brother out of trouble.

Nope.

Katsu, in the anime, would grow up arrogant and self-important, from a lifetime of not being in trouble and excused because of the power of his quirk. He could deal with some scolding and control, in my eyes. Also, making him acknowledge me as an equal in strength was an absolute must. And anyway, if he was left to run amok, then there was no way he’d grow. I’d loved who he was in the anime but I wasn’t going to let him grow up so…isolated. His mindset had been different from most, basing people on strength etc., and I wasn’t sure that was just from his treatment as a child. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to let him get away with misbehaving. I needed him to understand what he couldn’t just do as he wanted as much as I needed to exert myself as not another of his ‘stepping-stones’ from a ridiculously young age. I didn’t think he needed ‘fixing’ as much as he needed to know I understood how he saw and was making sure I fit into his world the way I wanted to.

When we were older I’d have to be much better about it. He was my brother and I loved him. As a baby though, he’d probably never remember this and he’d never really understand what was happening anyway. But babies were super susceptible to guidance etc. at this age so hopefully, I was making a social and mental impact.

So, aside from looking like a normal kid to my parents and a genius to my brother, life was really normal.

Well, if you ignored the Hero fights that were always broadcast on the news.

It was so strange, living a manga/anime as real life. Things weren't like the animation- they were fucking real and seeing All Might in real life?

I fucking choked. How the hell were his eyes still shaded like that?! Not to mention how huge he was? And the villain behind him?

I’d never laugh at Men In Black again…well, if I ever got to watch it again.

The villain – guy? Dude? Girl? I don’t know – had purple spikes, like crystal, growing out of his spine like some alien porcupine. I was just getting into the fight when mum let out a curse and turned over.

Aww, he was just pulling one out of his shoulder, probably to use as a sword!

I got that, for babies, it wasn’t exactly U-rated but Jeeze! It was just getting good…

Mum, for all her swears, was a responsible parent. So was dad, although he had bonus points for doing most of the cooking and not having a potty mouth.

Boo, for me, then.

Despite making me bored by turning off fights, Mum and dad were really nice. They talked a lot to us and laughed loads as well. I mean, I didn’t really understand what was being said but I guess it was the thought that counted. Even if it just made me super aware of the hell that would await me when it came to learning the language properly. Grr.

Both of our parents were fashion designers, from what I could tell. I didn’t think Mitsuki’s job had ever been mentioned in the anime or manga but, from the amount of help she provided dad, I could only guess they must work together in some way.

Or maybe she was like me and just liked clothes.

They were both stay at home workers, except when dad occasionally met with his team to hash out the latest designs, and everything was very domestic. Mum left to go food shopping a few times a week and we’d had a nice babysitter what us a few times when they went out for tea. The babysitter, a nice lady from across the street called Suki, could make coloured bubbles from her skin. They all smelled different when popped (pink for strawberry, green for grass, etc.) and I thought she was lovely. I’d pop as many pink as possible (she quickly twigged on and started making just those ones for me) so I’d reek of strawberries for days after. Katsu wasn’t all that impressed with her but I liked her! She’d put on the T.V when it was our bedtime and that was the majority of outside interaction we really got. I was relieved for the reprise, knowing the drama that would await us in a few years, and, in celebration for a normal baby-hood, made a point of getting Katsu into the habit of letting me hold his hand (so much so that he started holding his hand out when I was next to him – score!).

Sadly, my days of laziness would face a new challenge: walking.

I’d been trying to for ages, hating not being able to control where it was I was going, but I’d wanted to know just for my sake. I still wanted to be carried everywhere like a queen, thank you very much! And that’s where I hit a road block.

When we were almost a year old, mum caught me trying to stand.

It had been an honest accident – I mean, I’d been crawling for months – but now the cat was out of the bag. And then, Katsuki, not to be outdone, the little shit, immediately tried to join me where I was holding onto the coffee-table legs.

The sight of the two of us, holding onto the table legs for dear life in our matching baby-grows and scowls, was evidently too much and Kaa-san barked out a laugh before calling for Tou-san.

The encouragement to walk was heavy from that point on and, two weeks later, katsu just about managed it.

In true fashion, he did it walking away, rather than to, our waiting parents. (That he was walking towards me was, *cough*, besides the point.)

Shown up by a baby, I resisted the urge to throw my biscuit at his head. My self-pride reared up and I found myself awkwardly stomping to meet my twin half way instead.

It felt like that bit in WALL-E, when the captain walks again, in all honesty.

A camera shutter had us blinking in union at Masaru, holding hands for structural support, and forever immortalised in our onesies and matching spikey hair.

Did I mention that we were identical?

Well, at least I knew there was an extremely good chance I’d grow up smoking hot (in more than just one way, hehe).

By the time we were almost two, Katsuki had started speaking in earnest and I was…awkwardly trailing along behind.

It wasn’t my fault, okay? I just…I’d always struggled with languages and this one was even harder. Nothing was similar to English, not the spelling and not the structure- at least I’d had that with French! So yeah, I was stuck being the smart but quiet one whilst Katsu did all the speaking. And that boy, I swear damn, not the best for charming-points.

Even as a toddler, my brother was brash and arrogant. Sure, it was just the self-assurance and loudness of kids but, when stood next to me, I looked like the typical manga girl. You know, the shy and intellectual type who blushes and gasps at the slightest bit of attention or human contact.

R.I.P. my kick-assery.

So, to compensate for this, I made a point to learn as much as I could about the language. Downside? It was boring as fuck and I wanted to kill a bitch (preferably the one who sent me here) but, the upside? When Katsuki was told off for imitating mum and saying ‘fuck’ the first time, I silenced the room by saying ‘shit’.

We were both sent to our room with no dessert but, seeing the impressed smile on katsu’s face? Ooh, so frickin’ worth it.

After my little show, our parents did a little reassessment of me, from what I could tell. The next time we went out to play, Katsu was still looking smug and I indulged him. He’d never, thankfully, treated me as or seen me like a dead weight. I mean, sure I was the older one by 3 minutes but Katsu was louder (not really by choice, I know) and it would have been easy for anyone to be overshadowed.

Katsu, however, knew better. He’d never, ever been without me and I knew he could see my smarts behind my eyes. I might not be able to say all that much, but the boy knew I wasn’t a push about either. I’d never once stood down or back from him, never walked behind him and never so much as blinked at his tantrums.

The swearing had just been proof to him that he was right about me all along.

Ahh, who knew swearing was the way to Katsu’s heart, ay?

Remembering an awesome ‘Kacchako’ comic on Tumblr, I let out a little giggle. So, maybe I wasn’t the first then.

When we were almost three, I spotted a woman with green hair in the park. Even in a world of Quirks, I’d recognise that head anywhere and, knowing the plot, I knew it must be her.

Inko!

I couldn’t believe it, Izuku was here! I knew he’d known Katsu since before their quirks (or lack thereof) emerged but hot damn, this was young. Fucking hell, I wasn’t emotionally ready for this. Ah, warning; major plotline ahead! I internally screamed.

This was very different to my reactions to Katsuki and our parents. I’d had months in the womb to get used to the idea of a twin and new family. That that family just happened to be the Bakugou’s was a shock to the system and that my twin was Katsuki? My hot-headed baby?

I’d been beyond surprised. But then I’d had years as a baby to grow with them and they were mine now, just as much as my last family had been.

Izuku was just…Izuku.

He was the central character of the whole storyline, the Quirkless boy who got a Quirk and had to deal with the legacy, basically. He was such a bundle of emotions and everything that I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry, try and smother him in love or just run for the hills.

Gahhh!

I glanced around and, noting that my twin was waiting for me to follow him to the climbing frame, I set off after him, mind still whirling.

And that was another can of worms.

Kacchan and Deku…dare I interfere?

I knew myself well enough that, at the first sign of bullying or anything, I’d be in there like a shot.

Thinking back to the day Izuku was revealed as Quirkless, I knew I’d be stood in between him and the others in a heartbeat.

I could only pray that Katsu wouldn’t hate me for it.

 

Chapter Text

Climbing frames were Katsu’s favourite bit in the playground. Whilst I loved the sandpit (I loved just squishing the wet sand, so satisfying), Katsu liked to move, and climb, and race to the top.

I just…didn’t really like, err, heights.

I’d been a bit nervous around them before, not liking super high bridges or those fancy glass elevators. And then, with the…drop…of the plane-

Well, I wouldn’t be flying for a while.

But then, Katsu would smirk down at me like he was winning some kind of competition from wherever he’d gotten to and I’d feel the intense need to drop-kick him down to second place. And then, before I knew it, my hands were reaching up to grip the ropes and I was lugging my little body after him. We must’ve looked adorable, two identical grinning blondes (Katsu in tan shorts and a red tee whilst I wore the same T-shirt under my tan dungarees) hanging off each other like monkeys.

The ropes burned my hands as I slowly scaled the Spider Frame, swinging wobbly on the longer ropes and slowly shuffling round the kids in my way. I was halfway up to Katsuki, maybe a meter off the sandy ground, when a yelp sounded behind me. Someone slipped on the rope and bumped into my back with a soft “oof!” and I grasped desperately at the frame, staring down at the sand below as I swayed.

“S-sorry!” A voice quivered behind me, little hands tugging on my top to pull me back upright.

“It’s fi-,” I sighed, turning around to freeze at emerald curls. “-ne.” I blinked a few times, taking in how his eyes watery slightly with nerves.

“I’m Kagami,” I grinned, trying to look as approachable as possible, “And that’s my twin Katsuki up there!” I pointed at where my brother was holding onto the highest pole like King Kong, grinning like a psycho. What a cutie.

“I-Izuk-u,” He smiled back, shy and still a little guilty. I leaned over and tugged on his hand, pulling him along as I carefully shuffled around the next pole.

“Shall we try and catch up to Katsu, ay?” I encouraged, already leaning up the grip the next rope. The other boy nodded vigorously, gripping my hand in genuine excitement. His small fingers were clammy but I held onto them tightly anyway. Izuku was proving to be just a much a sweetheart as in the anime.

It took us quite a while, slow and careful and faithfully waiting for each other at each new band. But, eventually we caught up to my brother, who was viciously defending his post at the highest spot from some other boys.

“Katsu!” I called and his eyes immediately latched onto mine. Glancing to my new friend, I noticed how my twin’s eyes tracked to where I clasped hands with Izuku. “This is my new friend, Izuku!” and the green-haired boy flushed crimson in embarrassment.

Neither boy said anything and I rolled my eyes at these two dorks. With a put-upon sigh when Katsu spontaneously started talking about how he was king on the climbing frame, I settled in to watch as the other boys, the ones trying to get him to move earlier, listened with rapt attention.

A glance out the side of my eye showed how Izuku was beaming in delight at Katsu’s enthusiasm and then another game was suggested on the way down, something to do with tag and safe zones.

When we all started (slowly, on my part) descending, I immediately bagsied being ‘It’.

Most people had a thing about not being ‘It’, feeling left out as everyone ran away from them. I’d been like too, as a kid, almost panicking as I ran desperately after my friends as they laughed and had fun.

Now, it was the most perfect opportunity to wreak all the havoc I wanted~

“Tag!” I crowed happily, slapping Katsu between the shoulder blades for the fifth time, before booking it to the nearest tree, snickering at his growl of fury. Hearing panting behind me, I flicked a glance over my shoulder to see Izuku’ s grin as he followed along behind.

“Here, quick!” I breathed, grasping his equally clammy hand in mine and pulling us both to squat on the other side of the trunk. “Shhh!” I giggled, buzzing from the excitement of riling my twin up.

We giggled happily anyway.

All I could think was that Katsu was so funny to when he got frustrated and Izuku had the most adorably infectious grin. He was nervous but such a happy child and the lack of nerves or fear made me almost deliriously happy.

“Izuku!” A warm female voice called, making the boy beside me jerk in surprise. We turned in union to see an equally emerald-haired woman walking up behind us. She smiled when she caught sight of us, her large eyes twinkling in the sunlight that filtered through the leaves. “Hello, and who’s this?” She asked, looking between the two of us as we straightened up.

“Bakugou Kagami, hi!” I grinned, bowing politely before bopping back upright to bounce on my toes.

I loved Inko!

Emerald eyes widened in surprise.

“Bakugou?”

Unfortunately, the moment was shattered by the arrival of a katsu-shaped meteor.

“Grr, KagAMI-!” He growled in my ear as he threw himself at me and I went down like a sack of potatoes with a yelp. Inko and Izuku were both panicking above us as we rolled on the grass and I mentally waved our peaceful meeting goodbye.

Now, Katsuki and I weren’t trying to kill each other. Despite Katsu’s, err, energetic disposition and my propensity to troll him, we were firmly in each other’s back pockets. So, as we rolled around, we were just having a bit of fun.

Of course, to the Midoriya’s, we looked like two wolf cubs attempting cannibalism.

“OI, Brats!” Kaa-san’s voice called to us from across the playground and I immediately jerked to look as our mother marched over. Catching sight of the green-haired duo, Mitsuki’s stride stuttered in surprise when she undoubtedly recognised Inko.

The rest was, as you say, history.

After explaining that she did not, in fact, raise us like animals, Mitsuki and Inko ended up talking for…ages.

I knew they knew each other, that my parents and Inko had been old friends, but I was starving, dammit!

 

When I started whining (I was a kid, I’d bloody well use the excuse to be a brat as much as I wanted), leaning heavily on Katsu as we lay on the grass nearby, I mentally counted down how long it would take before Katsuki got so annoyed and demanded money for snacks.

“Urgh! Fine,” he growled, five minutes later, and I grinned evilly.

Bingo!

“Kaga’s starved, old hag,” My brother rolled his eyes, hands shoved deep into his pockets. I sat up and stuffed my fist in my mouth to muffle my sniggers at Mum’s expression- he’d never called her that before-!

“What?!” Mitsuki squawked, one distracted hand coming up to feel the impossible-smoothness of her face, ignoring the fact her Quirk meant she looked permanently airbrushed.

“Kaa-san!” I decided I’d been evil enough for one day and started in on the damage control. “We’re ‘ungry, can we ‘ave lunch?” I blinked cutely but, seeing as I was one half of the terrible Bakugou Twins, the effect wasn’t all that compelling. “Please?”

Okay, Okay.

I know. Some god out there is fucking laughing at my lisp-

But, I was just going to move past it. And anyway, it was pretty selective, a side effect of my spotty knowledge of Japanese instead of an actual speak impediment.

I’m sure it would just…sort itself…out…*ahem*.

Izuku, what a cutie, chipped in at that point, blurting out in that rambling way of his that he hadn’t eaten either and perhaps we could go get food together and-

Needless to say, we got some ice-cream from a nearby vendor.

………………………………………………

After that first meeting with Izuku, Inko and Kaa-san seemed determined to reconnect their friendship. This, naturally, meant that the three of us kids were really thrown together.

I still hadn’t worked out if they thought we all liked each other than much or if they just wanted chill-out time for themselves.

…Knowing Inko’s character, I was inclined to go with option one and give my own folks the benefit of the doubt.

Despite my presence, Katsuki and Izuku still developed a strange dynamic. Where the shy boy seemed to find my brother brave and heroic, Katsu basked in the attention given to him. I’d always treated Katsuki like my equal and now that Izuku was looking up to him, Katsu was getting a bit smug (*cough* a lot). They spent hours play-acting as All Might, running around like lunatics. If we were outside, like at the park or wherever, I’d join in. But, if we were at home, I’d beg and plead for mum to turn on the news so I could watch the latest fights.

Watch the real-life fights was a thousand times more exciting that pretending, any day in my books.

Kaa-san was still annoyingly responsible, turning over if things got too violent or she felt I was being “anti-social”. Tch, I was just, err, learning about Quirk culture?

Izuku and I got on pretty well though, even if I think my being a girl made him a bit nervous and he admired Katsu so much. I was definitely the calm one, when I could be bothered, between the three of us. Izuku was extremely excitable, bouncing around like he was on a permanent sugar-rush. Katsu, on the other hand, could get a bit rough. I could deal, having done my fair share of sports and rough-housing with cousins before, but I was conscious of how sweet Izuku was. Not that he was a wimp or anything, but he was as quick to both laughter and tears as Katsuki was to anger.

When Izuku started calling him ‘Kacchan’, I grinned at my brother’s annoyed face like the cat that got the cream.

Ha! My expression seemed to say, look who’s got a best friend, Mr ‘Superior’.

And that was what happened up until we started nursery, playdates most days. Inko didn’t work, as far as I could tell, and I’d yet to meet or hear of Hisashi, so we spent a lot of time together.

When we started nursery the following April, I felt the anticipation increase. And it wasn’t just because Katsu and I were starting or that we’d the oldest in class.

Katsu and I were turning 4 on the 20th.

Now, I knew that Quirks could take a while to develop and that the chances I had a Quirk were extremely high. I mean, Katsuki and I were genetically identical; not only were our toes the same, but the chances that we could even have the same Quirk were high too.

But, I couldn’t help and think about any unpredictable side-effects of reincarnation, besides the obvious memory thing. I mean, I’d lived my entire life last time with no special abilities, in a world that had no special abilities. What if, somehow, that made me Quirkless or something?

Now, I had zero issues whatsoever with being Quirkless. I’d lived my previous life technically Quirkless so I wasn’t exactly missing something. I knew it would be completely different here, the stigma was something extremely difficult to handle and it was different, being ‘left out’ than where everyone was ‘gifted’.

And I wanted to be a Hero.

If I had a Quirk, not only was there no way in hell I was letting Katsuki follow the Plot without me (at the very least, I needed to be there) but I didn’t want anyone else to have their lives cut off so quickly, as mine had been. I wanted people to live a long fulfilling life, as corny as it kind of sounded.

And if I was Quirkless? Of course, I would 300% need to stick a massive two fingers up at the system. That wasn’t really what I was worried about. Sure, it would be extremely hard but, well, I’d already died. Any other bullshit could go screw itself.

I was more concerned about Katsuki.

I’d gone to great lengths to ensure that my brother had fit his world view to include me as an equal. And, if I was Quirkless, I just didn’t know what I’d do.

Would he react like he had to Izuku? Would he try and protect me, thinking me weak and unable to protect myself? The idea that he could reject me was deeply terrifying. Since realising what was happening in the womb, I’d planned everything around including my twin in my life.

If Katsu reacted badly and tore that grounding rock away from me? I wasn’t sure how I’d cope.

I didn’t know and I didn’t like that I didn’t know at all.

“Kaga!” Kaa-san called for me, “Are you ready to go yet?”

Fiddling with the hem of my dress, I yelled back that I’d be down in a minute, tugging my ponytail straight.

Living in an anime was so weird.

Nothing was animated, it was like real-life in every way because it was real life. And Katsuki’ s hair was impossibly spikey, yes.

Thankfully, my hair was considerably longer and, when I attacked it each morning with a hairbrush, I could get it back into a ponytail with a sleekness that could rival the work of Best Jeanist. Unfortunately, because it was still quite short, my hair was like a spikey albino pineapple at the back but, well, kudos to me for trying.

For nursery, I had to wear the stupid uniform. Thankfully, the baby blue pinafore dress made my ash hair and scarlet eyes pop and I was quite satisfied with the effect. Hey, just because I died and was a brat now, didn’t mean I’d lost my sense of style. Then again, because kids were monsters and my twin was the worst of the lot, I also had to wear a pair of short navy shorts underneath.

This girl be flashing no one.

Satisfied that I looked nicely put together, I ran down the stairs, using the end of the banister to swing ‘round the corner and propel myself into the kitchen.

Katsuki was wolfing down something that had obviously been breakfast at some point – before he’d destroyed it with chilli sauce and the chilli flakes that Tou-san had learned to put next to his plate.

“Morning,” Tou-san looked up from his rice to smile at me, already shuffling some designs next to him on the table. I grinned ruefully back, internally sighing over the hell that awaited me.

As the youngest child before by…a lot…and the youngest of my cousins, too, I wasn’t really used to kids.

Obviously, Katsu and Izuku were different because they were characters I’d already loved and so, tolerating their youthfulness wasn’t so much a trial as it was a source of amusement. But other random brats?

Someone save me.

It wasn’t just that, language issues aside, I was so much smarter than the rest. I was also so much more emotionally developed. Well, I was mentally matured enough to be able to reason with this body’s traitorous responses, like emotions and hormones (not just yet, but one day), so it felt like I was more emotionally mature.

I wasn’t an adult stuck in a baby’s body, after all. Except for my memories, mature outlook and personality, I was living life like the toddler I was.

Ergo, when I hit puberty? I wouldn’t feel like a creep/cradle robber! Yay for me! Now, the chances of me dying alone unless I got a ‘sugar-daddy’ were considerably lower!

I plonked myself down next to my brother, idly crinkling my nose at the shit he was eating (god, I couldn’t wait for the day he became a fantastic cook) and pulled my fruit towards me.

I’d lived in Europe in my previous life and I just couldn’t get my head around the traditional Japanese breakfast fare. This was the 21st Century, obviously I could have had cereal, but my folks seemed to like the whole ‘rice etc.’ family breakfasts and Katsu certainly couldn’t pour chilli on his cereal.

Wait, or could he? On second thoughts, I didn’t need those mental images-

When we’d all eaten, our folks walked us to school.

The nursery was a ten-minute walk, cutting across the nearby park. Izuku was going to go to the same place as us, living only around the corner from our house in a nearby apartment block. The school was a reasonably small one for one in the city, from what I’d eaves-dropped from our parents, and had an older school annexed onto it.

Joy.

I’d probably end up going to the ‘same’ school for the next decade. Urgh.

The place itself looked alright, like any other generic school I’d seen. You know the look; large building, courtyard and grassy playing field. There were loads of brats and their parents milling about the place, undoubtedly saying a last ‘bye’ to their families before we were called to line up to go in.

As soon as we arrived, Masaru spotted the Midoriya’s and tugged the rest of us along behind him, his broader frame easily manoeuvring through the small crowd of parents.

“Inko!” Tou-san smiled, never more at ease than when he was at home or talking to his childhood friend. I guess that was the effect those close to you could have on usually nervous dispositions. The other woman smiled brightly in greeting, taking a moment to wish my brother and I a good day before Kaa-san sucked her into conversation. Izuku was bouncing around like he had springs on his soles and, whilst Katsu rolled his eyes, I merely grinned at his excitement.

Sweet~

We’d barely been there for 5 minutes when a loud whistle sounded and our parents were sending us off with expectant expressions and final words (well, Izuku got ‘have fun!’, I got ‘play nice’ and Katsu, naturally, got ‘Behave-!’).

Taking the lead, my brother marched onwards, like a King into his castle, with Izuku trailing half a step behind him. The only reason I didn’t fall behind was because of the hand that Katsu reflexively allowed me to grab. Good to see my training wasn’t wearing off any time soon.

Our classroom was buttercup yellow and filled with adorable little baby desks. The teacher, a tall brunette man in his late 30’s called Yosano-sensei, was perpetually cheerful and had a wonderful attitude for teaching children, as far as I could see.

It really pissed me off.

Ignoring reading, writing and recent history (where, as far as I could tell, the two worlds were completely the same up until the first Quirks emerged 50-or-so years ago), I already knew all this bullshit!

Predictably, school wasn’t great for me.

And, just to top everything off, two days later, Katsuki got in a fight.

Some older brats bumped into him and bam! Katsuki, seeing it as them all but begging for a fight, proceeded to try and bash the living daylights out of boys almost twice his size!

Grr! What was I going to do with that boy?!

Even worse was the fact that he won. Now, if Katsu got hurt or looked like he was going to lose, I’d have been in there like a bullet from a gun and just as damaging. But, the fact that he won only made him insufferably smug and the nearby group of boys, ones we occasionally saw around and were in our class, now thought Katsuki was the best thing since sliced bread.

This group included Izuku.

Do you see where this is going?

I’d like to think that my presence had done my brother some serious good. He was less self-absorbed and seemed to be much more tolerant than the anime/manga had led us to believe. Despite his rough outsides, he was a bit of a softy when it came to me and I was honest enough with myself to admit I was a sucker for him as well.

Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Maybe I had changed some things.

But I wasn’t confident, couldn’t be confident, until I saw if I could stop events in their tracks.

And that was my queue.

“-just a Deku-”

“I think ‘Dekiru’ suits him better, Katsu.”

The group froze, the trio of boys who stood behind my brother, and Izuku who stood in front of him, stopping Katsuki from beating on a body who’d stopped fighting back.

It was Katsuki I was watching though. The blonde boy had frozen completely and, even though I could only really watch the tension of his shoulders, I could easily imagine the look on his face. We all stood, strangely suspended, for a moment or two before I made my way closer and Katsuki turned to glance at me over his shoulder.

“What’s it to you, eh?!”

I shot him a narrow-eyed look, letting him know how unimpressed I was, as I stretched out my hand for Izuku’ s. When he slowly took mine, looking like he didn’t really understand the silent exchange between us twins, I was unhappy to note how cold and sweaty he felt. That was fear and dread, not excitement.

The other boys mumbled behind me about how it was ‘just a joke’ and ‘why was I over reacting?’ and I was pretty sure one of them mumbled to Katsuki to ‘do something about your sister’. Ha, I’d like to see any of them fucking try. I didn’t even blink, having no patience for little brats who followed the strongest leader. I didn’t give people who fought like a pack of wolves, many against one, the time of day.

Call it left-over etiquette from my fencing and Karate, but I hated dishonourable fights. (The reason behind those particular sports was that my dad had insisted that we all learned self-defence – ergo, Karate – and my eldest sister took up fencing at Uni when I was just 7 and so, desperate to be just like her, I took it up as well. I ended up starting both from a very young age. This body might lack the strength or muscle-memory, but I knew what to do with my body, even if it didn’t automatically remember.)

I was in a particularly unforgiving mood and Katsuki seemed to notice, staring at me hard before he rolled his eyes and moved away, acting like he didn’t give a shit. He played it cool as he walked away with those boys trailing after him, waving it off, and I pretended for my own peace of mind that I hadn’t just challenged my brother in a power play.

There would be repercussions to this, I was sure.

But, looking at Izuku’ s hopeful and genuine smile as I led him away from the other boys, I couldn’t regret interfering in the slightest.

…………………………………………………………..

A week before our 4th birthday, Katsuki got his Quirk.

And he got it fighting with me.

And then I got my Quirk.

And then our sofa caught fire.

Maybe I should explain a bit more~

We were talking about Heroes, Katsu slumped beside me on the sofa as I was absorbed in the latest fight on TV, when Katsuki announced that he was going to be a Hero, Number One, to be exact.

Only half paying attention, I replied that I wanted to be a Pro as well.

And suddenly, Katsuki was 300% alert, jerking upright and elbowing me sharply so I’d turn to face him.

“What do you mean you’re going to be a Hero?!”

Frowning, I wondered if he really was all that smart if he needed me to repeat myself.

“I meant exactly w’at I said, duh!” I rolled my eyes, scooching forwards on the sofa as I turned back to the sludge-villain on TV. In hindsight, it was obviously a mistake to dismiss my brother so easily. Not only did I take my eyes off him but I undoubtedly wounded his ego by dismissing him so thoroughly-

“Like hell you are!” and then I went flying, an almighty shove knocking me from the sofa and onto the carpet. Before I hit the ground, I’d tangled a hand in the nearest thing attached to Katsu to bring him down with me, already growling with annoyance.

Unfortunately, that just happened to be his hair.

With a snarl, we ended up fighting like wolf-cubs on the carpet, rolling back and forth and knocking over the coffee table.

When Katsu drew back his hand for a punch, it exploded in a shower of sparks and a cloud of thick, black smoke.

The two of us were sent flying back from each other; Katsuki hit the sofa and I skidded along the carpet a good few feet. The living room filled with smoke and my eyes were tinging from the sudden flash of light from the fire.

My parents’ footsteps came thudding from the back of the house, where they’d been in Tou-san’s study, yelling our names as they sprinted closer.

Unfortunately for them, the two of us were really pissed now. Katsuki, probably a bit trigger happy now that he had his Quirk, was already up and raring to go again. And there was no way he couldn’t know that his sneak attack, one on my turned back, had pissed me off.

Also, what kind of brother tries to explode their sister’s face off?!

It was a bloody miracle I still had a face!

When Katsuki raised his arm to block my punch, his skin skidded across my knuckles and my entire fist burst into flames.

“Arghhhhh!” I screamed, leaping back and staring at the fire that burned for another few seconds before appearing to extinguish itself, disappearing as if it had never existed and leaving no marks on my skin.

“What the FuCK?!” Kaa-san roared like a dragon, marching in and surveying the damage we’d dealt.

The sofa was singed badly, smoke streaking along the carpet and there was a clear explosion blast market in the centre of the room. The coffee table was knocked over and our clothes were pretty singed too.

Tou-san hurried in after mum, running his eyes over the two of us before reaching out to physically check us over.

“What the hell did you two do?”

Katsuki was staring at me, obviously still raring for a fight, but I could also detect the worry lucking behind those scarlet eyes. Kaa-san was crouched in front of him, somehow simultaneously shouting at him for his part in destroying her house and asking him what happened.

At that moment, Dad’s hand reached for mine and, as soon as we made contact, my fingers caught fire again. Terrified, I leapt back with a shriek. What the hell was this? Could I not touch people?

It was only then that I noticed that – despite my own lack of injury – from even the briefest contact, dad and Katsuki had blistered from where I touched them. I failed to stifle my whimper, cradling my hands to my chest.

“Oh, Kagami,” Masaru whispered, taking in how I stared at my hands like they weren’t even mine. “Come on, let’s go to the doctors.”

………………………………………………………………

‘Skin Spark’ is what they called it.

Whilst Katsuki’ s Quirk, ‘Explosion’, combined our parent’s quirks in his hands, allowing him to sweat nitro-glycerine which he could ignite at will, I inherited both in a much less manageable way.

Like mum, I secreted the main effect of my Quirk over my entire body.

The rest…was all dad.

Bakugou Masaru’s Quirk, ‘Oxidising Sweat’, allowed his hands to catch fire when subjected to enough friction. ‘Skin Spark’ multiplied this effect all over my body; it meant that, whilst I could touch my own skin, once other peoples’ came into contact with me, a kinetic reaction occurred and that area burst into flames. Mercifully, inanimate objects – like my clothes or the frickin floor – did not contain enough passive kinetic energic to spark a reaction, even if they were rubbed with static. Which was weird, but I wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. The flames seemed to have no negative effect on me and, as proved by Katsuki’ s explosion, I had a slight tolerance to other forms/sources of fire. Basically, I could get physically hit but I couldn’t actually burn (singed, yes. Burned, no; Something to do with my own explosive secretion having a cancelling effect on my skin.)

Of course, all this medical and scientific jargon was said for my parents.

All they aimed at me was ‘Your skin catches fire when touched! Be careful, okay!’.

As for my twin, his own Quirk was still activating randomly (I wondered if that was a simple lack of control or if he was just that angry) and the Doctor had ended up handing him two large pieces of ice to hold, one in each had, to cool down his sweat glands and temporarily stop his Quirk.

Katsuki was extremely quiet beside me. Would I ever get to hold his hand again, skin on skin? Needless to say, I burst into tears.

It wasn’t fair. I’d just been reborn, ripped from everything thing I’d known; why the hell did I have to get a Quirk that isolated me? Was this to be my fate; slowly becoming touch-deprived? Our parents looked pale and stressed and, as I watched, Tou-san put a comforting hand on Katsu’s shoulder. Like the selfish person I apparently was, all I could think was that he wasn’t able to do that to me anymore, not unless I was all covered up.

Desperately, casting my mind around for any distraction, I told myself to fucking suck it up. Midnight had to cover her skin, right?

She can turn it off, though.

Izuku’ s going to live his childhood getting beaten down for being Quirkless! And think of Uraraka, she’s probably miserable because of all the things she’s accidently floated off into space, dropped and then broken and Tokoyami’s got to learn to control Dark Shadow!

Let’s not even mention the fact that Hagakure is going to turn completely invisible and then deal with the repercussions that come when no one can see you and there’s no point styling your hair in the mirror anymore-

Phew, Okay, okay. I could do this, I could deal.

“Will I get gloves?” I piped up, accidently interrupting my mum as she asked about the effects of temperature (thankfully, this was limited- unless I was set on fire and, even then, I’d just do a bad imitation of the Human Torch and live, if naked and very sore.)

The doctor turned to me in surprise before trying for a comforting smile.

“Err, yes, Kagami. The hospital will provide you with a pair of gloves but,” and here he turned to exchange a serious look with our parents, “We would heavily suggest you invest in something much more long-term, preferably manufactured from a Hero company. At the very least until we know for sure if she’ll ever be able to ‘turn it off’, so to speak.”

As the appointment ended, all I could focus on was the fact the Katsuki hadn’t said a word since our Quirk’s emerged.

Chapter Text

Dinner was really, really quiet that evening.

Kaa-san had made super spicy chicken noodles – Katsu’s favourite and I liked it, too– and tried to fill the silence with meaningless chatter, scolding us when noodles flicked sauce all over our chins and grilling Tou-san over some design. She talked to me about gloves, as if it changed nothing, and how we’d go shopping tomorrow for a jumpsuit until I learned control.

The certainty in her voice, as if there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that I could get a grip on this, made me blink furiously – ‘wha- no! The noodles are super spicy, okay?! – and duck my head. It made me feel so much better, grounded almost, knowing that the Doctor and Kaa-san, at the very least, both thought I could learn to control it, in time.

Despite this, the room was still tense. Tou-san had been shooting me guilty looks since we found out my Quirk took after his the most, but I told myself I’d deal with that later.

I wasn’t sure about our folks, but I was waiting for the inevitable explosion.

“Kaga.” Katsuki grunted behind me, sounding disturbingly serious for a four-year-old, and I paused in brushing my teeth. Turning to look over my shoulder, I saw Katsuki leaning against the doorframe in his pjs, his eyes sharp in his little face.

“…yeah?”

“Your Quirk…it’s strong.” He sounded reluctant and I eyed him cautiously. Where was he going with this? “No one can touch you.” Was that protectiveness I heard? I marvelled incredulously. I resisted the urge to squint suspiciously. Surely not...

“I guess…but, Katsu, I won’t be able to touch people-”

Rolling his eyes, my brother shoved past me, ignoring how his shoulder slammed into mine as he reached for his own toothbrush. Staggering slightly from the knock, I turned to gap at him over my shoulder. Did he-

“Don’t get whiney now, Kagami. Just fucking deal with it. If you’re so clever…figure that shit out.”

I blinked twice.

That almost sounded…sweet, coming from Katsu.

Warmth flooded my chest and I had to press my lips together to hide my smile. That would only make Katsu defensive and he’d probably explode the sink. And then, Kaa-san would kill us. So, I played it casual, stepping up next to him and leaning to spit out the lather in my mouth.

“…So,” I reached to cup my hands under the tap and Katsu automatically turned it on for me. “Does this mean you think I can be a Hero?” I gulped the water in my hands, rinsing my mouth and then spitting it out.

“Tch…Whatever, I guess-,” Katsu looked away pointedly when I started grinning, “-we’re twins so don’t show me up.”

“Hmm, no worries there…you’re strong, as well, Katsu.” I commented airily, as if it was common knowledge, as I started washing my face.

That was the way to deal with Katsu. If he thought you were strong, you had to acknowledge him as equally capable. He took everything extremely personally, so you had to be careful. That was also where Izuku had always gone wrong in the anime/manga and why Kirishima was able to get so close to him. Izuku’ s determination to catch up with my brother, when he perceived him as weak, looked like the younger boy was dragging him down to ‘his level’, in Katsuki’ s eyes. And, when Izuku gained ‘One For All’, it felt like he’d been secretly laughing at him for years. I told myself I’d never make that mistake, even if it was well-intentioned.

The grins we shared were just a touch evil.

………………………………………………………………………

“Right, Kagami!” Kaa-san planted her feet and held up two hangers for my perusal.

“Scuba or cyclist!?”

Staring back with a dead-pan expression, I couldn’t believe this was happening.

I understood what the Docs meant when they said, “If anything touches your skin that’s not your own skin or inanimate, it will create a spark,” but did I really have to dress like I was going deep-sea diving all the time? Couldn’t I just hold up a sign saying, “Don’t Touch Me or You Will Burn!!”?

Granted it did sound just a tad crazy, but all the more personal space!

Then again, at nursery and with my rough-housing brother?

“Cyclist,” I sighed tiredly. It least then I wouldn’t squeak like a tire when I fidgeted. And it would be cooler…I didn’t even realise they did full-length one-piece suits, let alone ones small enough for tykes like me. Then again, who knew what was needed in a society where toddlers gained ridiculous abilities?

Kaa-san and I were in a sports shop in the Kiyashi Ward Shopping Mall (yep, that Mall) and trying to think of what I’d need. We’d already spent a good few hours in a furniture store, picking out a sofa. Thinking about the smoke and soot bound to become a part of our lives, because of Katsu more than me, we’d finally settled on a black leather sofa. It would be the easiest to clean, in all honesty. Kaa-san had taken me out of school of the day, letting Katsuki go by himself (I tried really, really hard not to think of all the havoc he could start without me and with his new Quirk) and I mentally prepared myself for the shit to hit the fan when I went back.

Anyway, so far, we’d gotten some nice gloves and thigh-high socks. I’d immediately put both on, feeling a bit jumpy in the busy shopping centre. I’d purposely worn a long-sleeved red turtleneck underneath my dark-denim dungaree dress (both of my parents had a thing with dressing us…I was pretty sure they rarely actually bought clothes, being designers and all). Now, the long socks hiding most of my legs and with my hands covered too, I felt a bit more secure. I’d completely forgotten to cover my legs, tch, so at least that was sorted now.

Urgh, I looked stupid.

It wasn’t even cold so I felt a bit silly in my conservative clothes, the milder weather meaning most people were wearing simple T-shirts. *Sigh* Better get used to it though.

I knew that my Quirk could still develop, the first showing wasn’t always the be-all and end-all. I mean, in the anime/manga, they said that Izuku struggled so much (not just because it was OFA) because he had to learn how to control OFA all at once, where most kids had their entire childhoods to grow accustomed and gain control. So, I could only pray there was a way to shut this damn thing off. At this point, I would’ve preferred being Quirkless. I mean, it was only ‘Day Two’ and already Kaa-san had burned her hand twice when she tried to take mine. And now, with gloves on, it just wasn’t the same. This whole stupid thing made me miserable.

But Katsu had been right, last night. If I was so goddamn smart, I’d find a way to make this work.

Yesterday had been awful, that moment when Tou-san reached for my hand and I burned him. So, there was no way I was gonna leave it there! I’d be damned if some stupid stuff on my skin ruined all the conditioning I’d put Katsu through so he’d automatically hold my hand! I’d been working on that shit for years – I’d been planning to make him do it thoughtlessly at UA!

“Kaa-san, let’s get this stuff and go home! I want to get practicing as soon as possible!” I grinned up at her, tiny fists clenched in determination, and Mitsuki grinned back. Red eyes, identical to Katsu’s and mine, slowly took me in and I thought that might have been pride shining on her face.

“Sure thing, Kaga! That’s the fucking spirit!” Ignoring the scandalised looks for her vulgar language (to a child, no less, hehe), she swung around, bulldozing over some shop assistants who didn’t move fast enough and slamming the little blue suit onto the counter at the till.

Trailing behind her, through the wake of destruction, I smiled blissfully.

Kaa-san’s so coooool~

When we got home, I made a beeline for the downstairs toilet, running in and locking the door behind me. I quickly stripped off my clothes, yanking my turtleneck impatiently over my head – ruining my hair, but, for once, I didn’t care – and pulling the suit on. Jerking my feet through the stretchy legs, I had to sit down so my toes wouldn’t get caught in the clingy material, before standing up and jerking the zipper – running from navel to throat – closed.

Tugging the sleeves down to my wrists, I unlocked the door and made my way to the mirror in the hall.

Staring at the way the thin lyra clung to my tiny figure like a second skin, from jaw to wrist to ankle, my first thought was that I was going to have the most ridiculous tan-lines.

I’d look like a Barbie Doll that someone had switched heads with! Tanned head and ghostly body! Gahh-

“Well, brat, don’t you look like a Pro,” Kaa-san drawled behind me and, when I jerked and I met her eyes in the mirror, she gave me that little smirk (the one she gave when she wanted to smile but couldn’t quite manage it). Still, it did its job, reminding me off my little vow in the Mall, and I slowly smiled back. Looking past her in the mirror, I noticed Tou-san had come up behind her, undoubtedly hearing us come in from his office. That heart-wrenchingly nervous – pained – expression on his face, like he blamed himself for my Quirk, made my chest throb.

“Papa,” I called softly, watching the surprise flicker across his face. I’d never been the most…vocally affectionate person in the world. It wasn’t just that I didn’t like Japanese but that I always thought that actions spoke louder than words. I’d always been hanging off Katsu like we were conjoined and not just identical, popping myself into whoever’s lap (either parent or Katsu, I wasn’t fussed) I came across and kissing my parents’ goodnight. I’d never been all that affectionate with my first parents and, now, I wasn’t going to live with those regrets a second-time round. But, with my Quirk…well, with skin-on-skin comfort out the window (pleasepleasepleasebejustfornow), I’d probably end up being a bit nicer.

Masaru slipped past his wife, coming towards me and taking my little gloved hand without a thought. When I tugged on his fingers, he obediently kneeled down in front of me.

Quick as a flash, I brushed a barely-there kiss on his cheek. The skin turned red (like a very bad sunburn) and started peeling immediately, but I’d been so light that it didn’t blister.

With a shocked expression on his face, To-Papa reached up to brush his fingers against where I’d kissed his cheekbone.

“There,” I rocked back off my tip-toes, my face firmly set in a fiercely determined expression. “I promise, Papa, I’ll practice every single day until I can do that without leaving a mark!”

Masaru’s face melted into a loving expression, a gentle smile tugging at his lips and his soft brown eyes glowing with pride. Reaching forwards, he tucked me into a hug against his chest, his shirt protecting him from the skin not covered by my suit.

“Oh, Kagami, I’m sure you will.”

 

When Katsu came home from nursery, he took one look at my new outfit and snorted, turning away.

“You’d better start fucking training, Kaga – you look like a shitty lose-”

A pillow from the new sofa slammed into the back of his head.

“You’ve already got me beat there, Katsu-!”

………………………………………………………………………………….

School wasn’t fun before my Quirk. And ever since?

I’d been so fucking tempted to ‘learn’ English, blitz through school like some prodigy and get the fuck out-

“Bakugou, pay attention!”

I jerked from my thoughts, head slumped forwards on my folded arms on top of the desk, as Katsuki – predictably – exploded.

“I fucking am!”

“No swearing, Bakugou! And I meant the ot-”

Plastering an insulted expression on my face, I jerked upright to stare accusingly at the teacher.

“I don’t fucking swear!”

When the class broke out in snickers at my colourful declaration, the teacher, what’s-his-face-I-don’t-care, slammed his chalk onto his desk.

“Alright, stop! I’m going to have to call you two by your first names. This is too confusing otherwise, with two of you.” He turned a stubborn look on my brother and gestured for him to sit back down from where he’d leapt to his feet. “Katsuki-san, I was speaking to your sister before, not you, but please do not swear.” Then, he turned to me, looking resentful. Well, I’d probably played with him too many times at this point. Hehe, oops.

“Kagami-san, please pay attention in class and do not swear. Am I clear?”

“Crystal.” I drawled, head cradled in my hands and looking supremely bored already.

It wasn’t just the teacher that pissed me off though. He’d done nothing, after all, except be easy pickings for when I set Katsuki up (he’d never have willingly taken part) to fuck with the staff. Being an identical twin was awesome.

That was my main issue, though.

He’d done nothing.

We were 6 now, starting our first year of Elementary School, and the man was a fucking doormat.

We’d been here two whole weeks and they’d done nothing, turning their faces away, whenever Izuku was bullied.

I’d been foaming at the mouth for years now, appalled at the blatant favouritism towards the more powerful Quirks and the neglect shown to those ‘weaker’. And, as the only Quirkless kid in our school, Izuku had been at the very bottom of the food chain since forever. What was the point in claiming that this was a liberal society, where the impossible was made possible, when people were put down for being ‘normal’!

From history class, I knew that, after the first few Quirks emerged, there had been a massive campaign for equal rights and no prejudice against those with ‘special talents’.

Oh, how the tables turn.

True, it wasn’t the same as other examples of prejudice. Izuku wasn’t banned from anywhere, he wasn’t a second-class citizen or anything but…he just, he wasn’t anything. I knew that the green-haired boy was one of the smartest in the class but, teachers never picked on him for answers and he rarely got any attention at all! Neglect was a serious thing, in its own right, people. They didn’t stop the bullies or the other kids’ quietly cruel words. They just let it all happen.

That boy…he’ll become the greatest Hero of our generation…But, shit, if it doesn’t hurt to watch it happen.

And I couldn’t imagine what it must have felt like, back when we first got out Quirks, to realise yours was never coming. I’d had a really hard time of it, back then, even with a Quirk. I was still twitchy as fuck, which had thankfully calmed in the past few years, but, back then, I felt the need to keep a solid two-foot distance between myself and anyone who wasn’t family.

Which included Inko and Izuku.

And, because they were precious to me, they fell under my protection as well.

***

“Oi!” I yelled, expression twisted in rage, at the two older boys in front of me. “Back off, assholes!”

Okay, so growing up with Katsu and Kaa-san might’ve affected me slightly.

The two dicks, probably around 7 or so, turned in surprise, before the one on the left let out an obnoxious laugh. “Bad language for a little girl,” He smiled, like I was some kind of frickin joke.

Izuku, 4-years-old and trembling as he was pressed up against the lockers behind him, gave me a look like he thought I’d lost my mind from between the two boys. The poor kid was shaking badly, an expression of raw panic on his face and tears leaking from those huge eyes of his. And you wonder how I found it impossible to turn away?

“Leave him alone or I’ll fucking make you.”

“Why? He’s just a Quirkl-argfff”

Whatever shit he was going to sprout was quickly cut off when my foot planted itself firmly in his balls, swung with all the strength I could muster. And, seeing as we Bakugou’s were built like steel? That was a fucking lot.

The boy dropped like a stone, curling up on himself and whimpering like a baby. His mate took a step back, losing all his bluster at my vicious and unhesitating take-down, and swallowing hard.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He yelled, face pale as he bent down to drag his friend upright and away from me.

I didn’t even give him a second glance – he was, obviously, not going to retaliate – as I stepped closer to the emerald-haired boy, leaning down and offering him a gloved hand and a warm grin. Izuku was still crying steadily but managed an extremely wet and tremulous smile. His hand shook as he took mine but I just pulled him back to his feet, slipping my elbow through his.

Casting one more look over my shoulder at the two bullying assholes behind us, I sent them a warning smile that was all teeth.

“Defending my friend.”                                     

***

After that, most people knew that to provoke Izuku was asking for a painful and/or humiliating take-down from me. For the most part, I tried to keep it from the teachers. I’d need a good record to get into UA so I either made the retaliation so, err, strong that they didn’t try it again or I threatened them so they wouldn’t dare tattle, simple as that.

When one girl pitched a fit because she had to pair up with Izuku in gym class, I had smiled at her viciously, casually plucking at my gloves, and told her that she should consider herself lucky; what would she have done if she was paired with me?

Needless to say, she was very professional after that.

I wasn’t sure, in all honesty, if I was doing the right thing. I mean, I’d never have left Izuku to those horrible bullies but…even though I told myself that defending the innocent was Heroic, wasn’t threatening people a bit villainous? Or was I reading too much into it?

Either way, I’d made a name for myself as someone you didn’t fuck with, even in Nursery.

Granted, they were already weary of me, but still.

When I’d finally gone back to school – after two weeks of getting used to my Quirk’s limits – it was to Katsu being the most popular kid in our grade (and a few above us).

Tch, that boy, I swear.

Everyone had been delighted with his Quirk, the adults constantly praising him and all the other children thinking he was the best thing since sliced bread. Katsu basked in the attention, growing more and more self-assured in his own importance and I was getting worried. I felt like standing on a desk and screaming at everyone, “Will you please stop undoing all my hard work?!” as Katsuki’ s ego got bigger and bigger.

Until the day I decided to pop that bubble before we all suffocated.

***

“Katsu, give it a rest,” I groaned, slumped back on my hands on the grass. We were in the playground at school, it was lunchtime and I’d been back at Nursery for a month now. And I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.

“Shut up, Kagami! You’re just jealous!” One of the boys sniped, eliciting a series of annoying ‘Yeah!’s from the crowd that had gathered to watch Katsu give another ‘demonstration’.

“I’m not,” I said shortly. “I have my own Quirk, thanks, so I don’t need my brother’s and I don’t need to see it every five goddamn minutes. It’s you who’s jealous.”

The same boy, some kid with dark red hair and electric blue eyes, made an angrily affronted noise before turning to my twin. “Tell her, Katsuki!” he pointed angrily back at me. “Tell Kagami she’s jealous!”

Katsu, who’s been ignoring the exchange until now, jerked around and glared angrily at us both, evidently annoyed he’d been dragged into something so trivial. “Fuck off, idiot.” He dismissed the boy, who gaped in disbelief, before turning to me. “Kagami knows my Quirk is the best, but hers is strong enough.”

Oh, that is fucking it. My eyes flashed with fire and, against my better judgement, I found myself baited perfectly. Sitting up, I rubbed my gloved hands together meaningfully and noted the way Katsu’s eyes dropped in anticipation. Boy was fucking looking for a fight. Did he seriously think I’d let him win? But, if I made him lose in front of all our peers, would he ever let it go?

Watching as his palms crackled like sparklers, I sweat-dropped at the situation. Probably not.

“I’m not going to fight you, Katsu.” I narrowed my eyes, staring into his identical ones. “We’re equals and I think all our fights have proven that. You may have more control Katsu…but I. Don’t. Burn.”

Katsuki snarled down at me for a moment and I honestly thought he might attack me anyway. But then, like a genuine fucking miracle, my twin slowly calmed down and his palms stopped sparking.

Scarlet bore into scarlet for a long moment.

“Fine, Kaga.” He grumbled, jaw set, and I watched the expressions of disbelief filter through the pack of kids watching.

“But only you.”

***

After Katsuki publicly vouched for my strength, everyone was a bit more careful around me. It certainly didn’t help that we’d all been warned to avoid skin-on-skin contact because of my Quirk.

What, so Katsuki accidently explodes a fuck tonne of pencils, desks and toys and that’s okay?!

But, honest to god, I understood the concern. I mean, I was burning things left, right and centre when I was practicing and it was hard.

By the time Izuku was confirmed Quirkless, I’d only just managed to sunburn (not real sunburn, obviously, but close enough) Papa’s cheek. I’d cried all night when I realised it hadn’t peeled or blistered, tucked into my dad’s lap as he beamed in pride (Papa’s face was starting to look a bit discoloured, like a bizarre tan, when, every month or so, I’d test my control with a barely-there kiss on his cheek – I usually practiced on Kaa-san’s hands because her Quirk would deal with any scars).

We’d been training furiously every single day for months at that point and I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone else was having this much trouble? Were Quirk’s meant to be this hard to deal with?

I comforted myself that Hagakure couldn’t style her hair anymore and that Dark Shadow was probably being a little mischief-maker come Tokoyami’s bedtime~

Regardless, I had improved, slow as the progress may have been. I’d probably always have to wear the suit and gloves as it took so much concentration to tone it down that I couldn’t hold it for very long. Papa had started theorising like crazy once we had begun exploring and we’d noticed that it was extremely similar to his own, even more so that we’d previously thought.

Dad could make his hands catch fire with enough friction, yeah. But the real issue? It always caught on something. Whether that was papers at his desk or, on one memorable occasion, his shirt sleeve, the fire could spread.

But, for some reason, mine couldn’t. Now, this could have been written off as a difference in our Quirks except…as desperate as I was to stop my Quirk, I also needed to expand it.

How the hell was I gonna fight those UA entrance exam robots, let alone be a Hero, if I couldn’t affect inanimate things too?! I didn’t care how early I was, I needed all the time I could get!

But, first off, I need control. I was becoming a bit restless, like when you really need a hug but have no one to turn to. Without being able to touch people…I felt so disconnected. I’d received more head-pats than ever (in either lives) and Kaa-san liked to play with my hair was a way to bond, but it was different. Even hugs with clothing barriers weren’t right.

There was something…mystical…about human contact. Not only was it so much more personal, but it was an animal-instinct thing. Like cats purring together or birds preening each other’s feathers, humans needed human contact to maintain bonds and feel connected.

You can imagine how I fucking sobbed when, at 6, we realised that, because of the hardened skin from his Quirk, I could control myself enough to actually hold Katsu’s hands without hurting him.

He’d go red like he was scalded but, after the first time when I’d cried in sheer relief before it turned into guilt when I saw what I’d done, he stubbornly insisted I ‘do what I fucking had to’.

Katsu could be so cute, in his own way. He’d seen what the separation was doing to me and then, when we found a ‘kind-of’ solution, belligerently declared that he wasn’t a ‘fucking whimp’ and he could ‘deal with some stupid burns’.

I’d crawled into his bed that night, covered up completely and placing my pillow between our heads. But, my hands were bare and I held his tightly all night, our legs tangled together. Katsu didn’t even try to pull away or complain, scooting across the mattress to make room with a very sharp look on his face.

He didn’t even do anything, other than roll his eyes, when he woke up to cherry-red palms and a blister on his nose. I’d actually forgotten to factor in that he was a very active sleeper and his nose had met mine at some point in the night.

Kaa-san had smirked gleefully at us when we came downstairs, cackling and riling up an angry-flustered Katsu as she pet my hair and Papa dabbed burn-cream on my brother’s nose.

It was very domestic.

……………………………………………………………………….

Back then, after that massive relief, I’d felt like a weight had fallen off my shoulders. I was still desperate to get some control, feel like I’d taken charge instead of ruled by my Quirk, but the frantic feeling in my chest had abated. I still missed hugging my parents and the casual, thoughtless touches with anyone and everyone that we all took for granted.

But, now that I could touch Katsuki – or, at least, hold his hands – I didn’t feel as disconnected anymore. It was like everything was real, like being grounded and I had a connection again. It sounded silly, perhaps, but I felt more awake, like I wasn’t dreaming anymore or that I wasn’t a ghost, drifting through but unable to touch.

Maybe it was unhealthy to be so dependent, considering how close we’d always been, but we were even closer now.

Katsuki seemed to understand that I needed him and I think it made him feel better. If I wasn’t going to concede that he was better (equal, always equal, never less), then at least he knew that I needed him. That was one of the issues Katsuki had always had. Being needed. It was like, along with being the best, he always needed to be important. He’d get angry if he was left out of a game, always having to be involved somehow (leader was always, always best) and I knew that it was unhealthy, on some level. But, I’d long ago understood that this was just who Katsuki was, how his brain worked and how he perceived the world. Just because it was different, didn’t mean it was wrong.

Thinking about this always made me think of that thing with colour. You know, what if the colour blue you see is actually someone else’s red but, because they’ve been labelled the same thing by society, we think they match? How did we know how other people felt? Sure, we could describe it but that’s not the same as actually seeing it through their eyes and understanding.

But, enough with the philosophical-existential-whatever brain shit.

I’d been practicing. Every day.

It was mainly with my parents, Kaa-san because she was awesome and she wouldn’t scar, and Papa because he kind of knew what I was going through and he was my dad, of course he wanted to help. Also, I could tell the silly man still felt guilty, which was ridiculous. He hadn’t exactly done this to me, let alone on purpose. Although, part of it I was sure was because he’d always given me the vibe that he’d wished his Quirk was stronger, so that he could have become a Hero. And he’d seen my Quirk as that strengthening of his and, seeing me struggle and suffer, felt terrible.

What a silly, adorable man.

When I hit nine, I started trying to do something with my Quirk, other than contain it. So, under my father’s very, very careful supervision, I tried getting it to spread.

Over the years, as I practiced trying to smother the effect of my Quirk, I’d had to get used to both weakening and strengthening it. Whilst, in the past five years, I’d gotten my touches down to angry, red scoldings instead of actual flames, it was so much easier – scarily so – to magnify.

The first time I’d concentrated – so hard I thought I was gonna pop a vessel – on increasing the strength of my Quirk, I’d burst into flames whenever I moved the slightest bit.

So, stood as I was with my hands clenched so hard to my chest that they were shaking, I burned through my underarms and front of my top like a match on gasoline.

In hindsight, it had been hilarious the way Papa had thrown his cardigan, ignoring the fact it was expensive and his own design, at me like it was on fire. At the time? I’d been blushing so hard I thought my face would burst into flames instead.

So, after that little incident, I’d focused on my hands instead of just by whole body. Imitating my dad, I spent hours scrubbing my hands together – sometimes with something between them, like paper, and sometimes just skin-on-skin – and trying to get so much of a spark.

I was getting really pissed off at this point, especially when Katsuki seemed to just instinctively get his Quirk. What was this shit? Punishment for not dying properly?

So, another year went past of scrubbing hands and reddened cheeks and Kaa-san got it into her head that we should ‘get some culture’.

Ha, what a joke. I already had a second one stuffed into the back of my head, thanks.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t exactly say that to her, so we got to pick something.

Remembering how I’d loved to draw before, I’d taken art before Kaa-san could even think about suggesting another language. Two’s plenty, thanks! And as for an instrument? Nope. At least with art I already knew what I was doing (kinda). With an instrument…I’d always been shit with them and, yeah, I know, I should properly try to do something about that – like ‘self-improvement’ – but I was honestly more concerned about getting my Quirk down. Art shouldn’t take up that much of my time, unlike an instrument.

Katsu picked the drums.

I had cackled for hours.

He cited – reluctantly, after I’d annoyed him for ages – that it was loud and angry and drummers were supposedly always in really good shape.

Okay, that was a lie. He told me to “fuck off, Kagami” but I could read between the lines.

It was actually really entertaining going with Katsuki to pick out his class at the school. I mean, this was the boy who could scream for a solid minute without taking a breath when he wanted the latest All Might Merch (he’d recently taken to hiding it in the back of his wardrobe when I started organising all the figurines like they were having a tea-party on top of his bed multiple times a day- hehe) but didn’t want our folks to buy him his own drum set – “Fuck off, old man, I don’t need that shit-” – and, when he settled down behind a kit, I stuck around, loitering in the corridor.

The videos and photo were saved to a pen-drive, just in case something happened to my phone. Future Class 1-A…you are welcome~

So, on top of my struggles, Katsu had to take drum lessons (oh, to be a fly on the wall there) whilst I had to so a bit of drawing every day. It actually was great, reconnecting with a part of me I’d never really realised I’d missed until then. It had been…healing, in a way, a balm on the slowly healing wounds.

Because, let’s face it, I’d not come into this world without scars and tears and grief and fear.

I knew I’d never step foot in a plane again. I didn’t care if that meant I’d have to take 300 different boats, zig-zagging between countries like a pin ball if I wanted to go anywhere. I’d fucking do it! A childhood of Katsuki being an adventurous little shit with that stupid climbing frame and trees and hills and swings and other stuff, meant that I wasn’t as…uncomfortable with heights as I could have been. I’d have to face it eventually, if I wanted to be a Pro and because I used to love heights…that was another part of my past-self I wasn’t willing to sacrifice.

I’d used to cry, when we were younger, on our birthday. Just…little sniffles, that no one could hear or notice. I knew it wasn’t the right day but, to me, and especially back then, the day I was born was the day all this became real and I left everything behind.

***

 Papa was up late in his office and walked past our room in the early hours of the morning.

At seven-years-old, I thought I was being quiet but, either the ‘Dad Senses’ were tingling or Tou-san heard me, because he came in and found me crying to myself in my bed, huddled under the covers.

When he had to use the blanket to brush away my tears instead of his thumbs, picking me up in his arms and carrying me to the stairs so we wouldn’t wake Katsu, I cried even harder.

I hated this!

Now, I adored Mitsuki, Masaru and Katsuki but…I’d lost an entire future! I’d only been twenty when I’d died and just about to graduate, my life stretching out in front of me-! It wasn’t fair that, in order to love these wonderful people, I’d been ripped from my old family (even if I’d not been given an option).

So, I cried my little, broken heart out into Papa’s arms for hours, cocooned in a blanket and tucked against his chest. And, it felt like, for every piece that fell from my heart, Tou-san put it back.

When he asked me what had brought this on, a few hours later and when my sobs had slowed to hiccupping tears, I told him I’d had a nightmare. One where I’d been ripped from everything I knew, made into something dangerous and unable to be close to someone.

The look of horror of his face when he worked out it was about my Quirk (partially) made me guilty. What a fucking ‘dream’ for a six-year-old to have, Kagami. I should have just stuck to ‘monster under the bed’.

But then, Papa’s eyes grew fiercely determined and he hugged my tiny body hard against his chest, whispering that everyone loved me anyway and it wasn’t the end of the world, that we’d find a way together and Shhh, precious little spitfire, don’t cry-

 I sniffled a bit, breathing in the comforting scent of fresh cotton and pencils. Papa was incredibly warm and I ended up drifting off as he rocked me gently, perched on the top step of the stairs.

I woke up in my own bed the next morning, feeling better than I had it a long time.

Last night had been…closure. I mean, not completely. Emotional wounds took time more than anything but…it was a start, and a good one.

***

I was such a daddy’s girl, after that even more so.

After hearing about my dreams, Papa had taken my training up to a new level. We used to spend an hour or so a day on it, before. Now? Two hours minimum, sometimes over three. But I was never going to complain about that. The more I worked, the more I’d be able to control it.

I didn’t care if I’d be giving people red-marks for the rest of my life, so long as that was all and I got to fucking touch them.

……………………………………………………………………………

By the time, Katsu and I had turned 12 (only a few weeks into school), I was determined to celebrate reaching Junior High by begging my parents to sign us up for Karate.

Well, I asked just for me but, when Katsuki heard I wanted to learn how to fight, well-

“What the fuck are you doing on my shitty computer, Kaga?” A voice growled behind me and I didn’t even bother looking up to see who it was. Pointless. But, for the record? For one, who else spoke like that? And two, at this age – before Katsuki’ s voice drops – we sounded quite similar. Except, you know, I was a girl. Duh.

“Mm-hmm.” I acknowledged absentmindedly, continuing to scroll through the website I’d found. Besides, it was ours. As in, learn to fucking share, Katsu.

A chin planted itself on – more like stabbed into – my shoulder, my hair creating a barrier between our faces, as Katsuki looked at what I was doing. So frickin’ nosey-

“The fuck you looking at Dojo’s for?” He chuffed and I had to bite my lip. I was sat at the desk in his room (I was the one that moved out when we hit 8) so…what weird and painful angle was he bent at to put his face there? My shoulders started trembling minutely, my jaw clenched so hard from trying not to giggle it hurt…oh my god, I wished I could turn and look, the massive dork.

Unfortunately, my trembling shoulders knocked Katsu’s cheek against mine and my twin jumped back as if burned. Well, actually-

“The HELL, Kagami?!” I swung around in my chair, one hand slapped over my face when I saw the big blister on his cheekbone. Katsuki was fuming, hands clawed like he wanted to retaliate, accept…well, I didn’t burn, did I? And anyway, I couldn’t take him seriously with that blister! “What the fuck was that?” Katsuki snarled looking like he was two seconds away from picking me up, chair and all, and slam-dunking me across the room.

“Sorry! Sorry!” I swallowed my laughter, focusing on his earlier question so I wouldn’t have to explain what had me laughing in the first place. Twirling back around to face the monitor, I gestured for my explosive brother to move closer again. Which he did. With a grumbling huff. Rolling my eyes, I showed him the Google Map I was looking at. “Kaa-san says I can take Karate classes if I find a Dojo not too far away and cheap enough.”

There was a minute pause.

“You want to learn how to fight.” It wasn’t a question.

Nodding, I turned to look at my twin over my shoulder, taking in that sharply analytical expression in his eyes. Jeeze, Katsuki could be intimidatingly smart when he wanted to. “I figured it’s all well and good having a strong Quirk, but I need to know how to use it and move in a combat situation…also, what if I have to fight somewhere really wet where I can’t get a spark?” or you can’t light an explosion at all/as well, “Or I have to fight someone who’s immune to my Quirk? I can’t be helpless.” I pointed out reasonably.

Scarlet eyes, still locked on mine, were fiercely considering.

“Tch. Whatever.” Katsuki rolled his eyes, turning away to leave. “And Kagami…whatever shitty place you pick, I’ll go too…so I can show you how it’s fucking done.”

Turning back to the screen and hearing Katsu stomp out, my lips twitched in a smile.

Silly boy knew I had a point and didn’t want me to go alone.

………………………………………………………………..

The Dojo I’d found had been a half-an-hour train journey away but, comparing the reviews and the price, I hoped it would be worth it. I mean, not everything could be ‘around the corner’ my entire life.

Katsuki and I had crammed on the train, which was surprisingly busy for a Saturday morning, with our workout clothes stuffed into a bag over Katsu’s shoulder. Trains always made me a bit nervous. I mean, they could get so full and I was still pretty short; for most adults I was shoulder/arm height, so the possibility of being hit in the face and catching someone on fire in a cramped compartment that travels with speed…no I wasn’t doing great, thanks.

Thankfully, Katsuki could be nice when he wanted to and always bracketed me, standing to face me with his arms up on either side of my head to hold onto the overhead-straps. That way, I had a kind-of cage around my face, the only part of me uncovered (I was not going to do a ‘Kakashi’ or wear a ski mask). The only person who’d be catching fire would be my brother, if he was seriously jarred.

I could live with setting him on fire, I supposed.

Arms protectively shielding me on either side of my head, I beamed sweetly up at my brother.

“What?” he growled, eyes narrowed but mouth pulled into something that looked, suspiciously, like a pout.

“Thanks for this, Katsu!”

 “S-shut up, Kaga!” Jaw flexing angrily, eyes blanking in rage, I didn’t fail to notice the embarrassed blush on his cheeks. Tch, what a Tsundere.

A woman over katsu’s shoulder gave us an extremely concerned look – come to think of it, even though we were identical, it probably looked like I was being hounded, hehe – but I didn’t even bat an eyelash. That’s the shit Katsuki had to deal with, looking like a delinquent. I mean, I’d made a real effort to change that a bit – okay, I just yelled and harassed him over his stupid trousers falling down. It’s just… I always thoughts trousers like that looked like they’d shit themselves, like wet nappies on babies! – but the silly boy had started snarling like a demon, palms exploding as he tackled me to the floor.

Kaa-san had not been impressed when she saw the scorch marks on Katsu’s floor. Well, at least my room was still in perfect shape.

The train pulled into the next stop and we got off, Katsuki glaring at the crowd arounds us and grumbling as I checked the map on my phone.

“It says it should be just a few blocks this way, Katsuki!” I pointed and, ignoring how he’d gone into full Tsundere-Mode, I snatched up his hand, pulling him after me.

Unfortunately, like maps always do, it took us a few more tries to find the stupid place and, by then, Katsuki was snarling. He’d grabbed my phone off me at some point, insisting that I was “taking the fucking piss,” and proceeding to take the lead.

Still had to turn around another time, though.

The Dojo was a large building, probably an office-block which had been turned into a communal Sports Hall. It was large, built with big windows everywhere and, when we climbed the steps and walked through the doors, I saw a shit tonne of posters and classes posted everywhere. Hmm, they probably shared the facility with loads of other clubs.

Taking charge so that Katsuki wouldn’t scar the poor woman when he opened his mouth, I beamed and bounced forward to greet the receptionist.

“Good morning! We’re hoping to sign up for the Karate class, the one due to start in half-an-hour?”

The woman, in her late thirties with a cute red plait, smiled happily and told me it wasn’t a problem, turning to click away at her computer. I faithfully ignored how Katsu slumped against the wall with an impatient sigh. Tch. When I’d slowly filled out the forms for our membership – which we could finish after the class if we wanted to go through with it, the first being a free ‘taster’ session – the woman showed us where the locker rooms were, before returning to her desk.

I waved Katsu off towards the male door, ignoring his parting jibe that I better not “take fucking ages.

The changing room was a simple thing, two benches running across in front of two walls of blue lockers with the back of the room tiled into a wet room, shower heads separated by curtains. There were a few girls in there already, getting changed. Two were around my age and the oldest, looking like she’d just come from the shower, was probably around twenty-two. They all looked up I came in and we exchanged polite smiles, but none of us made a move to start a conversation.

Knowing full well what I was getting myself into, I had packed a green long sleeved top and some grey workout shorts. I mean, I was already wearing the usual navy bodysuit, so… I pulled on my socks, they had special grips on the bottom so I wouldn’t slide all over the place (I couldn’t go barefoot and still kick people like you were meant to) and exchanged my normal grey gloves (I was not going to wear black, I wasn’t doing this for fashion!) for ones that extended half-way up my forearm. Less chance of falling off and all that shit.

Moving over to the mirror, I considered my hair.

I’d always had long hair, in both lives (if you ignored one terrible mistake before, when I’d foolishly gotten a bob and regretted it for years) and I love it but…this hair wasn’t really the most manageable.

Katsuki and I had the same hair after all. Ergo, spikey blonde explosion. And I wasn’t Best Jeanist, I couldn’t just slick it back like I was a Pantene Ad. My hair was quite long, brushing the middle of my back, and was sharply jagged, sticking up everywhere. Before, I’d always groaned about how my super straight hair never did anything, just falling straight down my spine to my thighs.

Now, I just wanted my hair to fucking chill.

You know…Katsuki and I looked a lot like our Kaa-san and she rocked a bob like a boss…maybe I should get one. I mean, I’d seen an Ad promoting the salon upstairs…

Putting those thoughts aside for now, I pulled my ridiculous mane into a tight ballerina bun. If we were sparring, Katsuki would insist we fight and a ponytail would be like waving a red flag at a Bull. Dick would definitely drag me around by my hair.

BANG!

All of us girls leapt a foot in the air when something slammed into the door. Or someone.

“Kagami! Get your shitty ass out here, it’s fucking time!”

Chuffing a laugh under my breath, I shoved my things into a locker, locking it and slipping the key into my sports bra (I was still, tragically, pretty flat-chested, but it was good support). Hey, no judging! If I wore it on my wrist, it would swing about and jingle when I moved! After all, a bra was a girl’s favourite pocket!

Turning my back to my locker, I took in the shocked looks on everyone’s faces. Ha-ha, wow, Katsuki, way to be charming.

“Sorry,” I smiled cheerfully, moving towards the door. “My twin doesn’t like being late!”

The ‘Dojo’ was actually just a large hall, like a gymnasium, with laminated floors and a high ceiling. There were a few other people already there and the class wasn’t very big at all, probably twelve of us, max. The sensei was stood off to one side and beamed at the sight of new faces.

Miles-sensei was a middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair, a perpetually smiling moustache and feet that were probably triple the size of normal (his Quirk? They’d be very good for keeping balance and dish out a mean kick). He greeted us cheerfully, not even bothered by my brother’s antagonistic attitude – kudos – and, even as I told him the special circumstances of my Quirk, I was completely distracted the entire time he was speaking.

I just…his moustache moved so much.

It was like the moustache was his mouth! I couldn’t see lips or teeth or anything when he spoke, just that ridiculous moustache, bouncing away like a squirrel on his upper lip-! Even when he grinned, the ends just curled up. What the hell? How did facial hair even get that range of, or any, mobility??

“-fighting in pairs after we warm up. Just basic blocks and punches, and I’ll go through and correct stances-”

An elbow jabbed my ribs and, with a low ‘oof!’, I turned to see Katsu glaring at me impatiently. Oh right, warm up, shit.

On autopilot, I went through my old stretches, ones that had been ingrained from thirteen years before and I could probably never forget. I was vaguely aware that Katsuki was subtly copying my moves (I was a good three steps ahead of everyone else…oops) and only jerked from my thoughts when Miles-sensei came over to ask if I’d done martial arts before.

“Oh!” I grinned sheepishly. Shit, why was I such a dork? “No, I just- I like watching fights on TV-” not technically a lie, “-and I watched a few tutorials before I signed us up!”

The man beamed, evidently impressed with my forethought and ‘natural’ understanding, and moved off to help a girl, who was shakily trying to balance on one leg and looked like a weak breeze would knock her over.

“Well?” Katsuki huffed and I internally rolled my eyes. I knew he wouldn’t let this go. There really was no rest for the wicked. I turned to throw him an unimpressed look over my shoulder before I reached down to stretch out my legs, gently rotating my ankle and lightly tapping my fingers to my toes. “Fine. I tried some stuff out but knew I’d need an actually Sensei to get anywhere, which is why I asked Kaa-san.” I admitted, resolutely getting on with my stretches. Katsuki was silent for a long moment.

“You started fucking training without me?” For a boy who liked to deny his emotions and bonds, he sure could get huffy about being ‘left out’.

“Without you?” I parried back, straightening and starting to rotate my shoulders. “We’ve never trained together, Katsu. You did your thing with your Quirk and I’ve been doing mine.”

A quiet “Tch.” was all the response I got.

Miles-sensei then had us throwing basic punches and blocks in a line, walking up and down in front of us and correcting any faults in our form.

I’d been a Red belt, almost a Brown, when I’d died. Although different companies and Dojos had slightly different rankings, in my Dojo I had been two belts below Black, which was pretty good considering I’d been juggling it alongside fencing and school. Katsuki also had no issues here; although he didn’t have the exact defence that Karate practiced – strong sweeps of arms to mercilessly knock blows away before they could land –, his punches were strong and sure, perfected from our roughhousing and his scuffles with the older kids. I didn’t doubt that, despite his hypocritical complaints, he’d probably been practicing some moves alongside his Quirk.

When sensei decided that we all knew enough basics to manage a small spar, we were split into pairs and told to exchange soft blows, to get a feel for moving in the moment.

Naturally, Katsuki and I paired up. And then it, obviously, went too far.

Without a warning, Katsuki lunged at me, one arm already sweeping back for a powerful punch and a hard smirk twisting his lips. Eyes wide, I instinctively ducked low, slipping inside his guard and pulling my punch. The blow to the centre of his chest knocked him off balance and I took the chance to get some space between us, but Katsuki recovered quickly, eyes gleaming as he riled himself up for a fight.

Shitty, shitty, fuck. We’re meant to have a nice and gentle spar!

“Spar, Katsu.” I reminded him, narrowed red meeting narrowed red. Blowing my warning off, Katsuki lunged forward a second time but, when I made to block again, he lifted his leg up for a kick. Hmm, spontaneous. Good. Sweeping my own arm down to intercept, I ducked underneath the next punch, feeling it pass over my head. If that had hit, we’d have had a fire on our hands. Shit. Thinking fast, I jabbed two quick punches into his exposed ribs, not even blinking when Katsuki let out a low grunt at the force. Then, before he could bring his arms around again, I swung my arm around his neck, looping one foot around his ankle and pulled.

Katsu went down on his face and I just managed to catch myself before I fell on top of him. Boy was heavy.

“Wonderful, Kagami-san!” Miles-sensei’s voice pulled me back to the room and I swallowed when I saw that everyone was staring at us. A strong hand clapped me on the shoulder and, when sensei started telling me I had some great instincts for close-range combat, I just nodded along.

Katsuki  leapt off the floor, silent and watchful, and I met his gaze squarely. He continuously surprised me, sometimes exploding and sometimes letting things go. I wasn’t sure if it was just the limited view we’d been given in the manga/anime, but I thought he might have been much more considering now. He was still a massive arsehole and ridiculously hot-headed but he genuinely cared about me. It was evident in the way he watched out for me, hording my attention from Izuku viciously (stupid, jealous, possessive little brother) and never showing any hesitance towards me, even with my horrible Quirk. So now, I didn’t know how he’d react to the knowledge that I was good at this, better than him.

“Again, Kagami.” He snarled, ruby eyes burning with determination and unholy anticipation.

Ah, he was going for the ‘now someone can fight me’ and ‘Kagami is worthy of being my twin and equal’ route. Thank. Fuck.

 

We got the membership.

 

Kaa-san had yelled at me for not going letting her make a pampering day of it when we came back that evening and my long mane was gone.

I honestly think she was just feeling betrayed that I’d gone with Katsu of all people and not her, which was understandable, considering we’d connected over the years through playing with my hair when we couldn’t touch.

She was super flattered though, I could tell from the victorious gleam in her eye, that our bobs now matched, even if I’d gone for an extreme side parting and had had some beach-wave spray added to it to make it a bit wavy. Of course, any kind of happiness disappeared when she saw the double piercings in both my lobes, studded with ruby-red gems.

And when she noticed that I – after I’d had to all but strap Katsuki to the chair after me – had made my brother get a tiny hoop in each earlobe?

I think all our neighbours, even the ones at the end of the street, were now aware of how much Katsu looked like a delinquent~

……………………………………………………………………………

After seeing me experiment and improve as the years passed by, Izuku had taken a keen interest in my Quirk, wanting updates on how I was doing and any new developments. I’d internally crowed in victory like the Fangirl I was when I saw that, after All Might of course, I was the second entry in his Quirk Analysis book. Even Katsuki was just third place!

He really was a cutie.

“K-Kagami-chan!” A quiet voice called out to me and I turned around with a wide smile, closing my locker behind me.

“Izu-kun!” The smile dropped and I frowned in disapproval, hands finding hips as the younger boy jogged up next to me in the corridor. “What have I told you, ay? At least drop the ‘-chan’!”

“R-right, sorry Kagami-ch-Kagami!” The emerald haired boy twiddled his fingers nervously and I simply snorted at the slip-up, looping my elbow around his and dragging the now-mumbling boy down the corridor. I’d barely believed it when I’d first seen him do it – at five years old! –, almost unable to hold in my incredulous laugh that it was actually happening, but now it was old hat. Just simply Izuku.

“What was that?” I asked innocently, hopping down the steps towards the main doors. The corridors were almost empty by now, most kids having started heading home already, but I’d run late when I was looking for Katsu and Izuku had found me.

“-canIaskyouafewmorequestionsaboutyourQuirkifthat’sokayyoudon’thaveto-”

My laughter cut him off and I quickly grinned at him, lest he think I was being mean. I mean, we’d been friends for over eight years now (!), and Izuku trusted me…but the sweet boy was very, understandably, paranoid, with all the bullies etc. Time was my only way of continuing to prove to him that I was 300% in his corner.

“Of course! I’d be-”

“There you are!” A familiar voice snarled from the top of the stairs we’d just come down and we turned as one to see a pissed-off Katsu.

Ah. Another issue with making sure Izuku knew how much I valued him. Or was it that my defence against my own twin was a point in my favour?

“K-Kacchan, wha-” Izuku started, nervous but holding his ground.

“I was looking for you, Kaga,” Katsu stomped down the stairs, cutting between the two of us in a falsely-casual movement and turning to me, put his back to Izuku.

That was another difficulty. Katsuki didn’t bully Izuku.

He pretended he didn’t exist.

***

When Izuku was identified as Quirkless, Katsuki was spitting mad for days and I knew it would eventually come to a – violent – head.

I was right, two days later.

I was running late to lunch, having popped to the bathroom just as the bell went, and by the time I made it outside, a crowd was forming. My heart dropped to my feet when I noticed the smoke coming from the middle.

“-useless Deku-”

“Katsuki!” I roared, viciously shoving my way through the pack of brats in time to see my twin aim an explosion at Izuku’s huddled form. I threw myself forward, managing to get in between the two before the blow could hit.

Knuckles skid across my cheek, throwing my head to the side with a hard ‘crack’ of flesh-on-flesh and the kids watching gasped.

Half my jaw was sparking with scarlet flames as I slowly turned back to my brother.

“Kag-” Katsuki looked absolutely shocked, red eyes blown wide in furious denial. His fist, still extended, was blistering so badly I knew he’d scar. From all the times we’d fought, rough-housed, even when we’d activated our Quirks, we’d never landed a serious blow like that.

Well, until now.

“Katsuki.” I bit out, voice shaking with anger and bitter disappointment. And here, I thought I’d changed things… “How dare you.”

Fire ignited in Katsu’s eyes and then, he was falling back on his anger. “What the fuck, Kagami?! It’s your fault I hit you, you got in the fucking way!”

Teeth bared, I got right up in my brother’s space. I could see the horrified-yet-absorbed looks on everyone’s faces and, hearing the soft sniffles of Izuku crying behind me, I got even more riled up.

“Idiot!” I hissed, nose almost touching his as we snarled like wolves, “I meant how dare you attack my friend!”

“What?!” The other boy howled, looking completely deranged. “You’re still friends with that shitty, Quirkl-”

“Being Quirkless doesn’t mean fucking shit, Katsuki! Do you really think this is what it means to be a Hero? Your so-called winning? Villains can win too, you know – being a Hero is more than that!”

Placing both hands on my twin’s chest, I shoved him away hard, spinning around to grab an awed-looking Izuku from the ground. The crowd parted like the Red Sea as I moved towards them and I dragged Izuku out of there as fast as possible.

***

After that, Katsuki and I hadn’t spoken for a month-and-a-half until we finally broke.

Or, rather, Katsuki took one look at how miserable I was without contact and marched up to me, snarling swears under his breath as he grabbed my hands, ripped off my gloves, and laced his fingers through mine. When I’d sighed in relief, he’d ‘tch’-ed at me with a derisive glare and bam! New argument!

It had taken us four more arguments (and some tears, I wasn’t ashamed of tactics that got results), until I got Katsuki to agree to leave Izuku alone.

Izuku had been ridiculously motivated by what had happened, thanking me for my support and friendship profusely in that adorable rambling way of his (~aww~) whilst explaining that he needed to prove himself to my brother.

Tch. These two, I swear-

Katsuki ignored Izuku like he was a chair from that moment on. Well, if you discounted the times he purposefully got between us, cut us off, or attempted to physically nab me for group assignments and pairings even if we’d already agreed-

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Izuku from trying.

“H-hey, Kacchan-” Came the younger boy’s voice over my brother’s shoulder. Despite a small, irritated twitch, Katsu showed no sign he’d heard him as he continued to rail at me for ‘not waiting’. (It was his fault for taking so long in the boy’s showers after gym that I’d thought he’d left…just saying.)

“Izu-kun, I’d love to talk to you about my Quirk!” I cut across my twin, maliciously enjoying how his eyebrow started twitching. “Let’s go to my place, yeah? Kaa-san would love to see you again!”

Spinning around to loop my arms between theirs and locking my elbows to they couldn’t escape (Izuku in embarrassment and Katsuki when he exploded), I frog marched us out of the door and into the late afternoon sun.

As we walked home, I couldn’t help but notice how we’d all grown.

To my everlasting aggravation, and despite being identical (even though I knew it didn’t always work that way), Katsuki was a good three inches taller than me. At Five foot even, I was howling in indignation in my soul-

I used to be 5’11”-!

Even Izu-kun was taller! (Okay, just over an inch wasn’t much but still) And, yeah, I knew I could still grow – we were only 12, for crying out loud – but it was the principle of the thing! Izuku was such a cutie, like another little brother (Ha! Take that, three-minutes-in-Second-Place-Katsu!) and it wasn’t fair, I was the oldest.

The walk was tense, filled with me trying to coax Izuku to speak in full sentences about his day whilst Katsuki, still firmly trapped in the hook of my other arm, glowered in the background. Izuku only really got this terrified when he was uncomfortable with the situation or had to speak to people who made him nervous.

Katsuki fell into both categories, despite the younger boy’s determination that my brother was ‘amazing’.

Like, “yes, I agree!” but the two of you need a fuck tonne of space. I’d talked myself horse at a stoic Katsu, trying to get him to look at Izuku differently. And, after ages of listening to my 12-point-plan on how to reconcile, Katsu had calmly told me that Izuku was a “shitty waste of space” and he’d leave him alone if I “wanted a fucking pet so bad”, but that was the most he’d do. I hadn’t been pleased.

After that fight, Kaa-san made the least-spicy food she could for two whole weeks whilst we were grounded. I wasn’t allowed to watch my Hero fight recordings the entire time. Grr. I wasn’t Izuku or Katsuki, a Fanboy/girl, but those fights were better than any film I’d even seen!

When we finally – finally! – got back to our place, Kaa-san and Papa were more than happy to Izuku again and welcomed the green-haired boy in with open arms, much to Katsu’s aggravation.

When Izuku joined Tou-san and I for my Quirk training, I chuffed a laugh when I caught sight of his Quirk Journal, open on my page and pen poised.

“Alright, Kagami, I want you to try and light the candle, okay?”

This had been our most recent project, lighting things that were flammable. I’d suggested that I try a spark some oil but my folks had given me a look. They knew that, one, it was so much more dangerous that way, two, it was dangerous, and three, that I’d started…liking the tingling of my fingertips. When I first learned how to set my own skin alight, when I’d burned through my top, I’d felt like I was tingling.

Fire never hurt me or made me feel like I was burning or anything. It was like the most deliciously satisfying tingles and a warmth, like dipping into a perfect bath-

Ahem.

So yeah, I had to light I candle.

Izuku and Papa were chatting in front of me, watching from the other side of the table so, if anything happened and a fire started, they’d be able to jump clear. The two got on rather well (Izu-kun called our folks ‘Auntie’/ ‘Uncle’ and, despite his issues with her son, Katsu either never bothered to break the habit or didn’t have the heart to stop calling Inko the same. Obviously, I was more than happy to call that darling woman ‘Auntie’ any day of the week!) and were chatting about Hero costumes.

Ignoring the two, and trying not to think of the fact I’d been doing this for weeks, I tried again.

I’d been getting pretty good at it, getting the wick to smoke and turn black. But that was it! No fire! I mean, considering how hard I’d had to work the past 8 years...this was brilliant progress and I’d never stop thanking whatever god had taken that tiny sliver of a chance that I could control my Quirk and made it reality.

But I was so- frustrated! So, what? I could touch people now without bursting into flames but gave them red welts instead? I could make myself burn now? Except for hurting another person, how the fuck could I be a Hero when even the slightest brush of my skin hurt people?!-

Fingers angrily twisting around the wick, so hard it hurt, I pushed all my hurt and frustration and determination into my fingers. The tingles increased, skin popping like pins-and-needles and then my fingers turned red, like blood-

Spsft!

A large, scarlet flame danced on the wick.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The candle burned for hours.

After the first spark, Papa and Izuku had gone ballistic, shouting and scurrying around (Izuku had started writing furiously), and the noise had drawn Katsu (from where he was moping in his room) and Kaa-san to see what all the fuss was about.

I just sat there, staring at the flickering wick, completely dumbfounded.

It…it worked.

“The fuck is going on?” Katsu grouched from the doorway before he caught sight of the fire. Pushing himself off the doorframe, my brother strode closer, hands still firmly in pockets, before he leant over the table for a closer look. “It’s fucking red, Kagami.” Narrowed ruby eyes, lit scarlet from the equally red flame, turned to bore into mine.

Triumph flashed through me like a strike of lightning and I saw fierce satisfaction reflected at me in the identical eyes of my brother.

Progress was so fucking sweet.

…………………………………………………

By the middle of summer, I’d burned through hundreds of candles, lighting paper and rope, and was itching to try more difficult materials.

Like metal.

Hey, I really, really needed to score well in the UA entrance exam! Katsu placed first, I remembered because of his hilariously typical Sport’s Day speech, so I needed to be in the Top 10. At least. Or else, Katsuki would get equal parts insufferably smug – that he was ‘The Best’ – and pissed off that I could possibly be ‘falling behind’. Tch, that boy could be such a slave driver.

Like now for instance!

“Keep up, Kagami!” Katsu growled over his shoulder and I snarled back, not having enough breath to reply. Legs pumping furiously, I slowly caught up to run alongside him. His legs were fucking longer! “Fucking finally! Now, faster-”

This is what I got for pointing out that Katsu and I didn’t train together. The massive douchebag took that as a frickin’ invitation to start! It didn’t help that our folks thought it was great that we were training against each other (Katsu wouldn’t burn as much as others if I accidentally touched him without concentration etc. and everyone else either became homicidal or cried if left too long with my twin) and the explosive blond was right. As much as it annoyed me. I needed to get faster. We both did, in all honesty. We’d improved by leaps and bounds in fighting (Katsuki was, slowly and surely, catching up. Whilst I was still clearly the better fighter, Katsu had a ruthlessness and drive which made him tricky) but we needed higher manoeuvrability. Which meant that Katsuki got to, basically, run me into the ground.

Puffing and sweating my way past another streetlamp, I absently wondered if this was Katsuki’s revenge for being the weaker fighter between us. Obviously, it wasn't enough that he was, funny enough, the academic between us. Well, discounting English.

The vaguely smug cloud that hovered over him seemed like enough confirmation. Tch, cheeky brat.

We ended up running two more laps of the neighbourhood, six in total (Six! That’s, like, miles ), and only stopped because Katsuki ‘didn’t want to fucking strain something’. The idiot was bent double, covered in a light sheen of sweat and his face and neck flushed an angry red. Okay, I couldn’t really talk, considering that I was incapable of words and my legs were shaking.

Katsuki had been doing this recently (we were only twelve, cry ), where he’d force us to the very limit every single time we worked out. He did this for everything! Insisting on fighting, inside and out of the dojo, going on insane runs and practising his Quirk all the damn time.

If he put another scorch mark in our house, I think Kaa-san was going to kill him.

But, I knew what was frustrating him enough to force him to push us so hard. Especially his insistent inclusion of me.

A couple of months into our karate classes, I asked Izuku if he wanted to tag along.

To me, it made perfect sense. The boy was bullied, so the self-defence would help, and he didn’t have a Quirk to ‘fall back on’. He needed to learn how to fight and defend himself. And maybe it would help with his self-confidence, as well! Not to mention that, if All Might needed him be to be so much stronger to accept One for All, then I had to start Izuku as early as possible.

***

It was 3:56 am but my brain always seemed to pick the most inconvenient times to kick into hyperdrive. Whether that was freaking out over a social interaction – not that I had that many to freak over – or wondering what the actual fuck I was doing with this life, I always found myself tossing and turning at ungodly hours. I guess I was destined to be a night owl in both lives, then.

Back to the reason behind my night vigil, though.

It was so very, very weird actually being in a universe I had been a fan of. Some things were the same – apparently, no matter what, you could depend on Izuku being fluffy as a bunny, inside and out – and others were tolerable. I could forgive cruel words and anger when they were aimed at me…others, never. But me? It was pretty easy to brush things off, or so I told myself.

There were other things I found intolerable, to say the least.

I didn’t really give a flying shit about the plot too much anymore. Sure, I was pretty sure I shouldn’t deviate too much, lest my knowledge become null-and-void, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t just tweak things.

I flattered myself that Katsuki was less of a dick for meeting me, that our parents had a better grasp on how to raise a fiery child, that Izuku had another pillar of support in his life. The butterfly effect was fucking serious shit, guys.

But, well…I had so much more I needed to do.

Izuku was a good friend, yes, but we only really interacted at school. It wasn’t on purpose! But Katsuki would mope around, in his own grouchy way, and Izuku would somehow end up feeling guilty (over what? Being friends? Tch!) and…yeah.

I’d been friendly with a handful of shop owners, and their kids, over the years, so it wasn’t that Katsuki had some kind of toxic ‘thing’ against me having friends. It was just that my only real friend was the boy he frickin’ loathed with every inch of his body. Joy of joys.

But Izuku had a serious storm coming, Katsuki too. And like fuck was I being left behind.

He needed to get stronger, we all did, and I wasn’t 100% sure as to how I was gonna do it.

This wasn’t a movie or fanfic. There wouldn’t be a cutscene where we all trained like crazy and suddenly OP-ed. I mean, come on! Izuku gets ripped in canon by pushing refrigerators around a beach like a Boss and suddenly it all amounts to nothing? That scene/episode had tripped me, in all honesty, even if it did make sense. But still…frustration. So, what could we do?

Katsuki and I had already been working out for a while. And, with the amount of effort I’d been packing into my after-school Quirk training and the number of explosions Katsuki set off daily, we were pretty strong on that front too.

But Izuku hadn’t done any of that.

He didn’t have a Quirk to train or a sibling to beat the shit out of him (I was still reigning Queen on the dojo whilst Katsuki extracted revenge on our runs).

Normally, right about now in fanfiction, Mei would magically pop out of the woodwork, showering gadgets and friendship upon our valiant protagonist like Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Now, I’d loved that film as a kid, even cried when I got the reversible dress-up gown for Christmas, but it was never gonna win any prizes for realism.

I guess Izuku was stuck with little ol’ me.

***

Izuku had scrambled to agree, although he was a bit hesitant to be in a fighting situation with my brother. But he seemed genuinely pleased that I’d thought to include him.

Katsuki…well, he hadn’t been impressed, to say the least.

***

“What?!” My twin snarled, expression livid and hands half-formed into claws.

“I asked Izu-kun if he wanted to join us at the Dojo.” I calmly replied, sipping my cup of tea and feeling a bit like a Kermit GIF. We were at the breakfast table, where I was picking through a fruit salad and Katsu had just bent his spoon. Ignoring how Kaa-san was nagging my brother about the continued destruction of our possessions, I picked out a strawberry and bit into the sweet berry. Fuck, if I didn’t love fruit.

“No fucking way is that shitty Deku-“

“Fuck off, Katsu,” I interrupted. “You don’t get to fucking call him that.”

Papa sighed deeply and I tossed the half-eaten, now half-charred, strawberry back into the bowl.

Katsuki was silent for all of 30 seconds – probably trying to compute that, yes, I’d just said that – before he snarled like a wild dog and threw himself from his chair, tossing his bowl in the sink and storming out.

“Katsuki, get back here! You broke another fucking bowl, brat!”

***

He’d fumed for fucking days . And it had been miserable.

As much as I gave as good as I got, I hated fighting with Katsuki. And I was pretty sure he felt the same. I mean, I’d never, ever been closer to another person – in either life! Katsuki was like another limb, in all honesty. We’d been together always, I’d seen him every day since we were born and, as complex and difficult as he could be, I loved him. He was my brother, my twin.

This didn’t mean I was blind to his faults. And I could never, ever stand for his treatment of Izuku.

Whilst, in many ways, Katsuki’s silent treatment of the green-haired boy was better, it was still not the truce I’d been looking for. Katsu treated Izuku like he was an annoyance, a bug that kept hovering, and I felt like pulling out my hair.

What the fuck was wrong with those two? Did they have some kind of cosmic fate to always be extremely complicated?! Why, oh why, couldn’t they just look at each other and agree to disagree and just leave it.

After a week or so, though (filled with pointed silences and thunderous expressions – joy), I’d finally snapped.

It had been on Sunday morning and I’d been up since 7 am, disgustingly early by my standards. The house was still quiet, everyone else taking advantage of the weekend to sleep in, and I found myself feeling restless. Taking a shower for something to do and then pulling my body suit on, I’d wandered past my brother’s room.

It had been over a week and he was still a dick and-

I kicked open the door, one hand shifting my wet hair towel to cover the left half of my face, and threw myself on top on the lump on the bed. I landed with a thump, shoving the shielded half of my head into Katsu’s neck and holding on for dear life.

Gak-! What the fuck-?!” Katsuki struggled beneath me, snarling and raging for all he was worth, but I clung like a koala, limbs locked securely around his. “What the fuck , Kagami?!”

“You’ve been a dick for over a week now and I’m done with it!”

A knee was jamming into my gut and I wheezed out my next breath. Not to be deterred, however, I finally wrangled my arms under his torso and proceeded to crush his ribs in the strongest hug I could manage.

“Oi! Brats!” Kaa-san’s voice roared from the end of the corridor, probably still in bed and deafening our father. “Not on the bloody weekend!”

“Sorry~” I sang back, my voice cracking slightly as I tried to drown out Katsu’s renewed swears. Really, it was just like those sibling-relationship memes all over again.

“Oi,” I barked down at my brother, accidentally parroting Mitsuki. Scarlet glared into scarlet. “Don’t be even more of an asshole and just fucking hug me!”

Well, my tender words didn’t exactly work. Oh, Katsuki hugged me alright; bear-grappled me back out the frickin’ door , duvet and all. Jeez, what a rude little bitch.

I retaliated by pouring all the hot sauce in the house down the sink. And refilling them with sugar, water and red food colouring.

It was not a quiet morning by anyone's standards.

At least Katsuki was talking to me again, though.

……………………………………………………………..

The morning that Izuku finally joined us in karate was beautiful, fresh and bright with flawless sapphire skies and a soothing breeze.

I sighed contentedly on our doorstep, straightening up from tying my laces and beamed out at the world.

The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and Katsuki was swearing up a storm behind me~

“Izu-kun!” I waved when I spotted an emerald head coming around the corner, the Midoriya’s apartment only a stone’s throw away. “Good morning!”

Grinning nervously, the younger boy adjusted the backpack slung over his shoulder so that he could raise a hand in a shy, returning wave. “Ohayo, K-Kagami-chan…”

My smile softened into something more comforting, fonder, as I hopped down our steps to meet him at the gate. “Ready to kick some ass?”

As predicted, Izuku immediately started fiddling again, his cheeks stained a deep raspberry. “I, er, I’m not sure I'm m-much of a f-fighter, not like Kaachan or you, and I dontwanttobeaburden-”

The sudden, ringing silence inside the house was the only real warning we had.

A heavy hand clamped down on my shoulder and I automatically leaned into it, even as I shot a quelling glare at the idiot connected to it. Katsu…

“Oi, what the fuck are you doing here, you shitty Dek-” my elbow buried itself in between two of my twin's ribs, “-Idiot?!”

Heh. Apparently, Katsuki could learn!

“I invited my friend,” I interrupted, blinking innocently. “I thought you wanted a one-on-one spar with sensei? I need a partner then, right?”

“You can't spar with anyone but me,” Katsuki stared at me like he thought I'd lost higher brain function.

I squared my jaw. “I've got to try eventually, Katsu.”

And, god, if I wasn't right.

I couldn't save anyone, couldn't be an effective Hero, if I couldn't touch people. Katsuki was great for general sparring, fighting without thought or trying to maximise my Quirk in combat. With everyone else...I could learn how to fight people safely.

I was 12 and had spent 8 years working on my control. With concentration, I could touch others, leaving only a red mark if I moved against their skin. But, that was only with absolute focus. In a fight...I wasn't sure I wouldn't do damage.

My twin squinted at me, eyes boring into mine as if he could lift answers straight from my brain. I know I always said we were identical (we weren't, I was a girl after all) but sometimes it was quite scary. Looking into eyes just like mine. I'd never looked like someone so much before and it sometimes really threw me in a loop. Even after all these years.

“That's a stupid fucking idea.”

Reaching up to grab the hand on my shoulder, I yanked it down until Katsu's arm was slung around me. “That'll be on me, in that case.”

“M-me too, Kacchan!” Izuku chimed in, hands clutching his shoulder straps. Katsu, predictably, ignored his input.

My brother still didn't look impressed, possibly mentally denying that he'd ever let me take a fall by myself, but exercised rare verbal self-control as I wrapped my arm around his torso and started pulling us out the gate.

“See you later, brats! And be good !” Mum snickered from the doorstep, watching us go with a knowing smirk and quirking her hand in a casual wave. Well, at least someone thought it was funny.

The train ride was akin to having lunch on a hill you knew was actually a sleeping dragon. I managed to hold a pretty normal conversation with Izuku the entire trip, gently teasing him about his All Might memorabilia and sneaking in a few subtle jabs are my brother's own collection. Katsuki, for his part, simply held onto the overhead bar either side of me, cordoning off access to my visible skin as was standard procedure for us, and kissing his teeth every now and then. Lest we forget how angry and disapproving he was. Tch.

The sleeping dragon, or ignored elephant, was the tension between us. Katsuki was pissed at Izuku for existing, at me for inviting him. Izuku was nervous for the class itself and by Katsuki’s general presence. I was pissed that Katsuki was being a dick and making Izuku feel crap.

And, just a bit...nervous.

There was a ridiculously high chance Izuku was going to walk away burned. Sure, I was only shedding my gloves, so the only exposed skin would be them and my face. But still. It had taken me almost a fucking decade until I could touch other people without seriously hurting them.

Absently, I wondered what Izuku’ s hair felt like or Auntie Inko’s hands. I’d only really touched Katsuki and my folks, and only my brother with any kind of confidence. That kind of isolation...it grates and grows. Katsuki had always grounded me and I loved him even more for supporting me like that, most of the time without words or anything, but it was like being in a fish tank. I wanted to explore, to touch things. The isolation hadn’t made me shy from contact - aside from the paranoia of sparking a fire - but, rather, made me touch starved.

That’s where I’d started thinking about Eraserhead.

It wasn’t just that Aizawa could erase my Quirk long enough for me to glomp everyone I could get my hands on, pet animals and touch the world again. He was a fighter, teaching by day and working his patrols through the night. He stayed out of the public eye both out of practicality for the job - underground meant underground - and an innate sense of modesty.

So many Heroes, especially considering how glamorised the job was in this world, were only in it for the fame. Like that flaming ass-wipe AKA Endeavor the Dickhead. But...Aizawa had proven that he did care. And his Quirk only really levelled the playing field, not even working on some Quirks, so that he was left to fight essentially Quirkless.

As far as I was concerned, he was the real Hero out there.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved Toshinori and the others but...at the end of the day, they had special abilities to finish the job, they flourished in the limelight. Aizawa was separate from all of that. And I couldn’t even put into words how much that spoke to me.

Anyway, enough with the deeply reflective tangents.

The train shuddered to a stop and Katsuki immediately started bustling me out the door. I complied with a tolerant roll of my eyes, reaching around and snagging Izuku’ s sleeve to cart him along with us. It was a Saturday morning, so the train was pretty busy and the flow of people on the platform threatened to split us up if I didn’t keep a firm grip on both my boys.

Katsuki shoved on ahead as soon as we were clear of the station, leaving Izuku and I to follow, chatting easily as we walked the last few blocks to the Dojo.

I waited with Izuku whilst he signed up for the free taster class, scoffing under my breath when Katsu immediately slammed through the changing room door and came out again before we’d finished. Idiot didn’t even want to share a locker room. What a fucking mardy asshole.

“See you in a mo,” I smiled, slipping inside the girl’s room. It was empty, the yoga class running around now having already started, and I quickly threw on my kit, tucking the top of my non-slip socks into the ankles of my jumpsuit so they wouldn’t fall down mid-fight. My hair was a bit too short for a single tail nowadays so I gathered it into two short, spikey bunches at the base of my neck. On one hand, it was scarily foreshadowing Katsuki’s ridiculous hero mask, if much smaller. On the other...I looked like a Pokémon (which they still had here!). It was a pretty adorable look, even if I got mild PTSD flashbacks to nursery. Well… people thought toddlers were cute for a reason, right? I could totally rock it...

Class was small today, only a couple of college guys and the three of us, not counting Sensei.

Izuku introduced himself to our teacher, smiling shakily when the older man cracked a joke about no Quirks allowed in matches. I facepalmed (discreetly) at that point. But, then we were lining up for our opening stretches and I made an effort to slow down when I noticed Izuku following my lead. He was actually pretty good, even if they were only stretches. Regardless, his balance was sound, a miracle considering Katsuki on my other side and his nerves, and he was a pretty quick study.

Sure, I had to pull his thumb out from his fist but, all things considered, I was already getting a good feeling about this.

It was at that point when sensei announced the first spar. Normally, we’d stretch, spar, perform our Katas (it took longer the higher up you were, considering you added more as you progressed through the belts) and then learning a new move, which would then be used in another round of spars. A cool down and that was class over.

For obvious reasons, Katsuki and I were always a pair.

I think Miles-sensei’s brain stalled when my brother, fuming as if he hadn’t thought I’d actually go through with it, requested to pair up with him. (In Katsuki-speak, it was a challenging demand, only just on this side of polite out of his grudging respect for the man’s fighting prowess.)

Izuku looked pretty green. I was 3 billion percent sure I looked even worse.

“Are you...sure you’re okay with this, Izu-kun?” I chickened out at the last moment as we turned to face each other, getting into the basic starting position.

And, just as I flippin’ knew it would, the majority of Izuku’ s fear dropped away. Ah, there’s the boy picked as Toshinori’ s successor. “I’m sure, Kagami-chan! We need to get stronger, together, right?”

Well, shit. Now I’ve got to try my best.

The worst thing was, if I failed, Izuku wouldn’t even be mad or disappointed. He’d just stare at me with those huge, emerald eyes and chirp on about improvement and strength and how he believes in me.

The looming cuteness sickened my shrivelled, sarcastic heart.

I’d combust like the tsundere I kinda was. (Those anime categories had always been headache-inducing. What if you fit into several, like I did?!)

So, I gritted my teeth and grounded myself, wiping my sweaty palms on my Gi’s trousers in a futile attempt to lessen my...flammability (fuck, was that even a word? Well, it fucking was now).

“Ready?” Miles-sensei called, bouncing with eagerness on his oversized feet and poised to go, opposite my snarling twin. “Begin!”

Izuku and I stared at each other for a long moment before the younger boy seemed to realise I was giving him the first move. It was only fair, he was a beginner.

And I was fucking scared, no biggie.

Izuku shuffled forwards, bare feet slapping on the laminated floor, and threw a loose punch towards my shoulder. I calmly side-stepped it, automatically twisting to kick at his ribs, tapping his stomach in a dummy-blow before retreating.

“One to me,” I calmly called, winking encouragingly as Izuku came towards me a second time.

I was mildly impressed when he learned from last time and aimed for my other side, stepping away when I made a move to retaliate after dodging. Then again, I really shouldn't have been. Izuku was intelligent, a good thinker on his feet, and I should never underestimate him. He'd always been insanely lucky, in his own, weird way.

Katsuki snarled like a spitting dragon behind me and Izuku reflexively flinched. I took advantage of the break in focus, stepping inside his guard to tap his chest in three quick punches.

“Focus, Izu-kun!” I deliberately stared into his eyes, feeling strangely mentor-ish. “Ignore my brother. In a real fight, a million little things will be going on around you; you've got to be aware but never let it distract you from the fight at hand, Okay?”

The future-wielder of One for All hardened his expression, eyes locked on my own.

“Yes, Kagami-chan!”

That night, I lay curled up under the covers with a considerate frown crumpling my brow.

Today had gone...well.

I'd not set anyone or anything on fire, Izu-kun would've had to hit me for that and all my punches had been light taps on fabric. Izuku had been great, though, a strong start that I could only hope would continue. Heaven knew that boy needed encouragement and confidence. But I'd already helped with that. He wasn't as bullied by my brother, something more akin to their relationship at UA than in school in the series, and less terrified because of it. Yes, he still stuttered and was shy, paranoid about people's reactions to his Quirklessness, but I had yet to see him break down in a frenzied sweat. Not since we'd hit double digits, at least.

I could only hope that karate would help. Physical surety, that your own body was dependable when all else failed and that you could achieve your goals with your own bare hands, was something Izuku could definitely benefit from. Not only because it might prove helpful with his One for All preparation, the entrance exam and his general Hero studies. Also...self-defence was always, in my book, a must-have skill.

But Izuku had done remarkably well and signed up for the same classes as us (I say ‘us’ but I really meant just me because if Katsuki was incentive, I'd fucking quit) as we left.

Katsuki, for his part, had been stone silent all the way home, guarding my exposed skin without a word or even looking at me, and immediately going upstairs when we came home. He was silent throughout dinner, half-lidded eyes shaded burgundy. I wasn't stupid enough to think he was ‘just tired’.

Today had been a resounding success, better than I could’ve hoped for. But that didn't mean I could sleep.

“Psst,” I hissed, poking Katsuki’s shoulder. I'd tiptoed down the hall in my pyjamas and I wanted to sleep.

Katsuki ignored me. He wasn't drooling either so I knew he wasn't just asleep. Dick.

“Oi,” I grabbed the corner of his duvet and, deciding to be proactive, lifted the covers to creep in next to him. “Budge over, you ass-”

My brother's shoulders twitched. “What the fuck are you doing , Kaga?” he growled, muffled in his pillow. I didn't give a shit. I had touch issues. Clinginess was a staple.

“I can't sleep.” Whining? Me? Fuck you !

“Go away-”

I lost what tiny scrap of patience I had managed to hold onto and decided to perch on the edge of the mattress before forcing myself to fit. On the tiny, single bed.

Out of sheer stubbornness, I managed to shove Katsu closer to the wall and just about keep myself from falling out. Ignoring my twin's spitting anger, I smiled into the pitch-black room as I nestled my forehead in between Katsu’s shoulder blades. “Aww, Katsu~” I cooed into his tee. “Looks like you're the little spoon, little brot-”

It worked like a fucking charm, I smirked, as Katsuki flipped around so fast I was almost thrown off the bouncing mattress. A hard forehead bashed into mine. The fuck did that on purpose .

…………………………………………………….

“Ohayo, Izuku-kun!” I grinned, waltzing down the corridor towards the emerald-haired boy.

The crowds parted like the Red Sea – they’d learnt to, years ago – and Midoriya glanced up in relief at my greeting. A shaky hand jerked upwards to return my wave and thin lips split into a crooked grin.

“G-good morning, Kagami-chan..” the other boy shuffled the books in his arms before stuffing them into his All Might backpack and slinging it over a shoulder. Even after a month of karate lessons, Izuku was still pretty twitchy. Not that I had thought for a second that some fighting would suddenly transform him. “Did you finish the homework for Danzai-sensei?”

Tapping a finger to my leather satchel, a wiry grin quirked my lips. “Yeah…all done,” I confirmed unenthusiastically. I really fucking hate writing in Japanese. “You?”

Izuku launched into a deep analysis of the worksheet as we headed in the direction of class and I nodded along to his rambles. A small smile softened my expression… Izuku really was rather adorable . The corridors were packed with students but I wasn’t even jostled… one of the only perks being me. Vicious swearing a few meters behind us had my eyes rolling upwards for fucking divine intervention, even as my arm hooked through Izuku’ s. Poor kid looked like he was on gonna jump out of his skin. For fuck’s sake, Katsu.

If that hot-headed idiot set off an explosion in these close quarters, I’d kill him myself.

“-piss off-!”

Was that smoke?!

“Katsuki!” I twisted my neck, straining my jaw upwards in an attempt to see and cursing my small stature. “Katsu, fuck off with the bullshit!” I valiantly ignored the idiot behind me who ‘ooh’-ed at the fight brewing. Well, in all honesty, it felt like all we’d done recently was fight.

Magically, praise fucking hallelujah, there wasn’t a reply and Izuku was lightning-quick as he yanked himself (and, our elbows still locked, myself by extension) into the classroom.

“S-sorry, sensei!” The green-haired boy stuttered, scurrying the both of us to our seats at the back and ducking his head when a fuming Katsuki stomped inside a second later.

Shadowed red eyes glared accusingly into mine.

I snapped my teeth. Bite me, sunshine.

Thankfully, for Izuku’ s blood pressure and the sake of the classroom, the teacher then called the class to order. Flowing cursive was quickly scrawled across the board and a massive grin threatened to tear my face in two.

Secretly listening to English music via YouTube wasn’t quite the same (Ariana Grande’s bunny outfit was her hero outfit now, can you believe it? Still sings though, so kudos to her). And watching illegally downloaded films didn’t change the fact I had to speak Japanese all the damn time, let alone read and write it.

We were supposed to write a short paragraph in English, our names and basic introduction stuff, just to practice the writing form and our alphabets.

I was no genius in school; sure, I was smart (with 2/3rds of a degree under my belt, I would bloody well hope I was educated) but I hadn’t touched maths in years before I was reborn , aside from adult-ing with finances and rent, never mind the language barrier. My head was stuffed with knowledge but that meant jack-shit when I couldn’t get the words out.

So, naturally, I seized English classes like the god-send they were.

30 seconds later, half way through my extremely poetic description of my bedroom, a pointed cough sounded to my left.

“Hmm?” I asked Izuku, finishing my sentence on the exact shade of my walls, a comparison between summer skies and precious gems. A glance to the side showed Izuku pointing his pen at the boy to my right who was…copying my sheet.

Idiot .

One, did they really think the teacher would let that slide? And two, would anyone believe them that their name was secretly ‘Kagami’ and their bedroom had about 8 million cushions piled on the bed? Exactly, I didn’t think so, fucker.

But I wasn’t gonna let anyone think I’d tolerate that crap so, casually pulling off my glove, I hovered my index finger over my name in the middle of their paragraph. The boy, Shindou, was an idiot, who’d pushed Izuku around since nursery and was notorious for cheating off the younger boy. I was, therefore, justified.

“Oops,” I faux-gasped, “looks like you spelled my name…and my entire answer…by mistake. ” My finger dropped to touch the paper. “Let me…” a flick and the sheet sparked a light, “...fix that for you.” And then, before anyone could notice or the fire spread too much (I wasn’t my brother, for crying out loud) I pulled my glove back on and swiped my protected skin over the flame, extinguishing it.

The sheet was ruined, a lovely hole right in the middle, and Shindou was sweating like a pig.

“Sensei!” I thrust my other hand into the air, plastering an appalled expression on my face. “Shindou-san asked me to read over his work but I-I didn’t mean to! It was an accident!”

The teacher rushed over, sighing deeply at the ruined page and the scorch mark on the desk. When I had first developed my Quirk, all staff had been strongly warned about the ramifications. Seems the staff had yet to forget. Well, at least it was helpful in this incidence. “It’s fine, Kagami-san, your Quirk is a difficult one, I’m sure we all understand. Shindou-san, did you have much written down?”

Small black eyes flickered to meet mine before the other boy shook his head. “No, sensei, just my name.”

Handing out a new sheet and accepting my finished work, sensei soon returned to the front of the classroom and our row was plunged into silence.

Did…was I too harsh?

I’d drawn a line in the sand and that boy was a sheep, picking on Izuku in that all-encompassing passive-aggressive way, but…using my Quirk that way…I felt dirty.

A sharp finger poked my ribs as the bell rang and I turned to meet burning emerald. “Calculus?” Izuku smiled gently.

“Y-yeah...”

The rest of the morning passed in a bit of a blur, my minor existential crisis still at the forefront of my mind, and it wasn’t until lunchtime that I was knocked out of my funk.

Literally.

“Oi, Kaga-!” Something hard was flung at speed at the back of my skull, colliding with a painful ‘ thunk ’ and sending my head into the lunch table. “You forgot your shitty lunch, idiot.” Ah. Bento-box-missile, then.

When I failed to respond, simply groaning into the white surface, I could almost feel my twin’s brain stutter.

I knew the feeling.

I was the preppy one, if you could even call me that, between the two of us. The Good Cop to Katsuki’s Bad. He was The Evil Twin and I was, er, Glinda the Good?

Regardless, I was fucking allowed to have bad days too, okay?!

“Oi,” a heavy palm shoved my shoulder. I didn’t bother reacting. “I’m talking to you, Kaga!” This time, fingers, rough and calloused, reached around to grab my chin and force my head up to look at him. “The fuck is up with you?”

Ahh, the dulcet sounds of Katsuki’s confused concern.

“Am I a bad person, Katsu?”

Okay, that came out a touch more melodramatic than planned, but I decided to roll with it anyway.

Blood-red eyes were equal parts frustrated and bewildered. And angry, but that was a given.

“What the fuck have you been drinking, idiot?” My brother clicked his tongue, looking weirdly like Papa right now. “You’re too fucking nice. Now, eat your stupid lunch.”

Evidently aware that most of the cafeteria was eavesdropping, my fellow blonde bade a hasty retreat, dropping my chin back to the table (his fingers barely even reddened from the contact) and I only just managed to avoid cracking my jaw on the edge. Wow , that had been alarmingly heartfelt for Katsu, especially considering the location. Rubbing my chin, I turned contemplative eyes back to Izuku, who was staring at me with the most heartbroken expression in the world.

No, seriously. Boy should have that patented.

“Izu-kun?” I blinked, even as I reach to pry open my lunch. It was a bit battered from the collision but basically okay and, taking in the OCD arrangements of the chicken bites and avocado onigiri, I realised that it must've been Katsuki’s turn to make lunches this morning. Aww~

“Do…do you really think you’re not a good person, Kagami-chan?” Izuku wondered aloud, the characteristic tremble in his voice vanishing once my brother had disappeared. I sighed deeply, carefully picking up a piece of katsu-fried chicken with my chopsticks and placing it on Izuku’ s lid. Wordlessly, I accepted the tuna roll offered in exchange.

“It’s not like that…it’s…,” I clicked my tongue in frustration. “It’s more about earlier. Shindou…he was a cheater and he’s always been one of those fucking sheep. But does that make it okay for me to abuse my Quirk like that?”

“I-I don’t think that makes you a bad person at all, Kagami-chan,” my closest friend refuted. “You were righting a wrong...sure, you could’ve just told the teacher, but you didn’t mean anything bad by it and maybe now he’ll leave you alone…that doesn’t mean you’re suddenly evil!” And there, there was that spark of passion. Izuku only gained confidence. “I’m sure you’ll be an amazing hero, Kagami-chan!”

People around us, some still shooting our table looks, slowly climbed to their feet as lunchtime ended.

The green-haired boy hurriedly packed up his (you guessed it) All Might bento, shoving it into his matching bag and clambering to his feet. I stayed seated for a moment longer.

“Izuku.” Emerald eyes glanced up to meet scarlet, my entire face softened by the small smile that quirked my lips. “I’m sure you will, too.”

We were five minutes late to class because Izuku burst into streaming tears.

………………………………………………………

I couldn't live this way.

“Papa!” I groaned, tucking my head against the curve of his spine as I glomped him. “Make him stop !”

The cold weather outside, great winds that stripped the auburn trees bare and ruined umbrellas, had chased everyone inside all weekend. Normally, I was totally fine with this. I could watch films, sleep in, and generally laze about. It’s not like I had many places to go anyway.

Unfortunately, Katsuki had other ideas about occupying the time.

With his drum kit.

‘Dum’, ‘da-thump’, ‘crash!’-

Dad, hand lifted as he poured us tea in the kitchen, flinched as the thrashing and banging upstairs only increased in tempo. Mum was out, the only one of us willing to brave the storm, having tea at the Midoriya’s. If she was here, Katsuki would probably have been yelled at to shut up already. I'd already tried, earning demon eyes for my troubles, and Papa was still trying to be the neutral peacekeeper.

If I got to paint, Katsuki could play his drums.

Dad had thrown me a droll look, pointing at the mess I'd made of the kitchen table, when I argued that the disturbance was a little different.

Okay, so I'd commandeered the kitchen. At least I wasn't rattling bin lids like I'd taken personal offence to everyone's eardrums!

I'd kept up my painting all this time, only half because of mum's insistence we were ‘cultured’, but also because I found it very soothing.

Delicate smears of pastels, thick strokes of acrylic, it was when I was painting that the world come to life to me again. It was tactile and tangible, nothing burning but vibrant beneath my hand.

I usually painted landscapes, places I'd visited before but had never seen in this life. The coastline of France, the lemon groves of Sorrento, the bustling square outside the Reichstag. A Swedish university I'd never see again.

But, it wasn't all from old memories either. There was the park where we'd first met the Midoriyas, the view from the train we caught to the Dojo. Quite a few had a blurry blonde figure to the side, the back of a little boy's head as he scarpered off. All my work was indistinct, like it had been painted through a smoky lens. But Katsuki had kept into most of them, the views not looking quite right without my brother being a part of them.

I painted a lot of fire too.

Red canvases with veins of gold, like streams of gems hewn from raw rock or dark shadows with a single candle wick. Those were always the easiest, impressionistic and simple snapshots of a muse that could never leave me.

And, as for Katsuki’s music? In standard fashion, he was progressing very well, exercising his increasing shoulder strength to play faster, harder, longer. He’d always made a point to be successful and this was no different.

Social skills aside, Katsuki and I were probably pretty cool kids to parent in that eternal ‘look-how-much-better-my-children-are-than-yours’ competition. Not that our folks really were a part of that, working from home and everything. But parent’s evening could get a bit wild, what with Katsuki, Kaa-san and myself involved.

It wasn’t my fault most of the staff considered me just as much of a devil as my brother. They were just so easy to troll!

But school was a weird place. I know I’d said it before but I really couldn’t stress this enough.

Katsuki still maintained his little following of kiss-up guys, idiots who snickered at the mention of ‘boobies’, thought I was a crazy psychopath and took great pleasure in picking on Izuku when I wasn’t around to terrify them off. Like in the changing rooms, etc. etc.

On the other hand, I had...like...zero friends beside Izuku. (I wasn’t going to count my own brother, that would be just sad. ) Sure, it could get lonely, but then I’d take a glance around the classroom and remember what utter ass-wipes they all were.

They weren’t all horrible people, no. They could be friendly and laugh and smile and be nice. But there was fear in their eyes when they glanced at my gloves. And there was malice and pity when they looked Izuku. Peer pressure or no, I could never stomach the friendship of someone who could be so cruel.

There. Melancholy: cured.

Except it wasn’t really that easy.

At the start of December, on a shopping trip with Kaa-san, a pack of teenage girls walked past our table. We were on the patio outside a little bakery, drinking tea and sharing some cheesecake, when a loud burst of laughter had my eyes flicking up curiously.

They were five of them, dressed in pastel coats with big, statement scarves and one girl had a beret. Their arms were linked, walking in a row with shopping bags swinging from painted fingers and their cheeks rosy. Maybe it was from the cool weather. Maybe it was because they looked so buoyantly happy.

Regardless, I found it impossible to tear my eyes away until they disappeared around the street corner.

I’d lived a lonesome life so far, taking what joy and comfort I could from my immediate family and Inko and Izuku.

Maybe… maybe one day I could have close friends like that too.

……………………………………………………..

By the time spring rolled round again, after Katsu and I had celebrated our 13th birthday, I started sitting in our tiny garden (little more than a patio with a shed). The reason for this?

I had a can, an old pickled-bamboo tin with the paper label peeled off, that I was trying to set on fire.

Candles were my friend by now, lighting most times on the first try and burning for a long while. Paper, too, was easy to ignite. Flammables. I could flick a spark across a saucer of oil, set a book on fire just by scrubbing it.

But materials, ones that would burn (in extreme heat) but not ignite? They were the next step.

I'd noticed that, as I attempted to increase and spread my fire, the easier it became to dull the effects of simple contact. I was shit with science so I couldn't really explain it. The one time I'd tried, Izuku had had to stop me short, explaining that ‘kinetic friction energy sparks’ were not a real thing. He'd got the gist but I didn't both with the science of it anymore.

What was the point? We were living in a world where people could turn into portals, have animal heads! I doubted there was a chemical formula or scientific reason for Shigaraki’s disintegrating touch! This was some crazy shit, screw logic and reason!

But, anyway, maybe it was a subconscious increase in control or an innate understanding of how my body was to control my Quirk. Like how babies have to learn to control their bladders- wait. Awful, awful example. Forget that.

Regardless, I had felt the change. And I couldn't be more thankful. Jeez, it had only taken me, ooh, eight years to stop giving people burns. Wow, I hope I don't hit the God Tier too soon (psst, that's sarcasm).

I needed to stop with the fic comparisons, honestly. This was real life, I had no room for fucking around.

The tin can stared at me on the patio and I had the worst déjà vu. Except, I honestly didn't think I'd get this thing burning.

It had been different with foil. The metal was paper thin and crumpled up so easy, especially sweet wrappers.

Rubbing my fingers around the sides had got me nowhere so I'd taken to scrubbing my hands together and batting at the innocent piece of tin.

I'd not really made any progress on that front either.

It wasn't like I could run to the library or go online to look up cheats! There were no maths or science or answers for this. It was just me and my body, being an ass.

What I did know, however, was how bizarre ‘sweat-based’ Quirks were. Katsuki sweated just as much as anyone else, and I was the same. That didn't seem to stop him from being able to produce massive explosion after explosion after explosion, all at a rate far too quick for his glands to keep up with. And as for little ol’ me? I could set shit on fire with a brush of my skin. The weirdest bit? I'd never sweated enough in day-to-day life to technically allow places like my legs or arms to be a hazard.

Guess what was always, unfailingly - unless I was in the snow or water -, capable of producing a spark? Every part of my skin.

Don't even ask me why, I'd given up on it a long, long time ago. Science here only got you so far.

And don't try and reason with me that Aizawa had some kind of enzyme or electromagnetic gaze that logically allowed him to erase Quirks. Pfft.

So, yeah, I didn't have anywhere to go for answers.

And the can didn't even scorch.

By the time summer came around again, Izuku was thrilled with the progress he’d made, getting better and better at karate. In the past year, all three of us had entered several ‘tournaments’ and ‘levelled up’ our belts.

The first one, with just my brother and I, had been...memorable, to say the very least.

Each Dojo had its own belting system, the order of some colours differing slightly. With every ‘examination’, you could advance up a rung, swapping out your belt for an increasingly darker, and therefore stronger, colour.

As for me…well... funny story -

***

The tournament was being held in a high school gym a few blocks from our Dojo, the inside hall filled with kids from all different classes around the city. Everyone was dressed in their Gi’s, belts in a rainbow of colours with a few older competitors dotted around the walls, trying to look aloof and cool. I'd scanned the crowds and been sorely disappointed that Mashirao Ojiro wasn't here. Well, it's not like this was the entire city after all. I didn't even know where he lived.

There were a surprising number of even younger kids. I could tell our white belts, the beginner level, were grating on my brother. He really didn’t like to be less than anyone else, the proud fool.

No lie but I was itching to advance too.

Unfortunately for my bro, I’d spent many a night wracking my brain for the Katas from my old life. And I was pretty sure I had a few of them down pat, drilled into my brain from endless repetitions.

The senseis called us to order and we all gathered around, bowing low in respect before we were asked to perform the first Kata.

A few kids were really clueless but Katsuki had dragged us right to the front, out of reach of most of the flailing limbs and so that the dork could glare into the eyes of our superiors. Tch. But it went on like this for a while, more and more children falling out as they forgot the next move. When the first set finished, several them moved to the sides.

Katsuki and I stayed at the front, reciting the second which would see us advance to the next level.

And, when that was finished, Katsuki bobbed in a bow and moved to join the other white belts.

Only to freeze in enraged realisation when I made no move to join him. I froze too.

Fuck. I’d forgotten to teach Katsuki. Oh, fucking shit-

“You’re going for a higher level, aren’t you, Kaga?” He hissed, eyes dancing around the room as the more advanced students spread out on the increasingly vacant floor. There weren’t many of us now, only a dozen or so. We were going to be starting back up again in a moment or so-

“What of it?” I whispered back, shaking out my arms and settling into the starting position for the third time. “And, no, I didn’t tell anyone. Sensei is gonna kill me, so chill.”

Can you call bullshit on yourself?

The sensei in charge, a man with deep teal skin and stripes - gills? Maybe? - along his neck, called us back to order (mainly to shut up the smaller children and the watching parents who gossiped along the back wall) and my brother was forced to stomp off to the side. He knew better than to try and cause a scene. Not only would our advancements be denied but we’d bring shame on the ‘dojo’ (gym, whatever) and run the risk of being banned. Etiquette was a huge deal here.

In my defence, I’d honestly forgotten to include my brother. I’d been a bit distracted, trying to dredge up the moves from my memory, and the thought had completely bypassed me. Hell, the world didn’t revolve around placating Katsuki, after all.

I did feel guilty, though. I promised myself I’d ask sensei to put us forward for the next available tournament after this one, and teach Katsuki as many Katas as I could myself. Sorry, Katsu…

Aw, hell. My brother was going to go fucking ballistic. Shit, shit, shit-

The next Kata was monotonous but, when I failed to pull back afterwards, I could feel my brother’s stare boring into my spine.

It was after the fourth set when I finally admitted that the others were only half-remembered, mingled and muddled, and there wasn’t a chance I was going to risk embarrassing myself like that.

I bowed low in respect before making my way to the side-lines, sitting beside my silent brother and facing the front as the fifth Kata began. Katsuki didn’t look at me, staring at the more advanced fighters like he was trying to memorise their movements. His fists were clenched, as if he need to control the urge to pop an explosion.

The fights progressed well, the only scare being when I was paired against a blue-belt (fifth) who aimed a punch towards my head. I’d side-stepped fine but the move had shaken me, putting me of the back-foot the rest of the spar. It ended in a draw.

Katsuki earned his yellow belt fine.

I was handed a green.

***

Katsuki had been both proud and incensed at my advancement, gritting his teeth in fury as I appeared to coast pass him.

Naturally, it had taken almost three months of sulking for me to work that out.

(Sensei had been thrilled)

As soon as Katsuki had received the yellow band, he’d been gone, stomping out of the hall. Our parents, who had snarled encouragement (kaa-san) throughout our spars, crowed when we won (again, more kaa-san) and applauded us (both) when we progressed, were ignored as he barged to the exit.

Kaa-san had rushed over after I’d gone up for my own belt, gushing about how they hadn’t realised I’d be jumping so many levels and congratulating me for doing so well. Papa had followed my brother outside but, from the lack of explosions, I didn’t think it was going too badly. Yet.

“Well done, brat. You’ve shown how brave you are, even with a difficult Quirk. We’re so proud of you, Kaga-chan.”

Arms around each other, mum and I had gone outside to find Katsuki pacing the car park like a caged tiger, dad standing a few feet away and trying to talk him down.

He’d held his tongue long enough for us to get home.

“What the actual fuck, Kaga?! You going behind my back like a creeping snake?! Piss off!”

It was our worst fight in months, since Izuku had started the class, and the furious silences lasted until late January. Christmas had passed in a slightly stilted fashion (never, ever say that my brother didn’t know how to hold a grudge) but he’d still given me a present (a huge hydrangea bush, my favourite flowers - they looked like bubble baths, okay?) and accepted mine just fine. (For the record, I’d given him some cool band t-shirts that kaa-san had never let him get, on the grounds they were too stuffy, with plans to give him some awesome leathers when we were older. And cooler looking. I was totally gonna get a matching biker jacket.)

By the second month, he’d stopped pretending I didn’t exist, looking away when I caught his eye and talking over me like I wasn’t speaking. If it hadn’t been so unbelievably fucking rude, I would’ve been proud at his commitment and pettiness. As it was, my patience was gone and I started taking his toiletries out of the shopping cart, placing his hot sauce back on the shop shelf and only turning on the washing machine when I knew he was in the shower.

In the dojo, I mercilessly handed him his ass every spar. Not that he didn't go down fighting tooth and nail. Things got a little... scrappy .

If anything, my fighting back seemed to soften him towards me more, maybe he was even more like me than I’d thought and couldn’t resist the ‘trolling-after-my-own-heart’ vibes that had started going down. Regardless, by February, he was only ignoring me when the mood struck.

Perhaps I should have seen it coming but, when my brother started google-ing gym memberships, I was fucking oblivious.

Well. I was until he grabbed my ankles under my duvet and physically dragged me from my room, ignoring how I’d started kicking and screaming as I clawed at the carpet and Kaa-san yelled at us. He’d dragged me all the way to the bathroom we shared (our parents had their own tiny ensuite) and closed the door on me, blanket and all, with nothing but a “get ready, you lazy idiot.”

It was stupid o’clock and Katsuki wanted to go to the gym.

At this age, the cusp of puberty, it was a bit dangerous to work out too much. Exercise was good at all ages but things like weight-lifting and the machines? We were pretty delicate and still growing so had to be careful.

I told myself I was only going so that the over-zealous idiot didn’t slip a disk.

I was angry that he insisted we run there, though. And, when an extremely late storm hit the city... Yep, running in the snow. What an actual asshole.

I’d never been in better shape, though, as sad as it was to say when I was only a midget 12-year old. But it was true; casual sports in my previous life didn’t really compare to the intense ‘regime’ Katsuki insisted on inflicting on our poor selves. But, honestly. I was 5 ft. 3, not even a teenager, and I had arms to make Michelle Obama jealous! Who said this life didn’t come with perks?!

On the other side of the coin, whilst Katsuki was passive-aggressively punishing me for reaching a higher karate level than him, I was choking on bitterness regarding our Quirks.

I had lived much more of my life in a bodysuit than I had out of it. All the while, Katsuki was revelling in the thoughtless control and strength of his own power.

Urgh.

On a happier note, Izuku had advanced to yellow only a month after my brother.

Despite his seemingly nervous disposition, I knew a will of fucking iron lurked beneath that adorable face. The discipline of the martial art, alongside my brother’s indifference, helped him flourish somewhat. Another plus was the fact that there were no fight- fights in the dojo and I'd always made sure to intervene if it looked like those two were going to wind up as opponents. Thankfully, mercy of fucking mercies, Miles-sensei had proven to be the kind of man who understood that some people didn't get on. He never forced them to ‘settle their differences’, simply making it plain that he would not tolerate malice inside his dojo.

By the following springtime, just before Katsuki and I were due to turn 14, I had advanced to a red belt, Katsu had a green and Izuku was a solid orange.

My brother had taken offence at my maintained ‘lead’, seemingly too busy trying to best me to be too upset by Izuku’ s improvement. Well, as far as I knew.

So, on an afternoon when my brother was training his Quirk at the junkyard beach, I asked Izuku to meet me at the park for a bit of extra training.

We'd all been progressing great but I wasn't stupid enough to sit on my perceived laurels. Well, I fucking hoped I wasn't.

“Hey!” I called, jogging lightly as I spotted a head of emerald curls waiting beneath a tree. School was out for the day, only finishing half an hour ago, and I'd had to shake off my brother before I could come over. And grab a few things, of course.

Izuku turned to greet me, only to pause at my outfit. The green-haired boy was casually dressed in his favourite red trainers with mint jogging pants and a plain white tee. “Kagami-chan, w-what is...that?” A hesitant finger pointed to the pale-grey bodysuit, white trainers, elbow length gloves and pollution mask that covered my lower face.

I looked like a shitty cosplayer, I knew it!!

“I- I look crap, don't I?” I grimaced, plucking at the full-length cyclist’s suit I usually wore beneath my clothes. But...it was such a mild day, almost like summer had arrived already...Against my wishes, my eyes prickled a little.

Maybe it was because he was such a sweetheart. Maybe it was because Izuku was such a crier himself. Either way, my friend seemed to realise how embarrassingly close I was to crying and rushed to close the few steps separating us.

“N-no!” He frantically patted my back which, naturally, only made me want to cry more . “You don't look stupid! You look professional, like All Might! Like a Hero!!”

My forehead collided with his shirt-protected collarbone with a dull ‘thump’. “I look like an idiot !”

The doctor's mask combined with my natural albino-ish colouring made me look like some weird, Modern AU Kakashi costume!

A hesitant arm curled around my shoulders and I froze for an instant. Izuku’ s T-shirt was short sleeved , there was only one layer between us! Izuku and I hooked arms all the bloody time, most school days in fact, but I was still a little surprised. I wasn’t in as many layers as normal, which had me feeling twitchy.

“You look c-cool, Kagami-chan,” Izuku pasted a smile on his face, looking a bit self-conscious. “So, don’t worry, okay?”

Pulling back, I sniffed a little and tried for my own smile. “Okay...Let’s get started then?”

Finding a good spot, leaving our stuff beneath a nearby tree, Izuku and I faced off.

“Ready?”

Behind the white of my pollution mask, an involuntary smile stretched my lips. Izuku smiled determinedly back.

“Spar!”

And, so, another routine was born.

……………………………………………………..

Katsuki liked to, er, wreck shit when he trained. He'd blast old fridges, try and burn through rubber tires, and generally be a lil Bitch on a power high.

Considering the fact I needed intense concentration, I put my foot down at joint Quirk training sessions a long, long time ago.

Then again, the few times I'd tagged along to the beach with my bro had been hilarious . Katsuki often forgot himself and started laughing as if he was having the time of his life. To see my usually grouchy, angry twin let loose, even if it was in a slightly megalomaniac way, was quite the sight.

Head thrown back in a snarl of triumph as he exploded another innocent hunk of trash, he'd abruptly break into roaring laughter. It was the most hilarious sight and I always burst into my own uncontrollable snickers at the sight of the dork.

But, anyway, I'd always lose my shit and never get anything done.

Ergo, my own training at home.

Despite moving past cheek-kisses, most of my practices were supervised by Papa. Sure, Kaa-san’s Quirk meant she wouldn't scar but I'd moved past that point now. Or rather, I just needed refinement. I still left marks but, considering everything I wanted to achieve as a Hero and before I started UA (god, I hoped I could get in ), I needed to make strides.

Papa understood fire and control more than my mother ever really could. Dad couldn't control his Quirk like an on/off switch like I had always dreamed of. But, he did know his limits and he had never, ever burned Katsuki and I.

And, ever since that day with the candle, Izuku liked to help me too.

“How's the, er, visualisation, Kagami-chan?” the younger boy's hesitant voice broke the anticipatory silence of the kitchen.

Ruby eyes, shadowed with resignation, glanced up to meet his and I heaved a sigh. The tin can was doing nothing more than scorch slightly, faint black lines that followed the path of my fingers. At this rate, I was feeling like Aladdin in a cave of lamps looking for the Genie. A rub here, a scratch there, and still; no spark.

“It's hard,” I admitted. My eyes fell back to the table top, unable to look into that hopeful gaze any longer. “It feels so different from lighting the candles and stuff. The...the fizz is missing! Before, my fingers heat up and bubble, like lava just beneath my skin. But, with this? Fuck all!” Aggravated, I batted the can away.

It clattered, rolling precariously close to the table edge, only to be caught before it could fall. A book, a tattered and dog-eared sketch book, was dropped in front of me. It was open on the third page and proudly displayed my own likeness. Rubbed-out pencil lines, showing how Izuku had altered the picture as we had grown, dented the thin page. My hair was drawn short, the outline of my ponytail still visible and a happy smile was etched on my face. I'd seen the drawing a million times but it still made me feel warm. Every single rendition had had that smile; beaming and confident without hesitation. I didn't know if that was truly how Izuku saw me but...it made me want to be that girl, who seemed to inspire hope and the promise of security just by looking at her.

Maybe I was just looking too much into it. It was just a sketch after all. But, I knew Izuku. This kinda stuff...it was always truthfully and intentionally done. He truly was a sweet and honest boy.

The 14-year-old in question placed the can back in front of me before tapping a finger, nails nervously bitten to the quick, to a new paragraph on the left-hand side of my diagram.

“I did some thinking, considering your difficulties with less flammable items. I sincerely doubt, unless you can bolster your Quirk drastically, that you will be able to inflict the same degree of damage to mineral materials. Generally, they heat up to incredibly high degrees before melting and, even then, they don’t burn like you'd want. Therefore, I think the most you will be able to do it weaken the material, wearing it down until it's molecular structure is either easily malleable or brittle enough to break-”

Fuck. Was he breathing?

“- however, your Quirk’s effect is the work of an instant. It would be like expecting a cigarette lighter to work like a flamethrower or even a blacksmith's kiln. You're going to have to be extremely clever with how you use your Quirk; naturally flammable materials, like nature, synthetics and living creatures are going to be very susceptible to your effects. Concrete and metal will resist you-”

“Izuku.” I leaned closer, feeling an unholy spark ignite in my eyes. “Do you have an idea about how I can take on that stuff? If I had to fight, oh, I don't know...robots?”

The little genius in question (oh, what a fucking gem !) smiled slowly, all nervousness absent. “I think I might be onto something, yes.”

My heart broke into a thundering sprint. “And?”

Izuku reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, unlocking it with a swipe and typing something into the search bar. “Kagami-chan... what do you know about electronics?

……………………………………………………..

I'd been a busy bee. You could hardly blame me for forgetting .

It was a Friday night, the windows wide open and a plug-in fan working overtime to cool down our roasting house. Sure, the sun had long since set but, fuck, if it's wasn't shaping up to be an unbearably hot summer.

The lights were all off, so that bugs wouldn't swarm inside, and Katsuki and I were strewn over the sofa. I was on top of my quilt, unable to stand the way the leather sofa stuck to my feverish skin (I'd changed into my ¾ length bodysuit out of sheer desperation), with my head up on the armrest and Katsuki’s hair brushing my thigh. It was summers like this when I suffered the most, my body suit sticky and sweaty and clingy and god, someone save me.

My twin had abandoned the couch altogether, flopped on the cooler floor with his eyes fixed to the blaring TV screen.

He’d unfortunately won the thumb war this time (he'd popped an explosion just as I was going in for the kill and, in the second I'd frozen in surprise, snagged my thumb under his). Which meant, that idiot could pick the film.

We were - sigh - watching the All Might movie for the millionth time. Honestly, between Katsuki and Izuku, I was boxed in by the No.1 Hero's fandom. Couldn't they fangirl over Midnight or Ingenium, at the very least?! I adored Toshinori Yagi but, god, if the constant adoration wasn't getting a bit old.

The movie dragged on, Katsuki howling and snarling at all the ‘right’ parts without a fuck given about our ‘sleeping’ parents (that wasn't a sexual innuendo - vomit, gross - but, just, how the fuck were they meant to sleep with my twin crowing in triumph with the volume at 70?!).

But finally - finally! - the credits started rolling and Katsuki heaved himself up, automatically thrusting out a hand to help me up too. Boy probably figured I'd be so lazy as to stay put and just sleep here. I mean...he wasn't wrong

“Er.” Katsuki choked after I'd allowed myself to be pulled upright. His eyes were fastened to the duvet and he quickly ran over and slammed on the light switch. “What the f-”

I followed his gaze. My brain took a second to connect neurons.

“Urghhhh,” I groaned, sounding like a winded bear, as my head dropped into my hands. “Katsu, get kaa-san.”

My twin shot me a ‘are you fucking shitting me?’ look. Honestly, he looked pretty freaked out, pupils like two red dots in his wide eyes. Well...there goes my peace until I hit the menopause.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Katsuki!” I rolled my eyes skyward for patience from above. Any kind of god had already screwed me over with the whole ‘reincarnation’ bullshit so I figured mercy was way overdue. “You get good science grades; do you honestly not get that I've just started my period?!”

My brother disappeared so fast, you would've thought speed was his Quirk.

A snarled conversation, my brother obviously not bothering to knock as he barged into our parent's room, and then kaa-san was rushing into the living room, her silk dressing gown casually pulled over her shoulders to reveal the matching silk nightdress underneath. I couldn't wait ‘til I was older and could wear nice things like that again~

The third and final pair of scarlet eyes in the Bakugou household caught sight of the crimson smear on my pale pink duvet before flicking up to meet mine.

“Throw it in the wash, Kaga, you won't want a blanket tonight anyway. You want pads or-”

Katsuki disappeared and, a second later, his door slammed shut. Pfft, had that dork been blushing-

“Night!” kaa-san and I called as one, identical smirks curling our lips.

“So,” mum turned back to me and started helping me strip off the sheets. “You know what toiletries you want?”

“Yeah,” I shrugged. I'd had the talk for this from both my mum and at school with the nurse, not to mention my memories of before . I honestly wasn't fazed.

“You okay, kid?” a soft finger tucked me under the chin, the red mark fading within moments.

My eyes flickered up to meet my mum's. This sucked balls, I'd been living the life of luxury not having to worry about this bullshit for over a decade. Fuck you, uterus! “Can we go shopping tomorrow?”

A wicked grin split kaa-san’s face and my own answering one appeared without conscious thought. “What a fucking excellent idea!”

The next morning, the cramps hit. It was like aching, throbbing growing pains from my belly button to my knees. Like when you destroyed yourself on leg day, like you were tiny and were shooting up half a foot in a few weeks. I could throw comparisons around all day but, take my word for it, it sucked balls.

But, I was a big girl so I dragged myself out of bed, into the shower and into another fresh bodysuit. A quick face wash and I was trudging downstairs in search of food and some fucking painkillers.

“Morning, spitfire,” Papa greeted me, eyes concerned as he rushed to pour me a glass of orange juice. My bowl of cereal, sans milk because then that shit would just go soggy waiting for me, was already set at my usual spot, a couple of paracetamol next to it. I knocked the pills back before allowing my dad to pull me into a gentle hug. He didn't say anything but he held me for a moment longer than usual and I found myself revelling in the warm embrace, despite the heat of the day already. He smelled so comforting, like morning coffee and his shower gel. But, best of all, he was so much taller than me that, when he fully cradled me to his chest like I was still that sobbing four-year-old, it was like nothing could touch me.

Unfortunately, the pain in this incidence was internal and dad's hug was pressing quite uncomfortably into my tender stomach.

My dad before had been completely blasé about periods, bras and stuff. He'd grown up surrounded by a majority of sisters and, between my own sisters and my mother, had learned to not even bat an eyelash at everything.

I could tell, by the wide ‘existential-crisis-of-a-father-who's-just-realised-that-their-daddy’s-girl-daughter-is-growing-up-way-too-fast-for-comfort-oh-shit-I’m-not-ready’ look in his eye, that Papa was only pretending to be a cool cat.

It became obvious that kaa-san and I were surrounded by dorks when my twin stomped downstairs for breakfast and, in a rare show of consideration, didn't immediately start grilling me on our training plans for the day. Heck, he hadn't even mentioned the usual morning jog! Not once!

And he was lucky he hadn't. I wouldn't be going on one of those insane runs unless it was my corpse being dragged along.

But, my twin was alarmingly...sensitive...the entire morning.

Sure, I knew that Katsuki loved me, we were thick as thieves believe it or not, but it was always a bit of a novelty when he actually went out of his way to show it. Kaa-san looked insufferable the entire time. Tch.

Whoever he married in the future...I was going to cry from mirth.

After breakfast, I ran upstairs to get changed, knowing that, if I made an effort with my clothes whilst still keeping it comfy, I'd feel less like a sick slob.

A thought, a little internal laugh, had me swinging by our shared computer in Katsuki's room when kaa-san announced that she hated her shirt and wanted to change. That gave me a few minutes to indulge in curiosity. He wouldn't have...right?

I checked the search history on Google, praying that Katsuki had yet to hit that part of puberty so that I wouldn't need to bleach my eyes, and sighed in relief when there was nothing incriminating to be found.

Before promptly slapping a hand over my mouth.

With my free hand I shut down the computer before booking it back to my room and bursting into uncontrollable giggles.

He...he'd Googled whether girls would feel able to exercise on their periods!?

“Ahahahahaha-!”

“Oi!” Kaa-san yelled up the stairs. She must've finished changing. “If you're done howling like a hyena, you ready to go?”

Wiping a tear from my eye, I called back that I was, grabbing my phone and skipping down the stairs. I absolutely refused to look in my brother’s direction. He'd get so bitchy if I collapsed to the ground, wheezing with laughter.

I mentally promised myself I'd pick that idiot up a new set of drumsticks. He was down to his last ones after snapping a pair a fortnight ago.

Kaa-san and I caught the train to the main shopping mall with takeaway iced tea from the cafe outside the station. Over my off-white bodysuit (bad choice on a period, I know, but I had to take steps in this heat), I was wearing a denim-blue playsuit and flip flops, a pair of oversized sunglasses perched on top of my head. I probably look weird but, in a society of Quirks, I figured a bodysuit wasn't a big deal. I mean, Midnight wore one, right?

The train stopped pretty close to the mall itself so we didn't even have far to walk all. A blessing considering that my mum had decided she wanted to flaunt her Quirk-maintained gorgeous legs with wedge heel sandals. I had little doubt that a woman like Mitsuki Bakugou could march to Timbuktu and back in stilettos but I'd rather not run the risk.

There was something about gloriously sunny days that had people flocking to shop. I'd always thought it weird; surely they'd go to the park or somewhere nice and picturesque to enjoy the weather? But, somehow, the shops were always heaving.

It was a bit trying, the queues stretching for days, but the two of us Bakugou women were determined to have a great day. “Just the two of us, Kaga!” Kaa-san had smirked with a wink. Jeez but I loved my mum.

Shoe shopping was the most stressful, the racks desolate after the morning crowds had combed through them. But the day wasn't without success!

Mitsuki found some truly lovely summer dresses, floaty with thin straps without looking too ‘young’, whatever the issue mum's seemed to find with that word. I found some cute new shorts, a new school satchel in a summer sale, and mum let me get my second lobe piercings done! Ha! Beat that, Katsu! He was still just rocking those tiny hoops I'd convinced him to get donkey's ago. Then again, I wouldn't put it past mum letting me get even more piercings as a show of ‘coolness’, so I wouldn't ‘go behind her back’ (or whatever bullshit) for stuff like this.

Absently, I wondered if she'd take her bitterness at my getting my hair chopped into a Bob with Katsuki, and not her, to the grave. Knowing mum? Probably.

But it was an awesome day. We tried on stuff just because we could and, having modelled dad's designs ever since they'd started dating, kaa-san was all for having fun with clothes. Urgh...so fucking cool, mum ~

We ended the day with peach iced tea, running into the music store to grab Katsuki's drumsticks before hopping back on the train.

I left them on his bed when we got back home, laden with bags and snickering.

And, when I went into my own room, there was a box of chocolates waiting for me on the freshly made duvet.

(Katsuki singed my hair when I tried to glomp him in thanks, all the while furiously growling that he had absolutely no fucking clue what shit I was sprouting on about now . Tch. Tsundere .)

……………………………………………………...

For our 12th birthday, I had insisted we be allowed to join the dojo. And, in my own, modest way, I thought that had been a fucking great success.

Kudos to Kagami! Extra stars for the fucking foresight!

However, great minds were often the consequence of good parents and, for our 14th, our folks proved this case in point.

Katsuki was more than thrilled with the punching bag Papa set up on our little patio and the limited edition Golden Age All Might figurine. (He'd tucked it away on a shelf I couldn't reach but, honestly, I was patient. I could wait . And that doll was gonna have a tea party on my brother's bed, come hell or high water!)

As for little, ol’ me?

My folks signed me up for fencing lessons.

And, no, I didn't get teary-eyed .

But...this was huge for me.

Sure, before, I'd been practicing karate since I was a kid and it was something I'd been good at. And I was so happy I could keep it up here, especially alongside Katsuki and Izuku.

But fencing, fencing was a weapon . An art in a way that karate was a discipline. Sure, fights in real life would lack the structure and ceremony of a fencing bout, but the chance to feel the weight of a sword in my hand again...that lingering sense of helplessness, like I was stood before a great incoming tidal wave, seemed less damning. I was more in control when there was a sword in my grasp.

I'd be starting off on a foil again, not the sabre I was used to (a much heavier, sharper blade. Much closer to the stereotypical image of a ‘sword’), but it didn't really matter.

Sequences and formations were still etched into my memory, carved deeper and deeper from relentless practice, so I could only hope I’d be allowed to transition between blades quickly.

It was an opportunity. And I was beyond delighted.

(Thankfully, my brother had no real interest in learning alongside me. Sure, words like ‘sword’ snagged his interest but the sheer amount of discipline and ceremony put him right off. Conceding points even if you appeared to have the advantage?! Not being allowed to run around like a swashbuckling Pirate, slashing everything around you?! Bullet. Dodged. I mean, Katsuki with a sword? Nope, I'm out.)

My lessons were held in a small dance studio in the nicer part of town and held twice a week.

The class was mainly filled with boys from posher middle schools, private for the most part, and were learning such an etiquette-based sport out of some form of snobbiness. I don't fucking know why they felt like that can considering the facts the lessons weren't even that expensive. Then again, the neighbourhood was on the posher side. Maybe they were just posers.

I was the only girl and it almost felt like some horrible rendition of Ouran Host Club . Minus the mistaken gender identification, the romance or anything nice like that. But I did feel like this was the part of the film when the frail girl simpered in front of some boys. Heh. Fat fucking chance .

The instructor, Ichiro-sensei, was a mild-mannered man, strict with a neutral visage, and helped me equip myself without an issue. I was glad that the protective gear was unisex so that I could avoid any cliché ‘baggy, second hand Cinderella look’ trope.

As I had grudgingly expected, I was handed a foil. It was the sword you stereotypically thought of regarding fencing, bendy and all the same thickness, lacking an edge.

“You will catch up to your teammates quickly enough, Bakugou-chan,” sensei fixed me with a considering stare. “Let me show you the basics before class begins.”

Most of the boys were around my age, perhaps a little older. They seemed nice enough, if a little full of themselves. But a few boys, one with specs and an unfriendly smirk and another with legs like a Jurassic velociraptor, were annoying me.

Ichiro-sensei took me to the side of the hall, alongside the wall of mirrors so that I could correct myself, and started instructing me on my forms. The basic stance, how to move into and out of a lunge and how to move around once in position. This body may have lacked the muscle memory of my old, the weapon feeling gawky in my gloves hands, but.

But .

It was like walking after a long time in bed. Your legs were half asleep but you could do it and you moved better and better with each moment. Generally, getting up didn't inspire the same sense of freedom and power but I think you get my drift.

Sensei was grudgingly impressed, his instructions trailing to a halt when I performed all the required forms with the slightest falter. I guess my lack of muscle memory was a help in this way; it was obvious I'd ‘done my homework’ (Huh, yeah, in my previous life ), but I wasn't suspiciously smooth in my execution, like I'd already started fencing.

“Very...good,” Ichiro-sensei frowned. The other boys had stopped paying attention, except for a curious one or two, when it became obvious I wasn't going to make a bumbling fool of myself.

Still frowning, sensei called the class to order and started us on our warm-ups. Knowing my own fighting style and what muscles I needed to take special care of, I did deviate a little but I didn't fucking care. There was no way in hell I wasn't gonna stretch myself properly. One, it was bad form. Two, my brother would still insist we train to the same intensity, regardless of my stiffness.

My first ‘trial spar' was against a boy around 16, dark hair and white eyes. Like, white, white; no pupil. I didn't assume he was blind.

And he really, really wasn't.

Miharu Kotaro was actually a very good fencer, stiff and with perfect form. He was on the sarcastic side of life, his few comments drawled out with a mild expression, but I decided that was cool. Pot meet kettle after all.

“En garde,” we called, standing just under two meters apart.

Kotaro lunged first, aiming his foil towards my lower left and I automatically curved my own blade downwards, redirecting his strike to hit nothing but air.

The point was lost, so we returned to our positions. This time I went first.

We tapped swords for a few moments but nothing much came of it. The thing with fencing was, because of the strict rules of points and strikes, experience only really leant itself in speed, tactics, and thinking on your feet. Kotaro was fast, so much so I was suspicious of his eyes, but we found ourselves at an impasse.

I won't lie and say I wasn't disappointed when I failed to thrash him.

Sensei called the matches and we bowed low. The helmets came off (Kotaro’s grey mesh was clear plastic so my theories regarding his eyes must be on the right tangent). The older boy was sweating slightly but I felt fine. Considering how my twin liked to physically destroy me every week, I figured it was all to do with tolerance.

“Good match, Miharu-san,” I nodded.

The other boy, a full head taller and built like a beanstalk, dipped his head in acknowledgement. “Hai, Bakugou-chan. You are off to a good start, I've been coming here for almost two years.”

I shot sensei a look. The man was smiling smugly.

…………………………………………………….

“Doesn't Midoriya want to go to UA too?” Yuri snickered from the seat in front of me and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Izuku freeze.

It was the last few days before we broke up for our short summer break and the topic of high school applications, of our future plans, had been sensei’s great idea to kick off the class discussion.

Like a mouse trapped in the gaze of a rattlesnake, a minute tremble wracked my friend's frame when the class turned, almost as one, to gawk. Their shocked faces almost instantly transformed into cruel laughter and I was quick to shoot poisonous glares at anyone who dared catch my gaze.

What?”

Near the front of the classroom, I could almost see my brother’s shoulders twitch when he froze in disbelief. Ah, shit . If he was going to make a scene, I hope he was aware that I was not above beating his ass in the middle of the classroom.

It felt like everyone was holding their breath as Katsu slowly turned around in his seat. I sneaked a quick glance at the teacher but he was simply stood beside the board, watching things unfold. Why...am I not surprised?

“Is that a fucking joke?!” Katsuki bit out behind bared teeth, his eyes wide with disbelief.

“That's enough!” My voice crackled like a whip as I half rose from my seat, hands spread flat on my desk. “Izuku-kun can apply wherever he fucking wants to!” I cast my eyes around the classroom, daring anyone to fucking cross me. Try it, just fucking-

My brother almost exploded his desk as he shoved it away and stormed to the back of the class, ignoring how he was forced to weave between the crowded rows. “You piece of shit!” he stabbed a finger at a gaping Izuku. “This is m- our origin story, the only two from this shitty school to actually make it at UA! I'm gonna be the winner, fucking No.1 Hero, and if you try and get in the way, you Quirkless -”

Mouth half open in a snarl, I sucked in a breath to swear up a storm.

Izuku beat me to it.

“I-I! I j-just want t-to try o-out, Kacchan!” Izuku’ s chair was tipped so far back he was a hair's breadth away from spilling out onto the floor. “I-I want to g-go for me, no-ot be-because of y-you or Kagami-chan!”

That...was…

Izuku had talked back to Katsuki in front if the whole class…! He'd never...!?

“Alright, everyone-” our waste-of-fucking-space sensei finally called out, trying to bring class back to order.

But the damage was done.

Izuku was shifty for the rest of the lesson and spent most of lunch in the bathroom, emerging with a washed face and a fragile kind of strength. But I was so proud of him . For so long he'd brushed off my brother’s poor treatment of him. Sure, he'd not exactly told my twin where he could shove it but, for Izuku, - especially considering that strange relationship he had with my brother and how he'd coped in Canon - I felt like we'd come a long way.

But I desperately needed to talk to my brother.

The last class of the day was gym, so I didn't even get the chance to corner Katsuki before we were split into teams (we weren't on the same, typical!). He'd never shown his face at lunchtime either, hadn't answered any of my calls or any of my texts.

When class ended for the day, I decided to catch him coming out of the changing room. Unfortunately, because of some stupid little girls in the year below, members of the ‘opposite’ sex weren't allowed to loiter outside the changing rooms, so I was forced to hold my ambush at the gates.

Puffing out my cheeks, I used the hands behind my back to rock myself off the wall onto my heels and then bounce back. Rock forward, fall back, rock forward, fall back. Shit, this was boring.

Where in the actual fuck was Katsuki? Surely, he hadn't been stopped in the corridor? Urgh, what had he done now-

Speak of the devil! A platinum blonde head rounded the corner and I immediately jerked upright.

“Hey!” I frowned, lips pursed unhappily. Katsuki didn't even glance at me or slow down. “What the fuck held you? I've been waiting for over half an hour!”

My twin shoved right past me, stride unfaltered.

I whipped around to stare in disbelief at the back of his head. What in the bloody hell had pissed him off? “Hey! I asked you a question, you dick!”

Katsuki didn't stop, like he hadn't even seen or heard me, so I kissed my teeth and chased after him.

Reaching out a hand, I snagged a fistful of his blazer, yanking hard enough to jerk my younger twin to a clumsy stop. I sucked in a breath, intent on demanding answers regarding his foul mood and his horrible behaviour in class when-

Smoke. Fresh smoke. Katsuki stank of it, like he'd been popping explosions only just before he'd come outside. And, trust me, I knew his Quirk only slightly less than he did. And vice versa.

The ramifications slammed into me like a sledgehammer. Dear god, I was a blind fool...

In a moment of horrible clarity, I could recall exactly what had happened after this in the original plot line. Had my presence, all my efforts, been for fucking nothing?

Not unless he'd…

“Katsuki,” was that my voice trembling? “Where's Izuku?”

And, finally, my brother responded. His head snapped to the side, one furious eye glaring at me over his shoulder. “What does it fucking matter? Why do you care about that piece of utter shit?!”

White hot anger burned through my veins and I tasted copper on my tongue. I yanked at the sleeve still in my grasp, pulling my brother around to face me. “What the fuck did you do, Katsu? Did you hurt him?!”

Something scarily close to betrayal flashed in eyes identical to my own. “ What? Why in the ever-loving fuck are you taking his side ?” Calloused hands gripped my upper arms and gave me a light shake, as if Katsuki thought he could rattle the nonsense right out of my body. “Don't you see he's just a fucking rat? Your precious pet is a fucking parasite , Kagami!?”

The calm, logical part of my brain understood. Katsuki, in that way of his, had reasoned that Izuku was riding along on my coattails, laughing at him as I unwittingly helped him look down on my brother. Izuku’ s declaration earlier had only confirmed his suspicions, bolstered the flames, that my friend was using me to pose a threat to the two of us. He saw my defence as a betrayal.

My brother, who'd held his tongue on his hatred for years now, had finally snapped.

I was just terrified to find out in what way he'd done so.

I had little doubt the kind of things, similar but oh so different to the ‘first’ time around, my brother had said to my closest friend. The reason he stank of smoke.

I could only hope I wasn't too late.

My hands came up and shoved, hard, on Katsuki's chest, forcing myself away from him and twisting out of his grip. In his eyes, he'd been protecting us. But really...he’d confronted my best friend, probably threatened him to leave us alone and never show his ‘cowardly’ face ever again.

In Canon, Katsuki had told him to jump off a roof and pray for a Quirk in the next life.

Surely…he wouldn't, right? He wouldn't do it again ?!

But Katsuki had always said so many things in anger. We'd snarled and spit how much we loathed each other, sometimes coming to blows, often lasting for ages.

But , we always said sorry. Mine drawled with eyes glued to the ceiling, Katsuki's grumbled into my shoulder when he pulled me into a hug.

But it was different with a sibling you knew loved you really, that you loved just as much.

If he'd done the same again, even if Izuku didn't follow that disgusting advice, I don't think I could ever bring myself to forgive him.

And, as someone who'd faced death only to be reborn, I would never wish it on anyone.

I turned around and set off at a staggering sprint, my limbs heavy as lead with dread.

Behind me, Katsuki yelled at me to come back. To anyone watching, he sounded apocalyptically angry but, as the girl who'd shared the womb with him, it was the closest my twin brother had ever sounded to outright begging.

I didn't look back.

I'd, I'd painted Izuku’ s nails last night, in yellow, blue and red. Like All Might. We'd laughed and watched movies, Auntie Inko joining in. I'd been over for tea after fencing class and ended up staying late.

Katsuki hadn't been too happy but that was him just being jealous.

Inko had painted my toes a shiny lavender, my fingers a flaming orange.

I'd shakingly done Izuku’ s. I-I had touched him and it barely left a mark because I was concentrating so much.

Izuku had cried as he held my hand for the first time. Inko had cried as she reached to hold my other.

I-I had c-cried too. Because I'd finally known the skin on skin contact of my pseudo little brother and Auntie. My family circle had grown again-

“Izuku?!” I slammed open the door to the school’s roof, panting heavily from sprinting up so many flights of stairs. The roof was empty but...I eyed the edge.

I hated heights. With a burning passion.

In this life, the highest I'd ever allowed myself to go (elevators and buildings didn't count) was on the swings as a kid. And, even then, the feeling of weightlessness before gravity dragged you back down to earth...I had broken a cold sweat, staggering away from the swing set and burrowing my face into Katsuki's neck. I’d told myself I needed to get over it.

I hadn't gotten over it.

And, now, I didn't even have Katsuki here to ground me.

Not that I was sure I even wanted him anyway.

My knees trembled as I approached the edge and sweat started beading at my temples.

It would be so, so easy to fall.

Gravity had killed me before, the thoughtless and dependable force of physics. It had pulled a huge aircraft, filled with babes and families, lovers and fighters, myself and my best friend, into the depths of the ocea-

I peeled open eyes I hadn't realised were shut. It only took a second to confirm that there was no gruesome tragedy on the tarmac below and I immediately threw myself backwards into the security of the stairwell.

Sliding down the wall, I allowed a few shaky tears to escape. The salt water was a tang on the tip of my tongue, the tears having dripped down my nose, head rested on curled up knees, to wet my lips.

I was gasping. I didn't have time to panic.

An explosion sounded in the distance and I snarled in frustration.

What an absolutely, fucking appalling day-!

Katsuki had met the slime monster.

Chapter Text




Running down the corridors, I'd never been more grateful for the insane workout regime Katsuki had inflicted upon us. My T-strap black school shoes slapped loudly on the linoleum as I sprinted, all but throwing myself down the stairwells and using my shoulders to shove through the doors, bursting out onto the courtyard.

 

A teacher, leaving late, shot me a dirty look but I didn’t give a shit.

 

Judging from the explosion earlier, there was a good chance my twin was being suffocated by a villain formed from sewage. Suffocating. Dying.

 

Events I'd thought I'd changed had still occurred. Who could fucking say if the opposite wasn't true too? Katsuki no longer being saved...that was a reality I would have no part of.

 

The anime was a blur in my mind after a decade, the manga only lingering in snapshots of my favourite moments and the overarching plot.

 

I didn't fucking know where shit was going down. I didn't know where Izuku had been strangled by the villain, meeting All Might (under some train tracks, in a side street?! I didn't know) and all I could remember about the second attempt, geared towards my brother, was the fire...the crowds...and that the Pros couldn't help him.

 

Couldn't help him my ass.

 

Firemen walked into roaring infernos all the time, surely the Pros could do the fucking same to save a boy's life?!

 

Another explosion sounded, distant but audible as a rumble of thunder. It was hard to say where it had come from originally but, shit, I had no time to waste. If Izuku didn't intervene, if All Might didn't...it was gonna have to be me.

 

If you die on my Katsu, I'll kill you myself!!

 

Another explosion and this time, mercy of mercies, a hazy cloud of black smoke drifted upwards, almost on the horizon. It was towards the shopping district, where Katsuki and I tended to catch the train for our extra classes.

 

Shit, shit, shit-

 

I broke into a run from where I'd been panicking at the pedestrian crossing, unsure which direction to try out first. My arms started pumping, my satchel swinging wildly against the small of my back, and I was soon flat-out sprinting.

 

A woman with a baby-buggy was coming towards me of the pavement and I carelessly jumped down the curb, running up the double yellow lines and ignoring how the incoming cars honked furiously at me.

 

But the woman reminded me.

 

How often in universes like this were the families disregarded? Inko had never even been informed that her son was being groomed to take Toshinori’s place, his Quirk, anything! And I couldn't bear to stomach the idea-

 

I barely slowed down, hopping back up on the sidewalk as soon as it was clear, as I rummaged in my uniforms inside pocket for my phone.

 

I called the number I’d last dialled before I'd spammed Katsuki.

 

“Spitfire?”

 

I was panting, half from the run and half from fear. It felt like I couldn't even get a proper breath anymore. Oh god, was this the day I lost a sibling?

 

“What!?” Papa gasped, absolutely gobsmacked and I grimaced, even as I swung precariously around a street lamp and headed right. Fuck, I must've said that out loud.

 

“Kagami, what's happening?! What do you m-”

 

“There's an explosion in town and Katsuki and I had a fight and I thought he'd told Izuku to jump off the school but there wasn't a body-”

 

“Kag-”

 

“-so I don't think he did but then there's explosions and I know it's Katsuki and what if he's in danger and the last thing I said to him-”

 

“Kagami!!” My dad roared down the phone, raising his voice for the first time in a long, long time. But it did the job, cutting through my sobbing rambles with the strength of an industrial laser. “Where is your brother now?”

 

I cast frantic eyes around the street, jumping across tram lines as the road disappeared into the open shopping district. “I'm not sure, I'm following the explosions!” a street sign caught my eye, “but I'm just headed down towards the plaza near the station!”

 

Another explosion sounded and, as I sprinted towards the bus station, I noticed a growing crowd.

 

In the centre, there appeared to be a raging bomb fire. Two fire trucks were parked on the road and I noticed, as I dashed ever closer, the abandoned digger further down the street. It was that building site, where they were planning a new office block.

 

Another explosion had the crowds yelling and a blonde head appeared between two of the massive buildings that lined this street. Mt. Lady…

 

By now I'd reached the edge of the crowd and I threw myself at people's backs with all the viciousness of a lion tangled in a poachers trap.

 

“Move!” I snarled, stabbing a vicious elbow into someone's ribs and ignoring how they shoved away from me with a pain-filled cry. “That's my brother, fucking move!?”

 

In my desperation, I shoved my phone into my outer pocket without hanging up.

 

But finally - oh god, finally - I found myself at the front of the gathering, only to smack straight into a policeman's arm.

 

The entire area was a fucking war zone, fire raging all around and shrouded in a thick, black smog that lingered like poison at the back of my throat.

 

I barely noticed any of this, the cries of the crowd falling away. I was ignorant of Mt. Lady's frustration when she realised she was too large to fit into the area.

 

A couple of hundred feet away, a huge and grotesque form was wrapped around a small figure.

 

I was dead to everything except the enraged, terrified screams of my brother.

 

Nails dug into my cheeks as I automatically pitched forwards, my momentum halted when a Hero wrapped me in a restraining bear hug.

 

The curdled shriek that escaped my throat was inhuman.

 

Wide eyes, pupils like pinpricks, cut straight to mine and, somehow, seemed to pop even wider. Katsuki and I were screaming together now.

 

My twin’s jaw was clenched shut, that disgusting villain trying to pry it open to force his body down Katsu's throat.

 

“-Katsuki!-” my ears seemed to pop back as I wailed and I was abruptly aware that I had moved from incomprehensible screaming to actual words again.

 

Digging a foot into the raw cement beneath us, I tried to push myself free from restraints but the Hero just leaned backwards, using his much greater mass to jerk me back another foot.

 

“Let me go! Let me go! That's my twin brother , you fucking dickhead!” I lashed out, kicking a shin so hard I fucking hoped they bruised. To come so far, only to be forced to watch as-

 

“-Katsuki!” I shrieked when another explosion was detonated. The smoke blew over the crowd but I didn't even bother to squint against it. I was too used to it at this point. “ Katsu !”

 

My brother's next scream sounded heartbreakingly similar to my name.

 

“Save him! Someone fucking save him, you useless pieces of shit!? Can't you see he's suffocating-”

 

The hard-as-iron arms clamped around me gave me, what I assumed was supposed to be, a comforting squeeze. I didn't even pause in my vicious struggling. “Sorry, sorry-” the young man, he couldn't have been older than his early 20s, chanted. “But we can't get close and my Quirk won't-!”

 

“Who gives a flying fuck about Quirks or powers?!” I screamed. The turmoil of the crowd seemed to pause at my words as they echoed around the street. “You don’t need one to save someone’s life!! Real Heroes don't think about that bullshit when they save someone, they just act ! If you wait for the perfect time to use your Quirk, you'll have failed countless people! Real Heroes do what they have to and they don't all wear costumes!”

 

Time froze for a handful of seconds and then all hell broke loose.

 

It started when an emerald head of chaotic curls broke free from the crowd, frantically dashing towards my brother and the villain slowly killing him.

 

My ‘captor’s arms loosened slightly in shock as he yelled at Izuku to get ‘back here right now!’ My anger and frustration spiked and heat washed under my skin.

 

Argh -” the young man grunted, dropping his grip as my struggles lit my arms up in scarlet flames. His own limbs immediately ignited, the fire spreading like nothing I’d ever seen. The scent of charring firewood filled my nostrils (Kamui Woods, it must have been him holding me back) as the young Hero staggered backwards, frantically trying to bat out the flames.

 

Meters in front, Izuku ignored the commotion behind him as he sobbed and screamed, clawing at the slimy would-be murderer. Katsuki's wordless shrieks only grew in volume and rage.

 

My best friend swung his backpack at the exact moment I started running, my shoulders and arms streaming ruby-red flames and my shirt barely hanging on.

 

“Izuku! Katsu!!” my voice was hoarse from the screams but I choked out a warning anyway as a fist grew from the sludge and struck the younger boy.  “You bastard-!” My furious gaze met those of the monster's, sickly yellow and gleaming like a poisonous toad's, and I sprinted the last few feet-

 

I was two steps from reaching out for my brother when a flash of white flew past me and threw both boys away from the anthropomorphic garbage. They smashed into me as they flew through the air and all three of us were sent tumbling in a heap. “Oh my fucking god-” I gasped, yanking myself to my knees as we slid to a stop.

 

My brother was wheezing, gagging on green slime as Izuku propped himself up on his elbows, his eyes transfixed on the fight.

 

A deep booming voice cut through all the hysteria and a great gust of wind annihilated the villain, generated from the overwhelming force of All Might’s attack.

 

“Ka-Katsuki..” trembling, I lunged forwards and wrapped my twin in a desperate hug. He stank of sewage and smoke but I buried my face in his hair anyway, ignoring the commotion behind me. “You're alive, you're alive…” I pulled back slightly to see Katsuki glaring at my best friend. “...You're...a dick, you fucking little -”

 

Red eyes snapped back to mine even as my brother slowly hugged me back. “Oi, so much for the fucking weeping concern you-”

 

How dare you almost die on me, I'll swear to fucking god-”

 

I knocked our foreheads together, my eyes clamped shut in case I did something stupid, like cry. My brother would never let me live it down.

 

An ambulance wailed as it came screaming around the corner and I leaned back with a sigh. Katsuki's arms, hard and warm around my back, didn't loosen. “Come on,” I turned to watch the hospital staff, vibrant in neon orange, split through the lingering crowd. God, they sickened me. It was different when you came to watch a villain fight but...these people had just stood there, watching a young boy being murdered. “Let's get you a shock blanket, hmm?”

 

Mouth set in a sullen line, my brother scoffed and this time I didn't hesitate to cuff him around the head. Lightly, of course, because this bastard has almost left me and I didn't know if he was suffering any head trauma. Dick .

 

“We are going to have fucking words later but don't you sass me, Katsuki.” I pinched his chin in my fingers and glared deep into those stubborn eyes. “Hasn't it sunk in yet? You almost died . I can't be the Bakugou Fire Twins all alone. Dickhead.”

 

My eyes flickered to the side as I pushed myself up, bringing my brother with me when his grip failed to loosen. “Izu-kun.” Huge jewel-toned eyes, fixed to the side to give us a semblance of privacy, turned back and I immediately reached to grasp Izuku's hand in my free one. “You were the only one who tried to help my brother. Thank you …” I managed to slip from my brothers grasp, threading our fingers together as a substitute and pulling my friend into a desperate embrace. “You were a Hero today, Izuku. And I'll never forget it…” I whispered, throat thick, into curly hair.

 

Izuku teeth were clenched tightly, his sweet face crumpled as the tears started to fall. I wanted to cry too, relief and adrenaline leaving me feeling weak. But I just held him as he quietly broke down into my neck. The anime hadn't shown this. The manga hadn't shown this. Fiction just...glossed over the trauma. Where a young boy had almost been murdered in front of a crowd, the Heroes of society standing by, and the only one to step forward was the boy he'd tormented for over a decade. It was a powerful message, a turning point in Izuku's life. But, as a real-life event...all three of us would dream of today for a long time to come.

 

The Heroes, waiting a respectful distance away as I tore into my brother, sensed a shift in our conversation and crowded around us. Orange blankets were thrown around our shoulders (it was summer, what even?) and Kamui Woods, arms blackened and ashy, moved to stand in front of us. Behind him, All Might (he was truly massive, close to 8 ft) was talking to some police officers. The boys, bracketing either side of me, had their guys glued to their idol but I found myself staring at the No. 7 Hero.

 

“Sorry.” I blurted, eying the burns along his arms. I didn't know if they were his arms or just a coating, but guilt squirmed in my stomach regardless. “I didn't mean to burn you.” His own eyes, strikingly white against his facial armour, eyed the way I'd draped the blanket to preserve my dignity.

 

“You can set yourself on fire, kid?”

 

He'd barely finished speaking before I was shaking my head.

 

“My skin produces fire when friction is applied but normally I don't...burn like that. It's only when I get, er, emotional that stuff like that happens.”

 

Wooden fingers rose to gently cup his upper arms, gingerly folding them into a poor attempt at his usual pose.

 

“You didn't mean it, it's okay, kid. That's a strong Quirk you have there.”

 

I couldn’t contain my scoff, bumping shoulders with Izuku. “You don’t need one to save lives,” I shot the Hero an unimpressed look and his feet shuffled uncomfortably. “People used to do amazing things before we had Quirks and some people do terrible things with them. The power doesn’t matter; the person does.”

 

The arm next to mine trembled as tears spilt from emerald eyes. I’m...I’m so, so sorry, Izuku, if I never made that clear to you.

 

A taxi came speeding around the corner, barely stopping before the door was opening and two familiar figures, one platinum and one brunette, came spilling out. The phone tucked into my sports bra, salvaged from the tattered remnants of my top, had been on the entire time. Shit...i’d never hung up. Our parents had heard every-

 

“Katsuki! Kagami?!”

 

Papa was crying as he used his taller frame to part the crowd, our mother half a step behind and pushing him to move faster. I’d never seen her so furious. ‘Spitting mad’ put it lightly.

 

I twisted to find Katsuki being congratulated by a few Heroes for his ‘actions’. I gritted my teeth, before throwing my hands in the air. “ Papa, Kaa-san! Here!”

 

Hazel eyes, red behind his specs, snapped to mine and my dad all but sprinted towards us, Kaa-san just behind him.

 

Struck by a thought, I turned to Izuku to see if Auntie knew...only to see he’d disappeared. A glance around showed that All Might had done the same and I vaguely marvelled that, even after being at his limit, he’d managed to loiter for so long...

 

And then our parents reached us.

 

……………………………………………………..

 

I woke up to screaming.

 

The room was dark, black-out blinds snuffing out any moonlight or street lamp, and my limbs felt stiff with sleep. Eyes blinking blearily, it took all of a few seconds for the situation to permeate my groggy head.

 

Screams, Katsuki-

 

I threw my duvet back, bare feet finding the floor and I staggered upright, colliding with my doorframe as I stumbled in the direction of the cries. They had quieted now, but I was wary of any explosions. It wouldn’t be the first time Katsuki had used his Quirk in his sleep. I’d done the same sometimes…

 

Our childhoods had been dangerous, filled with explosions and fire. Most things had been replaced at some point or another.

 

Kaa-san was stood in their open bedroom door, arms folded and eyes sad. Ah...Katsuki had probably told her to get lost, defensive as always. Normally our parents shook it off, knowing he didn’t really mean it, but I could see the hurt in their eyes.

 

God, Katsu...don’t punish people around you because they care. You’ll lose us that way.

 

The night after the attack, I'd slept alongside my brother. I'd cried and Katsuki hadn't said a damn thing, merely tucking my head under his chin and letting me cry out into his tee.

 

The next night had been the same, minus tears. Or rather, my tears. Katsuki would never have admitted it but I'd felt his frame tremble once in a while. Sometimes, his lashes were wet when he dreamed.

 

The morning after, Izuku had called my phone at 5 am, desperate for confirmation that the two of us were alive. He'd only texted once or twice since but I knew what had happened to make him so scarce. It was okay.

 

“Go on, Kaga,” Kaa-san whispered, hand finding the door handle and closing it behind her. I heaved a sigh and pushed myself into my brother’s room. My twin was curled up, back to the door but, from the stiffness of his neck and shoulders, I knew the little bitch was just ignoring me instead of actually sleeping.

 

“Katsuki.”

 

My brother didn’t respond for a long moment but my drowsiness had dissipated and I wasn’t gonna move for shit. He probably sensed that because he slowly turned to look at me over his shoulder.

 

It was too dark to see but I had little doubt he was glaring. As it was, everything in here was a dark smudge, our platinum hair only slightly lighter as my eyes adjusted.

 

“‘The fuck you want, Kagami?”

 

I clicked my tongue and debated how to break the ice. Because there was ice, had been since I’d befriended Izuku and Katsuki rejected him. Since we’d been butting heads. Under any other circumstances, I maybe would’ve taken Katsuki’s side; we were twins and, no matter what, I was first in his book, as he was in mine.

 

But I knew this story. Izuku wasn’t just a friend I was ‘choosing’ over my own twin. He was important , not just because of his role in the future. He was sweet and kind and Quirkless, beaten down by society and I didn’t think I was capable of letting him sink beneath the waves.

 

I’d thought I’d found a medium. That Katsuki would be content leaving Izuku alone under my ‘protection’; that, if I made him ‘my problem’, my brother would move on. That had been a rather disastrous oversight.

 

I’d never realised Katsuki was such a fucking good actor.

 

Oh, he’d left us alone alright. But he’d watched , suspicious and stewing, and he’d finally snapped. I didn’t know what he’d said, Izuku had been pretty out of the loop since The Incident a fortnight ago and Katsuki was a tight-lipped as a mime. A very, very resentful mime.

 

But my brother was still staring. I briefly considered being tactful but...well...A) I didn’t even know how to be considerate without getting my brother up in arms about being treated like a weakling and, b) I was feeling pretty angry myself. Papa could’ve done it, with shaky success. But for me?

 

“It’s 2 am but I think we need to have those words, Katsuki.”

 

My brother turned over fully, hissing swears and squinting when I blindly felt around for the desk lamp and turned it on. Warm, yellow-ish light washed over the room and left sunset-purple shadows.

 

“Spit it out then, Kaga.”

 

I plonked myself on the bed, crossing my legs and resting my elbows on my knees. “No getting angry and we're not allowed to go to sleep pissed at each other.”

 

Katsuki kissed his teeth, lying on his back with arms folded defensively .

 

I took that as an agreement anyway.

 

“So...what did you say to Izuku?”

 

My brother’s mouth opened in a silent snarl but his teeth clicked shut when I shot him a mournful pout. And here I’d thought that had stopped working when we hit double digits.

 

His mouth opened again. “What does it fucking matter?”

 

I swallowed an aggravated groan. “It matters to me . Izuku is my friend and he saved your life-”

 

A small spark flickered between Katsu’s fingers but no explosion followed.

 

“He fucking- he's useless, a Quirkless little- You don't need him, Kaga.” Katsuki frowned, hands shuffling restlessly when I didn't thread our fingers together like usual.

 

“But he's not.” I gently refuted, my whisper sounding strangely solemn in the low-lit room. The quietness before Dawn seemed to infect the house and I could almost feel the fight leave my brother. The stubbornness, however, remained. “He saved your life. That's not useless, never.”

 

Katsuki's jaw popped and I could just about hear his teeth grinding. I was grateful that he seemed to be working through his anger before speaking, instead of just exploding. People could talk all they wanted to but Katsuki wasn't an abusive asshole and he wasn't a stupid bigot either.

 

He didn't really care about most people, as far as I could see, but he didn't hate them. He constituted Heroism to winning, no matter how much I had stressed differently, and saving people was a part of that. Sure, it may have seemed like a shit reason but...he was a kid, we both technically were. Most kids joined a Hero course because they wanted fame, fortune, to use their Quirks willy-nilly, whatever! He had plenty of time to grow. And I'd obviously never seen him in action, yet, so how he'd respond to injured victims was still up in the air.

 

“I could've fucking gotten myself free, I didn't need that waste of space fucking shit up-”

 

Katsuki .” I rested a hand over one of his, skin barely touching. I'd forgotten to put my gloves on. Katsuki would barely even blister anyway, and that was only if I stopped focusing. “You were dying and Kamui Woods had a hold on me. The Heroes weren't doing anything, just watching. Izuku was the only one .”

 

“All Might-”

 

“-came afterwards, when Izuku was being hurt helping you and I'd started burning Kamui Woods.”

 

Scuffed, calloused fingers twitched beneath my hand as they slowly tangled with mine. I silently let out the breath I hadn't known I was holding.

 

Scarlet met scarlet. “I hate him.”

 

I smiled sadly, half distracted on our hands as I tried to repress the heat under my skin, itching to break free and burn . “I know. But he's my friend. And I love you, Katsuki. But you can't treat him this way. It's not right .”

 

“He's going to drag you down, Kaga.” God, Katsuki looked exhausted.

 

“Because he's Quirkless?” my twin shot me a ‘no shit' glare but I soldiered on before he could get a word in. “You know, Quirks have been around less than a century.” Katsuki's glare only deepened, evidently not enjoying my impromptu history lesson. “Do you really think there weren't any ‘Heroes’ before then?”

 

Katsuki didn't answer.

 

“Just something to think about.” My head rolled back on my shoulders as I smiled secretly at the ceiling.

 

We were silent for a long time. I was surprised that we'd yet to devolve to a spitting cat fight but, honestly, that expectation only made me sad. Katsuki and I never used to fight so much. When we were small we were so close, everyone mistook us for identicals because of my pixie cut and our near-telepathic brainwaves.

 

Then Izuku had been ‘diagnosed’ Quirkless, Katsuki never came down from his initial power-rush and it had all gone to shit.

 

“Do you think I'm weak?”

 

Katsuki's fingers flexed violently around mine and I had to focus all of my attention on not bursting into flames.

 

“You're my fucking sister, idiot. I might be the best but you promised to keep up-”

 

That's not an answer.” I set my jaw, staring flatly at the ceiling. “Am. I. Weak?”

 

Katsu's bedside clock ticked loudly.

 

“No.”

 

“Even though I couldn't help you?”

 

Suddenly, the hand clasping mine yanked my arm violently and I found myself being roughly pulled underneath the covers, squashed in next to my brother. Who was gnashing his teeth like a wolf, raring for a fight? “Of fucking course not! You burned that wood-fucker and-”

 

I smirked into the duvet, eyes flicking to meet my twin's as he froze in realisation. “Like you, then?”

 

Inwardly, I was flabbergasted that he wasn't insisting that my helplessness showed how superior he was. Maybe it was because he’d accepted me as his equal for so long, that an admittance of my failings was akin to acknowledging his own . Maybe I'd just influenced him with my philosophy.

 

Maybe he just cared.

 

“Being attacked doesn't take away from your strength. You- we're not even Hero Students yet, let alone Pros.”

 

Katsuki didn't answer but his hand was still in mine, the length of his leg warm where it was pressed against my own and I could only hope my words penetrated that stupidly thick skull of his.

 

“You're so angry. You say things…” A heaving sigh expanded my ribs and puffed out my cheeks. I...I didn't know how to say it, put it into words without losing him. But, if I didn't and he continued...he'd lose me . “No-one, no-one Katsu, deserves to be beaten and threatened. Not you, not Izuku, not our folks. Not anyone.”

 

My brother’s mouth twisted into a sullen grimace and I wondered if he was going to call me out.

 

“Whatever, loser. You chat some serious shit, Kagami.”

 

I blinked once, twice, and my lips parted in surprise. That was almost an acknowledgement.

 

“Are you going to leave Izuku alone?”

 

My brother rolled until he was facing me, chin near my forehead.

 

“You're not going to fucking listen are you?”

 

I huffed a breath, like breathing out a chuckle. “Neither are you.”

 

We were both so resigned…

 

“I don't like it.” Success sang, heady and giddy, through my veins. That was as close to an agreement from Katsuki as ever I'd heard.

 

I licked my lips, flexing our entwined fingers as I felt heat spark dangerously between our palms. “Wanna Quirk-train together? Tomorrow?”

 

I woke up the next morning to find our legs entwined together, Katsuki's fingers blistering angrily and his drool on my forehead. Urgh.

 

……………………………………………………….



Summer holidays had started and Katsuki and I had never been more productive.

 

The attack had been plastered all over the news, students and teachers alike flocking to gawk and fawn over my brother in the last few days of the term. It was really fucking pissing me off.

 

“Alright, that's enough!” I’d growled, shoving over to stand shoulder to shoulder with Katsuki. Who was just as annoyed. False or undeserved praise was infinitely worse than none in his books. We must've been quite the sight, platinum hair an explosion of spikes (even if mine were half-tamed with a side parting, the smaller section braided around behind my multi-studded ear). Our eyes were the same Ruby red, foreboding scowls plastered over our eerily similar faces.

 

Naturally, my rep had sent everyone scurrying back. Fuck yeah, you better run.

 

Izuku had been quiet in the back, exhausted but on edge as whispers spread about his involvement. My own little loss of control, setting alight such a popular new Hero and running around like a flaming coal from the furnace...well. No-one but my family and Izuku had come within a couple of feet of me if they could help it. But we'd only had a few more days left and I’d spent most of them brooding silently, either stood as a united front with Katsu or hooked arms in the corner with Izu-kun.

 

Then, school broke up.

 

And Katsuki and I hit the gym.

 

“Weight training?” Katsuki grunted as I had him take the bar for a second. It wasn't the best call for kids our age but...Kamui Woods had been so strong , even though he was only just coming out of that gawky-early-20’s stage men tended to go through. Like a final growing sprint on the tail end of puberty. But, anyway. I wanted to get stronger. My Quirk was feeling more and more hopeless as the years went on, seemingly more geared towards hurting people than as an instrument to wield. And not everything that could restrain me had a pain tolerance that would force them to let go.

 

“Yup,” I took the bar back and slowly lowered it to my chest. Before, my sister's fiance had been a bodybuilder, something he'd picked up when his degree had fried his brain. They’d been a pretty sporty couple, the type to post-workout selfies and couples yoga videos. It had been a decade and a half. My throat was tight, nevertheless. “I need to build up muscle strength. We've got good- ung ,” I push upwards and repeated the motion for another set. Once done, I popped the bar back into the holder and let go once the catch had clicked. “-good technique, speed and battle awareness. Now, we just need to build power.”

 

It was the magic word, ‘power’, that had Katsuki grinning. Evilly, I might add.

 

“Fucking finally.”

 

I'd found that muscle memory, even in a new body, had lingered longer than actual learned information. From before, I mean. I couldn't remember many names anymore, only faces and blurred voices. I knew key dates from the Revolutions of South America, could probably write an essay about the Weimar Republic off the top of my head. But...that was old knowledge, beat in from stressful exams and still holding true (for the most part) in this life here.

 

I didn't know the names of my old teachers, my favourite book.

 

There was innate knowledge, like how my eldest sibling had loathed spiders. How my mum had loved gardening, how my dad had been bizarrely tech-savvy and obsessed with new gadgets.

 

My own body I remembered most. Long, straight hair, tanned and calloused hands and droopy grey eyes. I'd been tall, an asset at sports and in concert crowds. But, most of all, I'd been strong.

 

I'd had a personal trainer at Uni (most people did, they were part of the membership deal on campus) and reps and workouts scrolled like a mantra through my brain. Like code in a computer, almost. It had been the same with fencing and Karate. I couldn't remember what it was I'd wanted to do for my dissertation but this, this I could recall.

 

It was a crying shame I was about a foot too short and almost a decade too young.

But I could improvise. I would improvise. It was also something of a mental challenge too; I wasn’t just pushing my body but my control. Each drop of sweat, my shirt growing damp and hands growing slick and muscles trembling...every single drop was a possible fire. So, when I pushed at the bar or ran on the treadmill or used any of the machines, half my mind was focused on the task at hand; the other was on repressing my Quirk.

 

And I hadn’t had an incident yet.

 

The staff were helpful, if bewildered. But, we were paying customers and I'd waylayed a great deal of concern when I'd started asking about the different circuits, resistance bands and other stuff I was a surprise with. When I asked about getting a support band, to hold in our spines (we were young and, most of all, bendy ) when we deadlifted, I think the receptionist mentally resigned himself to ridiculously hardcore 14-year-old gym bunnies. Or maybe….Pomeranians were a better comparison, hm?

 

So we hit the gym. And we hit it hard .

 

We hit the weight room three days a week, starting and finishing with some cardio at the very least, and a HIIT workout whenever we had time. I was still fencing and our karate had another tournament coming up in a few weeks. I hoped to skip straight into a banded brown. Katsuki, no doubt, wanted to jump even more so we were equals. If not higher, of course.

 

But we ran ourselves ragged, Katsuki fueled by his ‘weakness’ with the slimy villain. But my concerns were mainly based on my Quirk.

 

I just...I didn't see how this was going to work.

 

I was running out of the house, Papa and Katsuki went for the day on a hike, when I bumped into Auntie Inko as she came up the front steps. Literally.

 

“Ah! Sorry!” I garbled, staggering back up a step with hands held defensively. Inko pretty much mirrored me.

 

“Oh, it's no worry, Kagami-chan,” the sweet woman smiled before her emerald eyes, so like her son's, slowly took in my face. “Are you...alright?”

 

I had little doubt I looked like crap, especially from how she was staring with wide, horrified eyes. Jeez...I’m not the Bride of Chucky, Auntie...

 

“Are you here for tea with Kaa-san?” I smiled, rubbing a hand along my neck and ignoring the flames that licked along the underside of my jaw. That was another new thing. When exercising, I had taken to running without gloves, trying to see if my Quirk would strengthen mid-battle from increased exertion (sweat, basically). All that had happened so far was a skyrocketing increase in holes in my clothes. I'd stopped freaking out though.

 

Well. In a way.

 

“Yes, Kagami-chan,” small hands lifted the cake tin in her arms. “I made a cake and Mitsuki makes the tea, hmm?”

 

A grin stretched my lips. “I think we both know that Kaa-san's drinks are poison broth, Auntie. Papa will replace them behind her back so she doesn't kill you by accident!”

 

Inko giggled gently and her emerald eyes lit up. She hesitated, and I almost asked, but there was suddenly a hand was tugging on my French pigtails and Kaa-san’s smirk was audible from behind me.

 

“Trash talking your own mother, hmm? Cheeky brat~”

 

I shot a wounded glance over my shoulder. Scarlet gleamed in amusement. “I would never speak so slanderously of such a warm, nurturing, badass-”

 

The rest of my poetry was drowned out by a bark of roaring laughter. Kaa-san’s hand slipped from my hair to curve around my shoulders and I was pulled back against her chest as my mother turned to her closest friend.

 

“Come on in, Inko, the brat can join us real women, yeah?”

 

“Oh, er-” I tried to shuffle away but Kaa-san had a ridiculously firm grip on me. Gulp. “I’m actually going out-”

 

The arm around my shoulder suddenly felt a whole lot less friendly. “If you say ‘to train’, I’m gonna take fucking action, Kaga.”

 

I shot mum a frown, brows crumpled and jaw set. “I need to practice with my Quirk, Katsu-”

 

“In. Side.”

 

I went inside.

 

“Now!” Mum threw herself down on the sofa, crossing her legs and stretching her arms along the back like she didn’t have a care in the world. Inko settled herself down next to her with an easy smile.

 

I was pulled to sit between them. Yep, I was officially On Edge™. Fuck .

 

A wordless look (you know, the terrifying kind) was shared between the two mothers and Inko leaned forward, still smiling pleasantly, to cut the cake. Any moment now, they’re going to turn to me and, simultaneously, get that scary anime-twinkle in their eyes…

 

“Kaga, you’ve been running yourself fucking ragged and it’s got to stop,” Kaa-san told me bluntly. Never let it be said my mother beats around the bush. I automatically accepted the slice of cake Auntie offered. “You’ve been working at a ridiculous pace, Kaga, but since you’ve broken up from school-” since Katsuki was almost killed “- it’s become even worse.”

 

My throat was tight and I could do nothing but stare down at my lap. I guess I had been a little busy...

 

“I just...I need to get stronger and I don’t have much time and…” I floundered. Small fingers entered my line of vision as they rested on my knee and Auntie started speaking this time.

 

“Until what, Kagami-chan?”

 

“...The...the entrance exam for UA..”

 

Mum shifted until her thigh was pressed against mine. Even through the latex of my suit, I could feel the warmth. After all this time, I'd come to appreciate it, even if it wasn't the same as skin-on-skin.

 

Gentle fingers started fiddling with my French braids again. Sometimes I marvelled at how different she was from my hazy memories of the manga translations. And I’d never been more grateful.

 

“So you’ve decided to fucking run yourself into, what? The fucking ground first?”

 

“No!” I jerked my chin back, defensive. “It's just that my Quirk isn't, well, enough and I'm trying to make up for it.”

 

Kaa-san took a gulp of tea. “You think you'd be useless against some liquid fucker, like that slimy bastard, if you had to fight ‘em.”

 

“I wouldn't get a spark off them,” I pointed out.

 

“Your Quirk won't work on everything. That's a fact of life, kid. You and your bratty brother are both fire-based. Well, Kaga, you'll both be screwed against someone with anything to do with the other elements, let alone all the other shit people can do.”

 

Well...shit. I'd… I'd been so focused on not falling behind my boys, I'd almost obsessed over being able to combat every possibility thrown my way.

 

But that didn't change the fact I couldn't fight those robots. I couldn't learn, couldn't stay with the boys if I didn't do that.

 

“I promise I'll be better...I promise . But,” I glanced desperately between the two women. “There's a practical exam for UA and I have the most horrible thought it's going to be either matches or a some kind of fight. Probably against electronics?”

 

“You've thought real fucking hard about this, hm?”

 

I rolled my eyes, taking a huge mouthful of cake. Damn . Chocolate. It was gorgeous. I swallowed my piece.

 

“I kinda have to, Kaa-san.”

 

“Well, not today,” Inko nodded, pouring both herself and mum another cup of tea. I'd yet to even touch my first. “It's important to have rest days,” I opened my mouth. “Switching activities doesn't count, Kagami-chan.”

 

“So….what are we going to do today, then?” I asked, sipping my warm tea.

 

Kaa-san reclined back again, another amused smirk twisting her lips. At this rate, it was a wonder the expression wasn't permanent.

 

Nothing.”

 

I almost broke a sweat. “.... nothing ?”

 

Inko pressed another slice on cake into my hands. “I believe that's the definition of ‘lazy day’, Kagami-chan.”



………………………………………………………..

 

The following Saturday, three days after my forced relaxation by two mother hens and just over two weeks since school ended, I was back in fencing class.

 

Well. Technically, the lesson was over, the boys packing up and leaving. Miharu waved at me when he left. He was a nice boy so I smiled back.

 

Even though I was internally stressing. I swear to fucking god, I'd never been a worrywart before. Well. Maybe a touch, just about getting an apartment and student debt, exams and stuff.

 

Here? Jeez, I was lucky my hair was so pale, people might not notice the stress-induced white when it inevitably comes calling!

 

“Bakugou-chan,” Sensei came over, his foil tucked under one arm with the guard on. “Class is over, should you not be going home?”

 

I rose from my lunge and poked the Gymnastics mat beneath me with my blade. “Can I ask you something, sensei?”

 

The older man barely blinked. “Yes?”

 

“I'm applying for UA, the Hero course.” I met his eyes out of the corner of my own. “I don't think my fencing is going to go down well in a real fight.”

 

“Are you worried about weaponry, etiquette or something else?”

 

That's why I liked Ichiro-sensei. He was so... no-nonsense . “All of them, to be honest,” I admitted, gesturing to my blade. “The foil isn't useful in a fight like that. My rules will be thrown out of the window. I mean, it's not like there will be a unanimous agreement to start and stop a solo match or a point system..”

 

Sensei tilted his head back towards the equipment rack and I followed, walking by his side. “Have you considered other forms of ‘swordplay’? Learning a second style and then combining them may help.”

 

I grumbled something pretty incomprehensible but sensei seemed to understand.

 

“If you don't want to leave, maybe I might be able to help. I am not familiar with many disciplines other than fencing, Bakugou-chan. However, if we were to both ‘do our research’, as they say, I may be able to guide you in a new style. Working on loosening up manoeuvrability and form. I cannot get you a new blade, though.”

 

I couldn't repress my hopeful smile. “If I get into UA, my Hero costume is made by a professional team. But they expect us to submit design ideas that they can work from. If we drafted a sword…”

 

“-They would make it for you.” Sensei finished. “That will do nicely, Bakugou-chan. Now,” he clapped his gloved hands together and rubbed them. At this point, I was half expecting a spark. Dad and my own powers were really making me trip now. “Next lesson, we'll stay behind an extra 30 minutes. I'll do some research into where your style might need to go, yes? Excellent. Until next lesson, Bakugou-chan.”

 

I blinked and the brunette was gone. Um...bye?

 

I was home later than normal that night. Thankfully, it was mid-July so the sky was still light, appearing more like a late afternoon than almost eight o'clock.

 

The train wasn't too full but I was sat opposite a baby, carefully cradled in her father's arms. His other two held his newspaper out of the similarly quad-armed little girl, who seemed happily determined to destroy the bottom half.

 

She was adorable and, after 10 minutes of watching her giggle and wiggle, I was pretty bummed out to get off. At least I got to smile at her when I went past. Her eyes were newborn blue, clear as the sky. Precious.

 

We'd had dinner before I'd left and I knew Katsuki had been out too, taking back the drum kit he'd borrowed from a college student in the same apartment block as Izuku. Apparently, the guy's parents didn't know he played the drums and didn't like them much to begin with. In return to keeping them safe whilst his folks were up, Katsuki was allowed to play them.

 

Almost two months. God, his parents sure lingered. Before , I think my parents barely visited me at university for any longer than a few hours. We’d never really called too much either, confident that we'd go about our lives with little fuss or disruption.

 

Well . Ahem. Hindsight, and all that, you know.

 

Some things were set in stone. One, because they were impossible to change now. And two, because they would never leave you.

 

When I left home this time, I swore to myself I'd always end the phone call with ‘I love you’, no matter how brief. Take it from someone who'd died. The regret was never worth it.

 

“I'm home!” I called, closing the door behind me and toeing off my trainers.

 

“Welcome back!” Papa replied, his voice echoing from the kitchen and I passed through to find him making coffee.

 

I smiled as soon as I spotted his messy hair, wondering what design he was stressing over this time. When I huffed a near-silent laugh, the rich smell of the coffee pot had me reaching for another mug. “Ooh, I'll have a cup,” I grinned, placing the cup on the counter by dad's elbow and turning to rifle through the freezer. We had ice-cream, right?

 

“Coffee, what?” Papa held the decanter aloft.

 

I glanced over, pulling back from my fridge-rummaging to raise an eyebrow. “Please, Papa.”

 

The bespectacled man blinked happily. “Here you are,” and added a generous dash of milk.

 

I reached over to snag the handle and took a deep draught. The uncomfortable heat didn't even make me bat an eyelash. But, it tasted more bitter than usual. “Is this,” I peered at the steaming liquid, “caffeinated?”

 

Dad clapped his hands together with a smack, unsettlingly loud in the quiet kitchen. “Some designs are taking longer than usual is all, Spitfire.”

 

I bit my lip on a tiny smile and pointed a finger at his hair. “Your hair is crazy; I thought it might be something like that. What's wrong?”

 

“I haven't received the go-ahead for some of the materials, so getting it done is slow going,” He placated before smoothly jumping topics. “How was the class, you're home a little later than normal?”

 

I leaned on the counter next to my dad and shrugged a shoulder. “I stayed behind a bit to talk to Ichiro-sensei. We're gonna work on a new fighting style instead of the correct fencing one. It should be better for Hero work but sensei and I are gonna have to make it up as we go.”

 

Dad's expression brightened. “You're going to use a proper sword when you fight? What kind?”

 

My cup was set down of the counter with a dull ‘ thump ’.

 

“A huge claymore, of course! Taller than me, all the villains will wet themselves as soon as they catch the light glinting dangerously off the edge-”

 

“I call bullshit,” Katsuki drawled from the doorway.

 

You're bullshit!” was my incredible response. Katsuki narrowed his eyes. I stuck out my tongue.

 

“We’re training your shitty Quirk tomorrow,” he rolled his eyes. “Beach at 6.”

 

Shit. Izuku was training there with All Might if I remembered correctly. “We should go somewhere with better coverage,” I argued. “We aren't supposed to use our Quirks so casually in public and I'm not sure what's going to happen.”

 

My twin stared at me like he was trying to see straight into my brain. “That didn't fucking happen last time, Kaga.”

 

Oh. Hmm...the day after Katsuki and I’d had our 2 am talk, we'd had a spar with Quirks.

 

In the back garden.

 

Okay. Okay . We were stupid, irresponsible brats!

 

Regardless, nothing had burned to the ground (although the grass, yellow from the relentless sun, had damn-well tried more than a few times) and Katsuki had walked away without a top. His arms had been an angry red for days, the most durable part of his body towards fire - because of his own Quirk - and painful blisters everywhere else. There had been a few burns but Katsuki had always been a fast healer when it came to stuff that was fire-related.

 

I'd walked away with a good number of bruises. No burns but a lot of smoke dust. You could actually see where some over the more violent explosions had gone off against my skin, scorch marks like stars that had only felt like a very strong punch. Katsuki had been, once again, that very bizarre mixture of annoyed and pleased.

 

But, this time, I wanted to work on expanding upon my Quirks uses. I'd tried for years with Izuku and Papa. Maybe my brother, ‘ King Explodo-kills’ (what a fucking dork) himself, could help me increase my damage-factor.

 

“There's piles of fucking garbage everywhere, Kaga. No-one bothers me when I train and they won't fucking bother you.”

 

Except the fact Izuku is training there!

 

“Listen, Katsuki,” I tried to swing the guilt-trip angle. “I don't feel all that comfortable-”

 

Unfortunately, that never works. “Tough fucking shit, Kaga. Up at 6 or I'll drag you out.”

 

And, with that, Katsuki stomped upstairs.

 

Crap.

 

At 6 am, just as promised, I felt my ankles grabbed in a vice-like grip. Being half asleep at the time, after tossing and turning wondering about how I was going to avoid the inevitable explosion, I only had a second’s warning.

 

Ahhh !” my shriek was piercing and far, far too loud in the early morning as Katsuki threw me over his shoulder like a particularly vicious firefighter.

 

Our parents - cough , Kaa-san, cough - yelled at us to keep the racket down but otherwise stayed in bed. Whilst their eldest was being kidnapped, slung around like a sack of flour. Jeez, thanks, guys.

 

Head dangling weirdly close to Katsu's ass, I twisted my neck to look where we were going and promptly started kicking up a storm.

 

“Put me down! I need to get dressed!” Katsuki, the dick, ignored me as we started on down the stairs. “I'm not wearing a bra , let alone a sports one, and I need shoes and the toilet -”

 

I kicked Katsuki in the chest. He almost let me fall on my face. “Urgh! I swear to fucking god, I'll burn all your All Might-”

 

I just about got my hands in front of me to catch myself when my brother dropped me. Whipping around to glare at him, I bared my teeth in a snarl. “Give me five fucking minutes then we'll have a race. When we get there, I'll bury you!”

 

Katsuki grinned, more of a teeth-baring expression than anything, and snapped them at me. “Fucking bring it, Kaga.”

 

Not in the house, guys!”

 

Rolling our eyes as one, Katsuki and I shared a glance before I remembered I was supposed to be mad and turned, stomping back upstairs.

 

I dressed in a dark navy cyclist suit, the arms stopping just above my elbow and the legs cutting off at mid-thigh. Sports socks and my running shoes, my hair just about going back into a little ponytail at my nape. I briefly debated take out my earrings, all four of them, before deciding against it. Katsuki wasn't going to be tearing them out or anything. And I hadn't seen my brother without his own tiny loops since we'd had them done together. That tsundere idiot probably thought of them like matching tattoos or friendship bracelets.

 

I put in red and amber studs, the sets Katsuki at shoved at me after I'd paid for us to get our piercings themselves.

 

Last on were my fingerless gloves, again from the cycling shop. I'd started wearing them recently because my fingers were still freed to practice control and snapping a spark ( á la Colonel Mustang !) but my palm, the sweatiest part, was still protected.

 

Katsuki was impatiently waiting on the front step by the time I came out, pulling the door behind me. The run was mildly tortuous, the summer heat now in full swing and I was suffering. Like a pig for slaughter, I tell ‘ya.

 

It wasn't until the neighbourhoods started falling away that I realised I'd been fucking had.

 

“Katsuki!” I called, a couple of meters behind my taller (and, therefore, longer-legged) twin. “We were supposed to find a warehouse or junkyard!”

 

“What the fuck do you think that is?!” Katsu shouted back, jerking an expansive hand towards the towers of abandoned garbage that spread from horizon to horizon.

 

Touchè .

 

I just about managed to click my tongue, awkward as I breathed heavily from the exercise. “And didn't I fucking say I didn't want to come here?!”

 

“We're fucking here so too fucking late, Kaga.”

 

Katsuki slowed to a stop and started heading towards the sand. I stopped and ripped off my right shoe.

 

It bounced satisfyingly off the back of his stupid head.

 

Short, platinum spikes went flying when my brother snapped his neck around, staring at me as if he couldn't believe I'd actually done that.

 

Then he flipped his shit.

 

“What the fuck was that for?! You wanted to train and now you're being an ass-!”

 

Katsuki had stomped back to loom over me, his eyes furrowed like the devil's and his teeth bared like an animal. What actually pissed me off was how close he shoved his face, using his taller height to try and get me to back up.

 

Naturally, I rose to the challenge.

 

“I said no! We're going somewhere else!”

 

My hands, bared fingertips sparking his shirt like a match, pressed against Katsuki's chest and I shoved him back, hard. He staggered a few steps and I was viciously glad that, whilst Katsuki had the better Quirk, I was head and shoulders above him physically.

 

I was almost tempted to turn and run because then Katsuki would definitely chase me. We'd get into a bad fight, both verbal and physical, but at least we'd be far from Izuku and Toshinori.

 

The decision was taken out of my hands when Katsuki aimed a vicious sidekick at my ribs.

 

Forearm swinging down to automatically intercept, I jumped back a few feet when Katsuki barely even waited for me to recover before he threw a punch. He didn't actually want to beat me up but, rather, I could sense him trying to herd me towards the beachfront again. Bastard is making me train here.

 

“What? You scared Kagami?!”

 

I wasn’t going to fall for-

 

“Heh,” my twin smirked, eyes wide with the thrill of the fight as he followed my slowly backing-up figure. “Little girl-”

 

Oh, no he fucking didn't.

 

My palms smacked into the floor as I bent to throw both legs in a merciless sweep, my left catching Katsuki's feet from under him and my right catching his knees.

 

He went down with a satisfying ‘thud ’.

 

Unfortunately, Katsuki was nothing if not relentless and I'd scarcely righted myself before the stubborn jackass was barrelling into me like an American Footballer. Shit , so much for karate!

 

Arms looped around my waist as all strategy fled and I ended up clawing at his hands as, with a frantic kind of speed, Katsuki ran to the beach steps.

 

I kicked him in the groin before his descent could begin.

 

Dropped unceremoniously, I was bloody lucky the dick didn't throw me down the concrete steps, rather landing on my arse on the pavement instead. Katsuki staggered above me, hands protectively cupping his junk as he wheezed through the pain.

 

Before he could recover, I slipped down the stairs and took off at a run, not feeling even a smidgen of guilt. Asshole got what he deserved- how could he?!

 

“KAGAMI!”

 

“Shit!” I panted, hearing my explosive twin just straight up jump the stairs and start after me across the sand.

 

Great skyscrapers of rubbish, everything imaginable from drinks cans to rusted cars, loomed over us as I weaved between the piles, Katsuki slowly shortening my lead.

 

I slowed only slightly when convenient piles could be yanked behind me, hands desperately clawing until (well, stuff I'd rather not think about touching, the mould -) junk crashed down behind me and I could hear my brother's vicious swears and occasional explosions as he fought to not let me get away.

 

The adrenaline of the fight slowly seeped away as, when Katsuki tripped over the edge of a fridge, I found myself giggling instead.

 

The beach was long and there were more than a few close calls for my capture as we wove between the piles and our trainers sunk into areas of looser sand and-

 

My palms were sticky with sweat and my gloves caught fire on a spark when I jumped over the edge of an overturned skip and-

 

A rope, knotted in some old fishing nets, lay on the ground as I came staggering around the next bend and, without truly thinking, I reached down and snagged it.

 

The fibres caught fire with an ease that was equal parts terrifying and intoxicating. My fire always had proved hotter than normal, easier spreading and longer lasting than it should have any right to be.

 

The heat washed over my face and I could only imagine how my features were lit up in the angry, scarlet light. Within seconds, the entire length of rope was burning furiously and the netting was soon alight.

 

All of this was the work of 10 seconds and then Katsuki was rounding the corner, hands behind him to blast him forwards and mouth open in a snarl (I wasn't fooled, he'd laughed when I'd tripped on an abandoned oar).

 

I ducked his first punch, swung like a wild haymaker, and threw myself to the side, yanking on the flaming rope with all of my body weight.

 

Katsuki came for me again, cackling like a madman, and I yanked even harder on the line.

 

The netting, now raging like a bonfire, came down on me, the oilcan it was wrapped around tumbling in its wake to crash a foot from my head.

 

Fuck-

 

We were so fucking stupid.

 

And we weren't stopping.

 

Oil spilt out of the canister, murky and reduced to a sticky tar in the relentless sun but staining the sand and filling my nostrils with its sharp stink. The fire licked at the oil-soaked sand, which probably should have stifled the flames but, god-

 

The can exploded and, suddenly, I was wreathed in flame.

 

Katsuki stood opposite me, panting hard and hands limp by his sides. His hair was pink from the fire-glow, eyes pin-pricked against the crimson light.

 

“Kaga!”

 

I screamed.

 

On the sand, I stared down at my hands, watching as the fire licked my skin before, once all sweat had been used, snuffling itself out. I...I only felt warm. Like a hot bath or hours in the sun. My skin, underneath and in my blood, tingling like the faintest pins and needles.

 

But that didn’t prevent my fear.

 

There was no pain. I wasn’t being burned alive or anything but, god, this was every nightmare come to life and I turned frantic eyes on my brother, my expression no doubt begging for comfort or guidance or something .

 

Katsuki, no matter how horrible and angry he could be, did not disappoint.

 

Handfuls of sand were tossed over my shoulders and hunched back, those same hands rubbing the grit into my flaming jumpsuit until the flames were dying.

 

“Katsu-” There was no doubt he hadn’t burned himself but-

 

“Shut up…” His voice sounded just above me, distracted as he swept his eyes over my hunched form and made sure I was completely extinguished. Behind us, the oil can and netting still burned like an out-of-control campfire.

 

Thankfully, the sand and my brother did its job; the oil hadn't hit me so it didn't take long for my sweat glands, overworked just like Katsuki's were, to wear themselves out and I was left blackened with smoke but completely intact.

 

My hands were shaking violently, suddenly unbearably cold as the immersive heat vanished and Katsuki slowly crouched down beside me.

 

Until I realised something.

 

“Fuck! Katsuki-” I yelped, throwing myself forwards (away from the flaming ropes behind me) and curling up in a ball in the sand. “Give me your bloody top!?!”

 

My brother, sat back on his haunches when I moved violently forwards, blinked stupidly for one long second.

 

Unfortunately, that's all the time that was needed before my crappy luck made itself known again.

 

“Hey! What's going on!?”

 

Fuck my fucking, fuck, fuck life!

 

“Katsuki. Top. Now .”

 

A bundle of fabric, hastily pulled off, was dropped on my head and I wasted exactly zero time pulling it on.

 

“For fuck's sake, Kagami,” my brother growled as soon as I started scrambling upright and then familiar hands were wrapping around my arms and my face was pressed into my twin's chest as we stood up together.

 

Absently, I did a mental U-turn and thanked God that my brother was so much taller. Otherwise, my junk would definitely be on show. It was bad enough the shirt only reached my thighs as it was-

 

“What's- What's going on here!?” voices sounded even closer and Katsuki pressed me even harder into him. For once, I went along with it.

 

The reason?

 

Remember when I pushed Katsuki super hard earlier? I burned handprints into his top.

 

Guess where those holes were on me?

 

I could only be thankful that this was Katsuki and we'd only stopped sharing baths when we'd hit double digits. Ergo, dots of skin against skin wasn't as weird as it could have been but I think we were both going to take precautions in layers from this point on.

 

Thoughts of my fire, which still burned behind me, and of being set alight like a hot coal flashed through my mind and I found myself huddled further under my brother's arm. One of his hands was pressed between my shoulder blades, the other pointed accusingly at the poor civilians who'd come running in concern. I was just glad that, despite everything, my luck hadn’t been shit enough that Toshinori and Izuku were part of the group.

 

“Pfft, ‘no-one will fucking bother us’ indeed -”

 

“Shut the fuck up, Kaga-”

 

A middle-aged man, who looked pretty nondescript, stepping closer and eyed the pair of us. “We saw a fire, what’s happened?”

 

“It doesn’t fucking matter and it has nothing to fucking do with you-”

 

Okay, so no more letting Katsuki take charge. From now on, he’s the second fiddle.

 

“Oh- kay !” I twisted in my brother’s arms (just my head and shoulders, no need to flash tit to 30 years+ strangers) and plastered on the fakest customer-service smile I could manage. “There was an accident involving an oil can, no injuries or damages so there’s really no reason-”

 

“Hey!” A young woman, dressed like another beachside jogger, crouched to point at the tattered ruins of my jumpsuit. Which was, incriminatingly, little more than charred scraps. “Did some-” She finally seemed to register my, er, outfit and her dark eyes nearly popped out of her head, “-were you burned?!”

 

I was really starting to fucking hate the interruptions, thanks.

 

“My Quirk makes me fire-proof so no worries, Katsuki lets go right now, bye!” I babbled before jerking my head in the direction of the road, and therefore home. Katsuki, thankfully, was as good at Twin-Speak as ever (even if most the time he obnoxiously ignored it all) and took off at a fast run. I’ll admit to being a bit of a dead weight, still clasped to his chest and not even helping by holding on. My hands, thank you very fucking much, were pretty occupied with holding down the aggravatingly short hem of the borrowed T-shirt. Lest I become a flasher to the oncoming traffic.

 

And that baby-stroller and mum we passed on our street. Yeah, hard pass.

 

“We’re home!” I called helpfully as Katsuki just continued barrelling inside, barely giving me time to fish out his key and open the damned door before dashing up the stairs and into my room.

 

“Okay, Kaga,” he dumped me on my bed and spun around immediately. Considering the fact my pants and bra hadn’t been spared, I was feeling pretty nice to him. “What the fuck was that?”

 

“The fire?” I asked innocently, bent over and balanced on one foot as I slipped on a fresh pair of underwear. “My hands were sweaty from the run so the rope caught fire and then the netting caught fire and, well, you saw…”

 

I could almost hear his teeth grind. “I meant ‘why the fuck were you so opposed to the beach?’ and you know it!”

 

Remembering how endearingly protective he’d just been - an asshole would’ve laughed or taken a photo or just fucking left me - I decided to take pity. Take pity, not tell the truth, of course.

 

“Did you miss the commotion my little bonfire brought?” I quirked a brow, doing up my bra with a ‘snap’ and snagging another jumpsuit, zipper to the back, from my dresser. “Do me up, will ya?”

 

Rolling his eyes, Katsuki slumped around and obligingly jerked up the zipper and pulled my loose hair (again, bobble lost in the inferno) out of the way. Affection curled in my belly, as it always did when my loser twin did something small like this. Why was I mad at him again?

 

“You couldn’t have fucking predicted that, Kagami...you were just being a fucking pussy.”

 

Ah. That’s why.

 

I decided that distractions would only save me now.

 

“Well, I’m sorry but you weren’t the one naked on a beach where anyone could’ve seen you! Cameras, those older men, perverts-!”

 

My brother’s fingers - automatically pulling my hair into a low ponytail because, yes , the childhood conditioning was working - twitched violently and a small explosion saw the death of yet another hair tie. I couldn’t afford to lose them at this rate~

 

“What?!”

 

“Well!” I ducked under his frozen arms in a move that was so quick I felt dizzy and threw myself out the door. “I need to tell Papa about the explosion!”

 

I made it halfway down the stairs.

 

“What the shit? What fucking perverts, Kagami?! Get back here and fucking te-!”

 

My knuckles rapped frantically on my dad’s office door and, as soon as the poor man opened it, I was lunging inside and slamming the abused door closed. There were thunderous footsteps on the stairs and I waited for the inevitable explosion on the door against my spine.

 

Apparently there was a god (for surely it was the fucking asshole-devil who sent me here) because, before my twin could even make it through the kitchen, Kaa-san descended upon him like an angel of mercy (for my brother, more like an angel of death) and started going on about consideration to the neighbours and how the two of us were hooligans of the highest order, yadda yadda.

 

“Well, Kaga-chan?” Dad smiled down at me weakly, his hand still on the door handle and, therefore, unfortunately, squished behind me. Quite painfully too, I’d imagine.

 

“Ah...sorry, Papa…” I peeled myself from my defensive lean, to reinforce the wood as much as possible, and shuffled further inside the comfortable room my dad used to work from home. I called it an office but it honestly looked more like a mixture of studio and living room. A long, toffee-coloured sofa running along the back wall (Katsu and I had been forbidden from so much as touching it when we were younger, lest it be destroyed like countless others we’d ruined) with a well-lit desk taking up the majority of the space and a low coffee table squeezed in. “I actually wanted to talk to you…”

 

A gentle hand settled on the back of my head and pulled my forehead to rest against my dad’s shoulder. He smelled of fresh cotton and pencils, same as always.

 

“Coffee?”

 

An expansive hand gestured to the pot in question and I couldn't contain the smile that crept across my face.

 

“Is there anything left for me? Kaa-san will kill you if she finds you you've been having extra; caffeine isn't good for the heart, ya know?”

 

Papa playfully pushed me down onto the sofa whilst he sorted out our mugs. “None of your usual tangents, Spitfire,” he softly scolded me, as mild as ever. “What's going on?”

 

Resigned, I blew out my cheeks. “Katsuki made good on his word.”

 

A gentle chuckle caught in the older brunette’s throat. “The racket this morning?”

 

I hummed my confirmation and accepted the offered mug with a smile. “Dick-” (“Kagami.”) “- idiot took us to the beach, even though I said I wanted somewhere less public!”

 

Masaru took a generous gulp of his own mug before plopping back down into his desk chair and, leaning one forearm on the armrest, turning towards me. Vaguely, it felt a bit like a very casual shrink appointment. Minus the uncomfortableness and deflecting. “So what did you do?”

 

I blinked as innocently as possible and dad paled. “Threw a shoe at his stupid head, dumped him on his ass and then kicked him in the balls.”

 

The coffee cup was set aside so our father could bury his head in his hands. “Should we expect the police?”

 

I couldn't help it and threw my head back in a bark of obnoxiously loud laughter. “Nah, we ended up playing a very violent game of tag - I won, of course - but something happened.”

 

“You set something on fire, didn't you?” brown eyes peeked at me over his fingers.

 

A delicate frown crumpled my brow. “How did you know ?”

 

Dad leaned back again and downed his coffee in one, long drought. Are you fucking okay?

 

“Besides the fact you're covered in smoke stains?” Oh. “It's you two , your mother and I expect nothing less when you both barge in like elephants…”

 

The sheepish grin that tugged on my cheeks was irrepressible, to say the least. “Er. Oops?”

 

Dads soulful brown eyes started to look worryingly disappointed in that parental way and I hurried on before he could pick up speed. “But! Um, but I wanted to talk about my Quirk, yeah- there was this oil can and it accidentally caught fire and then I was like a bonfire but I wasn't burning! And the fire spread so quickly, quicker than it should've!”

 

Dad gaped for a moment, eyes wide behind his shiny specs before he suddenly grabbed a fresh sheet of paper from the chaos of his desk and started taking notes.

 

The psychiatrist vibes only increased but I wasn't bothered. I was a daddy's girl, anyway. (Masaru was just so cute, okay? But then...kaa-san was really kick ass…Okay, I love both my folks?)

 

“How quickly? Was the rope wet with water or oil, do you think? The netting, plastic or fibre?”

 

I blinked rapidly and tried to cast my mind back. “ Very fast, no more than a few seconds. No, no, it was sun bleached and really dry...I think it was fibre otherwise plastic would've just melted, right?”

 

Papa's pen hovered for a second before he reached to touch the back of my (freshly gloved) hand. The room was small enough that he barely had to stretch, merely twist the computer chair around.

 

“And your fire? What was that like?”

 

Heat licking over my skin, almost like all the human contact I'd missed over the years brought on at once. I could feel my temperature rise, like stepping out into a scorching heat wave, and the flush of my skin and sweat only raged the fire higher-

 

“It was...like a bath. I was warm everywhere but it was almost...comforting. It didn't hurt at all but-” I glanced up from where I'd been fiddling with dad's ink-stained fingers to meet concerned Hazel, “-I was scared. Because I didn't know how to stop it or if it was going to spread along the whole beach, up to the roads and houses and people…”

 

Papa dropped his pen and leaned to squeeze both of mine in his warm hands. “Shhhh~” his warm, familiar voice crooned. I hadn't realised I was shaking until I felt how steady his hands were. “It's okay to be scared, Kaga, because you're here now, it's okay…”

 

My trembles slowly subsided and dad turned back to his sheet. We talked until dinner about how, by setting other materials alight, I could possibly melt or burn plastics (which I couldn't just touch to do).

 

At dinner, Katsuki wouldn't let the conversation die between us, caught between grilling our dad over my Quirk and snapping at me. He broke two sets of chopsticks. Kaa-san was so annoyed she broke her own.

 

But still, I didn't tell them.

 

That I hadn't been shaking from fear or the fire or whatever.

 

It was because I was itching to do it again.

 

……………………………………………………..

 

“Sorry, Kagami-chan, but he's not home right now!”

 

“Oh Kagami-chan, you just missed him! But come on in, I've just made a cake-”

 

“I'm sorr-”

 

“Oh, Kagami-”

 

Where are you?

 

My phone didn't beep until 9 pm. Considering the fact I'd texted at 10 that morning, after another trip to Auntie Inko’s (she'd insisted I stayed and we'd had a nice little tea party with mochi), I was done being nice.

 

Sorry!!! :(( I was out of the house!

 

I know.

 

I had tea with oba-san but I've called and texted you and you weren't replying so what was I supposed to think?

 

I've been trying to see you for ages

 

 

(...)

 

No!!

 

IM REAALY SORRY KAGAMI-CHAN

 

My fingers hovered over the screen for a long minute as Izuku clumsily spammed me with reassurances and I couldn't help but snort slightly at the typos. Izuku only did that when he was nervous.

 

Katsuki was snoring down the hall (old man hit the hay at 9, ha!) and I could hear the low voices of our parents chatting in the living room.

 

I bit my lip. And pressed call .

 

“Izu-kun?”

 

“Kagami-chan, I'm really sorry I've justbeenreallybusyandIdidn’tmeantomakebitseemlikeIdon’tappreciayourfriendshipor-”

 

“Breathe, Izuku,” I quirked my lip sardonically. I knew his reasons but...boy needed better time management skills. “Are you busy tomorrow?”

 

The awkward, stilted silence on the other end was answer enough but Izuku started talking anyway. “Oh, um, actually, Kagami-chan-”

 

“You know,” I interrupted like the impolite but well-meaning friend I was, “I've been to see Auntie Inko most days this holiday. At least in passing. Are you even spending time with Oba-san whilst she's off work and we're on break?” Shit, I sounded so fucking entitled, urgh . “If you're busy, that's totally okay, Izuku-kun. But you can't ignore everything else.”

 

I wasn't just talking about myself, I promise.

 

I just… I hated to think of Inko out of the loop. Her son was being trained for a Quirk, to take over from the Symbol of Peace! Surely… she should be a part of that?

 

The line went quiet for a long moment and I could just imagine the internal self-doubt that was wracking the emerald-haired boy's frame. I myself was stabbed with guilt, like Zabuza’s sword from frickin Naruto , knowing that he was only training with All Might. But...he shouldn't neglect other aspects of his life either!

 

“Go out and meet your friend tomorrow-” a crash on the line and I couldn't help but laugh, “- but we’ll have a sleepover tomorrow night, deal? We never had a proper one for your birthday so we'll go all out!”

 

“Umm, that, er, sounds really nice, Kagami-chan...I’m really sorry about...well...”

 

I smiled sadly into the dark of my bedroom, the summer sunset having only just faded behind the horizon. “Don't worry about it. Just don't...don't do it again. I was worried.”

 

“I-I won't! Are...are you going to bed now?”

 

I glanced at my alarm and, my eyes adjusted to my lightness room, I could see that the simple clock face read a quarter past 10. Katsuki would come barging in at 6 but my parents wouldn't head up to bed until 11, probably…

 

“Not for a while...wanna hear about my run-in with gasoline?”

 

…………………………………………………………

 

“Okay!” I leaned back on my haunches, crouched in front of the Midoriyas’ TV. “I know what you're like, Izu-kun, so the first or second?”  In my hands, I held up The Symbol of Peace and All Might: Dark Forces .

 

I know, I know.

 

The names, I swear to god...so cliche.

 

Walking over to the sofa with an armful of quilts - all All MIght themed, naturally - the green-haired boy dumped his haul before starting to arrange them in the small area, a bit like a nest actually. “The Dark Forces , if that’s okay by you, Kagami-chan? Unless-”

 

Dark Forces it is!”

 

The DVD was popped into the player and Auntie popped her head around the door. “Snacks? Drinks? You two alright?”

 

I threw myself down on the heap on blankets next to Izuku and flashed a grin at my favourite (only) Aunt. “I think we’re good, right, Izuku-kun?”

 

Needless to say, we ate so much we felt sick. And then drank so much fizzy crap ( not alcohol, I wasn’t that bad of an influence) that Izuku started bouncing off the walls like the overactive bunny he really was. Inko had kept meandering through but, when I’d whipped out my (extensive, I loved the shit) makeup bag, she’d sat down the watch Izuku give me a makeover, adding helpful little tips. In the background, the last half an hour of the third All Might film kept playing, unwatched.

 

“Izuku, darling, that’s lipstick- don’t put that on Kagami-chan’s eyes-”

 

Eyes obediently closed, I pressed my lips together to try and hold in my snickers. For a guy who liked painting his nails so much, Izuku was rather adorable when he fumbled.

 

When I was pronounced as ready, I slowly opened my eyes and blinked across at my best friend, who’s golden eyeshadow (courtesy of yours truly) sparkled in the low lighting. I grabbed his hand and dragged the both of us out to the mirror in the hall.

 

“Ah! We look great!”

 

Where Izuku had golden lids - not caked with glitter but more of a creamy, metallic sheen - and subtle winged eyeliner, I had - Well, electric blue, eyeliner gel I’d bought on a whim but never actually got ‘round to trying out, traced my upper lash line in a surprisingly skilled cat eye and made my scarlet irises pop. My lips were painted a bright, matte fire-engine red and I marvelled at how the colours really seemed to suit me. I’d never managed to rock such bright colours before ; I’d been a natural honey blonde, and red just made me look mousy or vaguely green (? I don’t fucking know, it just did ), and blue made my eyes look watery.

 

Okay, so maybe I was being a bit self-critical, but I’d scored really well on the colour-seeing tests so, obviously, I wasn’t completely wrong.

 

But, here? With my platinum hair and scarlet eyes?

 

Fuck, I rocked it!

 

Grinning madly at Izuku in the mirror, with bright makeup and rainbow nails (matching Auntie Inko and Izuku), I laughed joyously.

 

All in all, it had been a roaring hit of a night.

 

The next morning, I woke up to the smell of a hot breakfast, Izuku’s foot in my spine, and dried drool all down my chin.

 

After that, Izuku was back to his frantic One For All training with Toshinori but, this time, he made sure to get home in time for dinner with his mum and texted me most days, even for a brief chat. I was...glad. Because neither Izuku or myself had many friends and...all that training with All Might...not only must the stress be horrible, but Izuku was a boy constantly wracked with self-doubt and issues of self-worth and identity. I didn’t want him to become so absorbed in his work with Toshinori, that he became isolated.

 

Not to mention, it was just Inko and him, in that little flat. I didn’t want their relationship to suffer too; bad enough that Toshinori hadn’t, as far as I was aware, asked Inko for permission before choosing her son as his successor but, if Izuku felt that he couldn't involve her in his life like that, she'd definitely be able to tell.

 

I mean, I wasn't Katsuki's mother or anything but I’d developed a Sixth Sense for the little Bastard. Sure, it worked wonky regarding his clashes with Izuku, but I generally knew when he was acting out. Exploding shit. Being a dick. Going into my room. Yadda, yadda.

 

And, as for the asshole himself?

 

“What the fuck is on your nails?”

 

Honestly, it's like he'd never seen nail polish before. Which I wore. Religiously. So I knew he was just getting at something. Oooh, someone jealous ?

 

Thankfully, my spidey senses were still fully functioning, thank you very much, and I'd anticipated this.

 

I whipped out a bottle of gleaming, scarlet lacquer. And a handful of manicure tools.

 

“Jealous, Katsu?”

 

The real skill of mine, talent show worthy in all honesty, wasn't my ability to shape and paint nails like a Pro. It was that I could do that whilst lying on top of my brother's arm, pinning him to the floor whilst I did that and then holding him long enough for the shiny red to dry properly.

 

And, before you get pissy, I'd tossed a bottle of remover over my shoulder as I skedaddled the fuck outta there. There . He could take it off if he was really so angry.

 

He didn't.

 

In actual fact, when he inevitably chipped them, he plonked himself down next to me, where I was watching a disgustingly-addictive Korean Drama (Jae-sun had just told his Ex, Ha-eun, that he was moving in with his new lover), and demanded I fixed my “shitty work”. Apparently, if I was going to do something, I had to take responsibility.

 

Smothering my amused chuckles, I'd turned away from Ha-eun’s tearful confession and set about fixing them.

 

Hey, makeup is genderless after all.

 

Kaa-san, for her part, had been a bit torn on the issue. On one hand...Katsuki with red nails did look pretty badass (in her words, “like a delinquent”) but, on the other…

 

Kaa-san and Papa were into fashion designing. And, more often than not, they liked to experiment on their kids with the cooler styles. For me, I’d long since stopped wearing bodysuits from the sports shop, my parents having pulled some strings to get me some more durable ones. They weren't Hero-issue, those were strictly monitored, but they were much more breathable whilst being less combustible too. Not to mention, they looked fucking BAMF. My clothes on top were pretty sweet too.

 

Katsuki generally got super nice jeans, high-end sports gear for the gym and stuff, and really nice leather accessories. His belts were from Italy and his famous (cough, notorious, cough) loafers were expensive too.

 

The red nails might've clashed a bit, but our folks couldn't deny that they actually looked really cool. You're welcome ~

 

Oh. Hmm.

 

Speaking of clothes…

 

In the last week of our holiday (now a brown belt - Katsuki was a vengeful red - with minute and hesitant headway on the fencing front), I’d sat down with my art pad and decided I may as well give it a shot.

 

Four hours - four fucking hours - later, paper discarded around me, I decided that only professional advice could save me.

 

“Mama! Papa!”

 

I burst into the office with an obnoxious ‘bang’ to find they both sat cosily on the sofa, hands on each other’s knees and looking very cosy. Cosily.

 

“Urgh,” I felt it was my place as a teen to protest, “get a room !”

 

Dad went tomato red and shuffled awkwardly whilst Kaa-san was completely unphased. “We had one, brat, before you barged in!”

 

“Well, I'll go if you want and just frolic around naked!”

 

My mum once more proved herself to be, if anything, my equal.

 

“Give us warning so we know when to expect the police for public indecency~”

 

Rolling my eyes, I pulled the artpad from under my arm and showed my mum. “Let's not jump to conclusions just yet. I need help with designing my Hero suit.” Perking up, dad took the sketchbook and started flicking through. “Apparently, when you submit your application to the UA Hero course, you also give them an idea for your costume. So that they can have it ready for term time.”

 

Dad nodded absentmindedly, plucking the pencil from behind his ear (I, annoyingly, could never balance it for that) and scratched out a few ideas.

 

I helped myself to the desk chair and just...kept ongoing.

 

“I need to be able to set stuff on fire, so maybe collecting sweat or exposing my skin? But then, how will I protect myself in a fight with no armour or safety sh-” Kaa-san, rather hypocritically, sent me a quelling look, “- stuff ? Just like how it would be great to have anywhere someone could grab me - like my arms or neck or middle - bare so the fire will make them let go! But, again, I need protection!”

 

“Not to mention the pervs out there,” Mum bluntly reminded me. “More than a few young Heroes have been crowd favourites just over the amount of skin on show. Just look at Mt. Lady!” Kaa-san growled, defensive and always over her favourite Rookie. “She's openly lesbian but men still hit on her like she's a cut of meat at the butcher's!”

 

Kaa-san - and I - were rightfully furious at the creepiness of it all. Couldn't Heroes just save the day without being degraded like a piece of ass?!

 

There was no way, come hell or high water, I was being fetishised by some creepers on the front page of a magazine. And, if I had my way, I'd be recommending the same to anyone else I met. I mean, Hagakure was naked! Design Team…. what the fuck?

 

“Kagami-chan,” I blinked, roused from my internal hatefest on sexism and sexualisation. Dad peered at me from over the top of his sketch pad, the same feverish look in his eyes that preceded an explosion of productivity. “Get your brother. May as well sort the both of you out, together.”

 

We had Chinese takeaway for dinner that night, slurping down noodles and crunching on the complimentary bag of prawn crackers in dad's office. Katsuki, as I knew he would, proved to be as much of a Drama Queen about his gear as he was about...everything else.

 

As for me?

 

“It's...too basic-”

 

“-not enough support-”

 

“-won't this fabric just burn right off me?”

 

It wasn't going great .

 

Just as I'd feared, it felt like any time we made headway with support and protection, we were cutting back on the opportunities for my Quirk. Whilst Katsuki finally declared his suit ‘fucking decent, piss off with those shitty glitter-pens, Kaga’, mine only became more stressful.

 

I remembered Hero suits from before , from Marvel® to DC® and everything in between. Whilst a disgusting amount of female suits were either basic-bitch bodysuits or the equivalent of a bikini, I needed something...more.

 

It was well-passed 11 pm when glancing at Katsuki's plan, I had a brainwave.

 

“Kaa-san,” I started, the office quiet with dad making a fresh round of tea and my twin in the bathroom. The older blonde glanced up, red eyes pink with tiredness in the low, yellow lamplight. I, no doubt, looked just as rough. “Can the school make...anything?”

 

Mum blinked, brows crumpling in thought. “Well, I'd say so...they better fucking try, seeing as they're supposed to be the best.”

 

I nodded. “What if I...had retractable areas...like my sleeves from here,” I gently chopped a hand down on the opposite wrist, “retracted to my elbow and from here,” my hand raised to rest just above the joint, “to my shoulder. Ankle to knee, knee to thigh on my legs. Stomach to ribs as well, maybe?”

 

“So...you could control when shit would burn? And, if any Bastard went for you, you could expose skin to meet their blows?”

 

I snapped my fingers. “Yes!”

 

“A computer system? Mechanical?” Kaa-san mused, a bright spark in her eyes chasing away the exhaustion. “Nah, let those fuckers at the school work it out but get that down on paper, kid!”

 

I scrambled for a pencil as mum started pacing, her circuit tiny in the filled space. “What if your suit encouraged sweating? Katsuki's gathers his sweat into those fucking gauntlets; if your suit makes you sweat say...twice! Twice as much?” her fist thumped into her open palm and the pen raced across my page, handwriting barely legible. “You'd fucking blow those bastards sky high!”

 

Dad always kept a few empty model outlines lying about for ideas off the top of his head. I fumbled to grab one from his desk, tracing the lines of my Hero suit with tongue between teeth and eagerly accepting the coloured markers Kaa-san handed me.

 

“Fuck yes, kid.” Mum glanced over my shoulder, chin on my head and I could feel her smirk against my hair.

 

“It's done?”

 

“It's fucking done.”

 

“Oi!” Katsuki barged back in, eyes roving over the sight of our hunched figures. Behind him, dad had a tray of tea. “What did I fucking miss?”

 

Mum turned, arm looping around my shoulder and dangerously close to the exposed skin of my cheek.

 

“Good news, brat! Kaga isn't gonna be naked anymore!”



…………………………………………………….

 

By the time we were back at school, I was, rather predictably, back on my bullshit again.

 

After the, ahem, disastrous happenings of fucking Katsuki's stupid, fucking, shitty beach fight, we'd taken up residence at the local junkyard for Quirk training. Yes, we were technically trespassing. Yes , we had to run and/or hide whenever anyone realised we weren't actually just the furnaces being loud.

 

Izuku had a fit when he'd heard, the first day back at school and huddled in the corner of Math class.

 

Patting his shoulder and waving away his concerns that we'd get arrested for trespassing, I hadn't failed to notice how he'd changed over break. His shoulders were broader, hands scuffed and chapped from hard labour and the muscles of his arms shifted under his sleeves.

 

The girl behind us caught my eyes, lingering on Izuku's new biceps with a thoughtful gaze (wondering at all the breaks those limbs would face), and started cooing about how I had a crush.

 

Excuse me, bitch?

 

I'd barely whipped out my best glare, Izuku a cherry-red and melted puddle of mortification, when Katsuki's sharp ears inevitably picked up on the commotion and he almost lunged for the idiot. Well, before I got a good enough grip on my frothing twin - (“ Say that a-fucking-gain?! I fucking dare you, you stupid cow-!” ) and manhandled him out of the classroom, all the while smiling at sensei that I thought my brother really wasn't feeling too well.

 

We didn't get detention because everyone knew we were shooting for UA.  Stupid favouritism.

 

After that, however, I kept my eyes to myself, more than a bit embarrassed myself. I mean… I'd spent almost half a bloody hour convincing my brother that Izuku was just a friend and when I'd dared to call our bond like that of siblings?

 

Cue another 30 minutes chill-out from that tongue-slip.

 

On one hand, Izuku and I nailed down just how mutually platonic our affection for one another was.

 

On the other...well. Who knew Katsuki loved me so much he'd rather die than share?

 

(And fucking perish he would , if that stupid ass thought he could dictate shit to me-)

 

But, like it always seemed to when life was busy and time flew by, I felt my attention shift to the looming entrance exam.

 

After my incident with the rope, I'd taken to flicking sparks across oil slicks and seeing how far my flames lasted on my skin when I really pushed it.

 

I was up to 2 minutes.

 

But...Izuku was out there training with All Might, although that was now after school, and Katsu's Quirk had never been a problem for him…

 

Not for the first time, I wished I knew someone like Midnight. Her Quirk was undeniably powerful but...how has she even gotten past the robots?

 

But, here I was, finally testing out Izuku's suggestion from so long ago.

 

I was at the junkyard alone this time. My twin was playing the drums at school and I'd told the folks I was going for a walk, to gather some inspiration. Well, I hadn't lied. My sketchpad and pencils were just over there, on top of that tire! It just so happened that my ‘inspiration’ had taken me in this direction and I’d spotted an old car, bonnet popped and waiting to get scrapped.

 

The window was open so it really wasn't as hard as it could have been to pop the door and find the keys, conveniently tucked into the driver’s visor. Cautious of attracting attention (you'd be surprised how like a crappy old furnace or smelting machine Katsuki and I could sound), I eased myself into the driver’s seat and prayed no-one had died there...or had rabies...or fleas...or wet themselves...you get the picture.

 

I wasn't sure if it was intervention from God or frickin Satan when the engine groaned angrily but started nonetheless, growling in the empty yard.

 

Gloved hands rested delicately on the wheel for a long second before I was out the door, engine still running, and skidding around to the still-open bonnet. God, but I could almost see the rust vibrating off in a fine, ruddy dust.

 

I'd never learned to drive before, focusing more on my degree than spending money on something I hadn't immediately needed. Sure, I'd travelled a lot but biking, planes and trains had really never led me astray.

 

That didn't mean I didn't have a vague understanding of how a car worked.

 

My sisters had been drivers, considerably older as they were, and my dad had always insisted that we all know certain life skills. Like...changing a light bulb, gardening and basic DIY, working out the madness of an IKEA© flatpack...and figuring out the basics of a broken down vehicle. It wasn't much, and I actually remembered even less, but I knew enough to know where the battery was.

 

Eyes fixed on the tangle of dusty, fucking grim wires, I tugged off my gloves and, almost reverently, brushed a sweaty fingertip on the dull copper of an exposed wire.

 

The effect was immediate.

 

In hindsight? And before the ramifications slam home? I'd like to apologize for my overwhelming, fucking stupidity.

 

The engine juddered, white-hot energy - holy fuck - crackling over my hand and numbing my entire limb before it slammed , up and through, arms locking and eyes wide and the fire raced after, a red so dark it was like blood .

 

The electricity earthed through my feet.

 

And I went flying.

 

There was a heap of landfill a handful of meters behind me and, limbs locked and mouth filled with blood - fuck, fuck, fuck, I'd bitten my tongue at some point - I smacked into the side of that skip. Hard.

 

Now, and I know this is an interesting time for a tangent but bear with me, I'd noticed some interesting things pertaining to durability in this life. I got cut and bruised just as easily as before but, as proven time and time again, everyone here seemed to have an inherent ability to take a hit and not, like, die .

 

Like now, for example.

 

I woke up when some insensitive dickhead slapped me a new one.

 

A single eye cracked open, only to close again with a low oath when dazed red met furious scarlet.

 

I was promptly slapped again.

 

“Oh, no you fucking don't! Kaga, wake the fuck up you shitty, little asshole! What the fucking fuck?! I arrive late to see you blow up a fucking car?”

 

Limbs throbbing painfully but, with a cautious wiggle and shift, nothing was broken and all was functioning normally. Even though I felt like I'd been driven over the car, not blown up by it.

 

Or, I mentally giggled, head lolling when Katsuki started gathering me into his arms. He was super warm... if I'd not blown it up! Suck on that, car!

 

Okay, so maybe I was a little damaged.

 

Well...at least now I know I'd survive being electrocuted?








 

 

Chapter Text

 

“...You're gonna tell the folks, aren't cha?”

 

The junkyard was eerily quiet after the ringing of my ears had dulled, tense as I waited for my brother's inevitable explosion.

 

I was left in suspense when the characteristic swearing didn't rent the air, blinking when I was firmly (but not roughly) propped up against Katsuki's shoulder as he fished in his pocket for, presumably, his phone.

 

“Old Hag-! Meet us at the fucking hospital, Kaga was a-”

 

“Isn't that a bit,” I croaked, mentally flopping around for the right words and nearly speaking in fucking English of all things, “Extreme?”

 

Katsuki locked his phone with such drama, I could just imagine the sassiness had it been an old flip phone one. “You rattled your fucking brain, dumbass.”

 

I frowned, eyes drooping when arms curled around my back, another looping under my curled legs and hauling me up. “I'll take that as a yes.” 

 

Katsuki ignored me.

 

We passed by the car, bonnet still up but stained deep black with scorch marks, the engine completely burnt out. Honestly, it was kinda a miracle I hadn't set the entire fucking thing up like a bonfire.

 

I doubted Izuku meant for me to try electrics out quite this way but, then again, that boy was ridiculously reckless too. Well, that's only when he's fighting, right? Does it apply to my dumbass self sticking my finger in the kinda-but-not-really-proverbial socket?

 

“Oi, Kaga,” I was sharply jolted, my forehead under Katsuki's chin and curled up in his arms. “Don't you dare fucking fall asleep.”

 

“Why…?” I slurred against the skin of his neck, absentmindedly noticed the reddening and swelling of blisters but not quite remembering why they were bad. I was so out of it, there wasn't really I hope in hell I could leash my Quirk.

 

Katsuki bounced me again, a deliberate movement since we were heading up a straight stretch of pavement, and my eyes opened a little more. “Concussion, you fucking idiot. You dented a shitty skip .”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Yeah, fucking oh .”

 

“...Are we going to the hospital, then?”

 

“...Yeah.”

 

Well, shit, I really was kinda sleepy now and Katsuki was really warm and he smelled the same as ever, cinnamon and matches and sweat (and a little bit like lighter fluid but, well, I smelled the same so I barely even noticed anymore) and it reminded me of sharing beds and blankets. When my eyes drifted shut, head throbbing with every beat of my pulse, it was with a garbled groan.

 

The peace lasted another thirty seconds before Katsuki started pinching my side, where his arm was supporting my back.

 

“What did I just fucking say? Don't. Fucking. Sleep !”

 

We got to the hospital around twenty minutes later and Katsuki strolled right on up to the front desk, the receptionist glancing up from frantically typing on her computer when Katsuki kicked the side of the wrap-around unit.

 

For my part, I had my eyes clamped shut against the absolutely merciless emergency room light, cold white squares set into the low ceiling and glaring down like the dicks they were.

 

“Oi! My stupid, shitty sister needs a fucking doctor-!”

 

“Name?”

 

“Kagami!”

 

I garbled a groan, head lolling back despite the sharp lance of pain. He'd texted our folks? What a dick move, tch .

 

“Kagami, you little brat!”

 

Ahhh, Kaa-san~

 

It was actually dad who reached us first - judging from the frantic clicking, mum was still wearing her stilettos -, coming up behind my twin's shoulder and flapping his hands frantically.

 

“You were electrocuted!?!”

 

Things, as you can imagine, went downhill from there. And, considering the shittiness of my day already? Pfft, that's really saying something. 

 

The doctors were immediately summoned at the first hint of electrocution, and then I had my vitals tested. Normally, if you were able to get up and walk away from a nasty shock like that...well, it happens to people everyday and they're fine. However, because I'd been sent flying, bashed myself and passed out, they were being careful. Add on that it was Quirk related - I wasn't being charged of misconduct or even a record being taken to ruin my chances at UA because of the passive nature of my Quirk...as far as anyone here knew, it had been an accident - and I was there a good few hours. Granted, most of that was just waiting around but, hey, that's the nature of hospitals.

 

Unfortunately, the waiting periods were the perfect time for an inescapable ambush and our parents took every advantage of this-

 

***

 

“Kagami, how could you?” it was the disappointment in my dad's voice that had my eyes fixed on the floor.

 

“I-er, I just thought…”

 

“Oh, we fucking know what you thought,” Kaa-san sniped, legs crossed and arms folded.

 

The waiting room - I was waiting for a doctor to examine my head, with concerns for possible concussion - was beige and bland and hummed with quiet activity. The chairs were hard with dad to my left, Katsuki to my right and our mum opposite me.

 

My twin had refused to talk to me since the folks had arrived, avoiding even looking at me with jaw set and brows furrowed. However, my head was still throbbing, neck as weak as a pipe cleaner, and Katsuki had wordlessly wrapped an arm around my shoulder to support my skull.

 

“You're so irresponsible! I fucking thought Katsuki was going to be the problem child-” whoa, I knew it was bad when my brother didn't even twitch at that, “-but you've certainly proved me fucking wrong!”

 

I, on the other hand, did flinch.

 

“You don't seem to care about your own health! What if you'd fucking died , Huh?!”

 

***

 

-Katsuki was nice enough to hold his ire until we were back home.

 

I know, I was surprised too.

 

I was dumped on his bed - yep, he didn't even take me to mine - and had to grab the edge before I pitched off again. Above me, Katsuki turned on the lamp, pulling his hoodie over his head and glaring at me through his messy hair.

 

“Thanks for the lift-” I started, only slightly sarcastic.

 

“What. The. Fuck , Kagami?”

 

My mouth slowly closed, polite smile fading. “Ah.”

 

Scarred, calloused hands ran through platinum spikes and my brother started pacing, his face in shadow with the yellow desk lamp behind him.

 

“What the fuck were you thinking? Extra training with a fucking car?! What if you'd scrambled that stupid, oh-so-fucking-clever brain of yours, idiot!”

 

“Hey, it was just a test and aside from the whole hitting my head bit, I'm fine! The doctors said I was fine!”

 

“That's not the point, Kagami!” My brother raged, jerking to a stop and spinning to stare down at me. His eyes, in the dark of his room, blazed maroon and his chest heaved. Fuck, if I didn't know better I'd say he...he...was upset.

 

I blinked, lips parting.

 

Like... upset upset. Like he didn't know what to feel or do and his eyes looked a little shiny and, fuck, but I knew we loved each other but Katsuki was never this open and-

 

Honestly, I wasn't sure I could cope if he started getting emotional. There was something very, very scary about that possibility. Because Katsuki was a constant, bullheaded and daring but never truly afraid. I'd seen him defensive and triumphant, terrified and angry, but everything connected to uncertainty or fear had always been tightly controlled. When he'd been attacked, that had been a desperate will to live .

 

Suddenly, I wondered how I'd looked when he'd found me. Smoking and conscious, my head bleeding and the car sparking and-

 

I sat up, hunching over when my vision spun and glanced up to hold my brother’s burning gaze.

 

“I want to be stronger.”

 

His nostrils flared, mouth pinched and jaw visibly popping.

 

“You've never doubted your Quirk, Katsu. I can't even touch our parents without hurting them! Do you know how that fucking feels?! To just hurt people but not be any good in a fight? How can I help Victims or save people if all I do is hurt them? I wanted to know what would happen if I faced robots. Something that won't let go just because I catch fire. Something that doesn't have a pain tolerance. So, go on. fucking scream at me for being reckless and careless. What's done is done.”

 

The room was silent for a long second and I finally sat back, chest heaving and eyes traitorously prickling. My eyes closed, neck as weak as a pipe cleaner and waited for the inevitable explosion.

 

It...didn't come.

 

One eye peeking open to see what was taking so bloody long, I found myself staring at my brothers face, so strikingly similar to my own.

 

Today was apparently a day of new discoveries...I'd never seen Katsuki so... conflicted before.

 

However, Katsu was Katsu and the anger in those ruby eyes was impossible to restrain.

 

“You're a fucking idiot, Kaga. I've said it before and I'll fucking say it again: I'm gonna win.” He leaned in close, shoving me to the side so that he could plonk himself down next to me. We were both fully dressed, in trackies and tees, but I wasn't too fazed. Neither was Katsuki. “You fucking promised to be number 2-” (“er, not exactly, bro-”) “-so don't be so fucking insecure, you're not like that.”

 

I hid my smile in the swell of his growing shoulders. How...sweet.

 

“Don't be so fucking stupid again, asshole.”

 

“You're a dick.”

 

My parents, funnily enough, were nowhere near as, erm, accommodating as my twin.

 

“Grounded!”

 

“Nani?!”

 

“For two weeks!”

 

Ehhh?!”

 

I gaped, giving Katsuki a disgusting view of my half-chewed cereal. He wrinkled his nose, ramming his heel into my foot under the table and turning back to his own breakfast. “But-bu-but that’s not fair!”

 

Kaa-san's hands slammed down on the table, shaking the cutlery. Katsuki's glass fell over and spilt the last of his water down his trousers, setting him off on a storm. Over the racket, mum continued.

 

“I don't give a shit! I told you to take it easy, to be fucking careful, brat! And you went and not only started a car but gave yourself a fucking electric shock with it! Grounded, Kagami!”

 

Mouth flapping and hands extended beseechingly, I turned to dad. “Papa, can't you-”

 

The usually stressed but sweet brunette wasn't in a forgiving mood either, lifting a hand to stop my protests in their tracks. “No, Kagami-chan. You were incredibly foolish-”

 

“-you could have died, brat!”

 

So, yeah. Breakfast was tense, even more so when kaa-san reminded Katsuki it was his turn to make the bentos and my brother flipped his shit. Fair, considering he'd made them yesterday and Kaa-san had just soaked his uniform.

 

Auntie Inko had probably heard from mum and then passed the news onto Izuku because low and behold, who was waiting to - nervously, as standard - ambush me?

 

Our little forest-headed Hero himself.

 

“K-Kagami-chan! A-are you a-alright? Kaa-san-”

 

“Oh,” I sheepishly rubbed my throat, running a finger under the edge of my bodysuits high collar with a grimace. “Yeah, I'm fine...hit my head a bit but I'm all good! Just a scab!”

 

“It's all my fault though! I was the one to suggest you experiment with electrics-!”

 

“Easy, easy, Izuku-kun,” I soothed, slipping an arm through his and leading us through the yard. Absently, I noticed that Izuku had grown another inch. Urghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

 

“Don't you want to hear what I learned?”

 

Like candy from a baby, I grinned, tucking my crap into my locker and then filling Izuku in on what happened whilst he organised his own.

 

“-your own combustible abilities seem to have triggered those of a current and maybe even bolstered your own powers? It's fascinating because the base of your Quirk is friction even though, like most Quirks, they rarely follow more than the basic science of it, so the extra charge of electricity heightens your attack power. However, your body isn't suited to handling that kind of energy so, not only did it hurt but you failed to maintain coherency or conscio-”

 

“It didn't hurt.” I interrupted, twisting to meet my friend face on. It...it didn't. Hurt, that is.

 

“Ah!” Izuku only seemed to gain speed from the interruption. “So, maybe the extreme heat your body has adapted to protect you from your own Quirk has also inhibited the effects of electrocution. If youweretochargeacurrent, pairedwithyournaturalfriction-basedfireabilities, youmight-”

 

Izuku's rant, devolving as per usual into unintelligible mumbles, was interrupted by the loud ring of the bell.

 

“Class time,” I groaned, quickening our pace down the corridors.

 

The day at school, and therefore giving them space to clear their heads, and the lack of any lasting effect didn't deter the folks and they were no more forgiving when the two of us returned.

 

And so, for the next two weeks, I wasn't allowed to train. It was a much simpler schedule, a far cry from what I was used to, and without the gym and personal Quirk training, I'd never looked forward to karate and fencing more. Those classes we paid for so the folks had made an exception.

 

In fencing, my new style was going well. Or, rather, I felt a little more capable. 

 

As soon as class was officially over, sensei and I would hang back and discuss my new style. I'd been the one to suggest a broader weapon, something heavier and possibly double-edged. It was a bit risky considering I didn't have anything like that to practice with and...as a Hero, having a deadly weapon?

 

Yikes, I was glad I had years of practice under my belt, even if it was considerably less in this life. I'd need precise control not to, ya know, maim or kill someone. I'd been a bit of a pacifist before but, seeing as that really wasn't gonna work here, I'd like to at least keep my kill count at zilch.

 

Sensei, two weeks into learning how to fight a little less like this was the Olympics and more like Wesley in The Princess Bride , had declared, hands cupping his chin as I altered my sets, that I needed spontaneity.

 

Before he lunged.

 

Scrambling back and forcing myself out of the automatic En Garde crouch, I could only dance around the wacks of his foil. For a man who, I'd discovered, studied fencing whilst attending University in France, sensei was very good at fighting like a lunatic and not the stiff and perfectionistic man I'd been studying under.

 

When I realised he was trying to crowd me into a corner where I'd be forced to cede the match, I decided that a looser style meant looser rules.

 

As in, none.

 

Quick as a flash, I ducked under his next swing, swiping at his legs with my own and hurrying to press the side of my own blade to sensei's chest when he hit the floor with a resounding smack.

 

Sensei had been impressed. So impressed he'd insisted on all but smacking me down for another two hours, forcing me to duck and weave and flat-out run away.

 

Never let it be said that sensei wasn't a prideful man.

 

School had been considerably less rewarding when, as I'd basically hyper fixated on preparing for the future, I'd neglected preparing for the future .

 

As in paying attention in class .

 

Now, I know, I know, I was a Uni student! Surely, I'd breeze through middle school content like it was a joke! I'd be top of the class!

 

ERR-ERR! (think of the “wrong-o” buzzer noise, those of you without an imagination.)

 

Can I say something here? Good, because I'm gonna. I was a University student getting a degree in History. Not only were my memories already beginning to blur (obsessing over the timeline of this manga had kept certain events clear in my mind, yes, but at the loss of other memories), but I hadn't studied certain subjects in years. I'd been at the top of all my classes at high school because, not to sound like a dick, I was naturally pretty clever. I'd had to work hard at maths, though, and even in Life Two… I was not gonna be coming Top anytime soon. Add on my hatred of writing Japanese?

 

Yup. I was a pretty piss-poor student.

 

Not low enough to be of any danger getting into UA (I mean, Mina and Kaminari and Kirishima had got in fine!) but I was average, although I'm pretty sure everyone knew I was much cleverer than my spazzy writing would suggest.

 

Katsuki was top of the class...Izuku, Izuku was second.

 

Part of me was tempted to assume that Katsuki wasn't aware because, surely, he'd lose his tits. But, then again, there really wasn't a way that my competitive little shit of a brother wasn't absolutely aware of both my standing and Izuku's ranking. Anyone else, besides his sister and the boy he hates? Inconsequential in Katsuki's book, overconfident lil ass.

 

I was low-key (okay, high-key ) looking forward to UA when he wasn't All That anymore and had to acknowledge people's skills besides the two of us, haha!

 

But, regardless, school wasn't a walk in the park. Yeah, maybe I should be embarrassed that my brother was so much smarter on paper than a girl with memories spanning 15+ years in full-time education but meh. I wasn't exactly diligent.

 

Katsuki, however, was.

 

“Let me sleep…”  

 

I was unceremoniously smacked up the head before Katsuki continued drilling his finger into my uncompleted math sheet.

 

How would you smack someone ceremoniously? Like...a ritual? Or in a church or around a ceremonial bonfire? Do you think you can get a licen-

 

“Kaga! For fuck's- do your homework, you lazy ass!”

 

“You're a dick.”

 

“You're gonna fucking fail...tch.”

 

“No I won't, don't be so bloody melodramatic~”

 

“Tch.”

 

“Don't ‘ tch’ me!”

 

“Oi, brats! No bloody fighting at the table- if I have to replace it for a second time, you two will be paying for it!”

 

“What! That's not fair! Katsuki should pay for it, he doesn't even bloody spend his allowance and he's the one who breaks shit-”

 

“Don't fucking swear, Kagami!”

 

“Er, maybe that would be a bit more meaningful, Mitsuki, if-”

 

“I ain't paying for shit-!”

 

“You're full of shit-!”

 

“No. Fucking. Fighting!”

 

………………………………………………………………...

 

After the incident with the car, Katsuki had become a little more...in tune? With my moods.

 

Nothing so obvious to install worry, nothing anyone but our folks and, more than likely, Izuku had noticed. But he didn't brush me off as much, his eyes would sometimes follow me, careful and...thoughtful.

 

Sometimes, when I cracked a joke at the gym, he'd tease me back.

 

“Touch down!” I cheered, as if I actually knew shit about sports, when I finished my last set on the shoulder press and lowered the bar back into its holder.

 

Behind me, Katsuki snorted around the rim of his water bottle.

 

“Hole in one~” He sniped with a roll of his eyes.

 

A burst of bright laughter escaped my chest, mouth stretched into a beatific grin whilst my mind froze in shock.

 

It had been ages since Katsuki did anything but ignore or snort at my silliness. Like. Ages.

 

He still hadn't turned around though and I knew, for all his physical prowess, it was being social that tripped my twin up. So I played it cool, jabbing a playful elbow into his ribs and letting him take my place opposite the mirror.

 

But I smiled for the rest of the day.

 

Once our folks let me back in training, with another speech about prioritizing health over anything else, I was literally back to the drawing board.

 

My dad had been more than happy to dig out my Quirk file, even without my explanation.

 

The patient’s Quirk stems from her skin glands. A secretion of extremely flammable sweat, akin to nitroglycerin, is activated upon a force applied. The effect is not limited to the general area surrounding the main glands but extends over the entirety of her skin.

 

[see note- epidermal cells instead of regular glands. Possible that patient’s skin contains goblet cells under all epithelial]

 

Force applied:

 

Artificial friction: increase in temperature just beneath the skin. Possible that initial ignition is internal response to external stimuli.

 

Skin on skin: instant increase in heat, second subject submitted to burns. Severity of effect, direct correlation with amount/contact length. 

 

[Patient becomes increasingly distressed, burns now open flames]

 

I flipped the file closed without bothering to flip the page. I knew what I'd find anyway. 

 

Katsuki and I had been in the same room, with different doctors but not separated on our parents' insistence. We were twins, they'd argued, and they wouldn't make one wait for the other. Neither could the doctors make they choose between who to be there for.

 

After I'd started crying, the tests had quickly derailed when I set the bedcover on fire, huddling in the corner until dad, crouching a foot away, could calm me down enough to get myself under control.

 

It had been horrible and a little traumatising and I doubted I'd ever forget it.

 

The file, despite only being three pages in a slightly thicker wallet, felt heavy in my hands.

 

...lips pursed, I flipped open Katsu's for comparison's sake.

 

…………………………………………………………….



Hunched over our computer in Katsuki’s room, I typed as quickly as possible, aware of the impatient glare burning a hole into the side of my skull and that my extremely reluctant brother could go off at any point.

 

Not that I wouldn’t drag his ass back immediately. I’d didn’t believe in that bullshit about guys not taking any interest in joint presents and I wasn’t about to start now.

 

“What are we thinking, then? I mean, she liked the bath soaps from last year but then she saw the shirt on sale two weeks later and didn’t shut up about it for ages…”

 

Katsuki was silent for a long moment, elbows on knees where he was sat on his bed and chin propped up on his fist. “What about shoes?”

 

“Shoes?” I twisted in the desk chair to grimace at the other boy. “She has so many, though...Papa was complaining the other day that there’s no more space for another pair of courts.”

 

Scarlet eyes, barely visible through the tufts of hair falling to brush his cheeks, rolled. “The Hag always chats shit about her damned volleyball, right? If we get her some new pumps, maybe she’ll stop talking my fucking ear off and do it.”

 

I clapped my hands together, flames sparking briefly and the sharp noise made Katsu’s shoulders jerk in shock. “Excellent! If she’s out of the house, then we’ll get out easier too!” I twirled the chair back, feet raised to extend the spin and patted off the lingering flames at my wrists. “Brother-mine, that’s the Tea .”

 

Click, click, click-

 

“Yellow or blue?”

 

“Urghhh…”

 

In the end, we agreed on the buttercup yellow ones - Kaa-san’s favourite colour this season - and I managed to make Katsuki cough up half the amount and spring for shipping. Which was fair because I was saving up for some more fashionable pollution masks so I didn’t look like Kakashi or a renegade doctor. Katsuki was saving for another figurine.

 

Yeah, I’d say my need was dire-r.

 

Whilst we were at it, I put my refined Google -ing skills to use and tracked down the nearest volleyball court. Which was, luckily enough, just one train stop earlier from where my fencing class was. It was an indoor thing and you could either book sessions for your own team or sign up of one of the existing ones. It was a bit pricey but, after paying for our karate and gym, and my fencing, we figured it was only fair to return the favour. It was expected too because, of course, adult classes were more expensive. Tch.

 

If I kept all my extracurricular up throughout UA, I was gonna be so skint…

 

But, with the hullabaloo of present buying set aside, Katsuki and I could withstand our mother’s teasing about procrastination a little better. I wasn’t sure about my twin, but I’d been breaking a sweat every time she trash talked some new trend in the magazines out of fear that, when we did buy something, she’d troll it without meaning to. As it was, I was supremely confident in our taste.

 

Heaven knows I wasn’t the most fashionable person recently.

 

Okay, so, funny story. Or, rather, it would be once I’d acquired suitable emotional distance.

 

Katsuki and I had a list of chores that we split between us every week. I was an okay cook, better at ‘Western’ baking, but Katsuki was rather fantastic at it. So, (I liked to think it was because he wanted to give us both the most delicious lunches and not as a slight to me, ahem) Katsuki tended to make our lunches, with Kaa-san giving him a break every once in a while. I, on the other hand, did our laundry.

 

And, last week, I’d made lunch. Katsuki had gone really hard in the gym the previous night and was out like a light the next morning and he really didn't have time to fuck about in the kitchen. So, whilst he was rushing through the shower, I cobbled together something for our bentos.

 

It was only fair, then, that Katsuki did a turn with a wash. So we were even, yeah?

 

Only the idiot boy didn't realise that my gloves had to be hand-washed. And he didn't realise that they were reversible either. Dove grey on the outside...lime green inside.

 

So now all of my whites were mint green.

 

It really wasn't my colour, making me look vaguely ill. I was unhappy about that, to be honest.

 

And Kaa-san had taken it as a personal insult that her own flesh and blood hadn’t known how to treat fabrics (Papa had been rather disappointed too). 

 

So, on top of having quite a good portion of my wardrobe look like hospital scrubs, I now had to deal with one bratty twin brother who was getting lectured every night on how to handle silks and the incredibly important difference between true velvet and velveteen.

 

The boy could grump and groan however much he wanted, though, but I wasn’t so foolish as to think he wasn't absorbing every bit of information. Katsuki was very unprejudiced about knowledge like that. I mean, he’d always paid attention to how I did my hair and my nails and my makeup; I had little doubt he could imitate me just as well.

 

I didn’t know if, in Canon , Katsuki had known this shit, had paid attention. Oh-ho! Maybe Kaa-san and Papa had been really fucking excited about the offer from Best Jeanist and that’s why he’d picked that internship! Oh fuck, haha!

 

Regardless, we were both paying for his ignorance. Ahhhhh...it would be hilarious-

 

-in a while.

 

But my new minty wardrobe wasn’t a-okay so, after our next karate lesson, I insisted we go shopping.

 

It was the last week of November and the weather had turned accordingly. 

 

Katsuki had had the opportunity to practice his drumming that morning (checking the time, I'd tapped his screen to see the text in his notifications) but he'd not said shit.

 

Hiding a smile in the high collar of my quilted bomber, I promised myself that we'd be back before three so he could still go.

 

…………………………………………………………………..

 

Our mum turned 38 (I know right?!) in the first week of December. The sky was the palest blue, devoid of a single whisper of cloud, and Katsuki had a cold.

 

I know, pfft. He actually seemed to be insulted, above everything but angry and miserable, as if he couldn't believe the germs had fucking dared .

 

Cackle as I might, I wasn't a total tosser so I'd spend quite a few days shovelling dad's chicken noodle soup into Katsuki's yelling mouth and diluting meds into his water (because heaven fucking forbid you try and get him to take them without argument! Urghhhhhhhhh -). I'd been the poor soul to slap wet flannels to his forehead and pick up all his used tissues and make sure he wasn't a self sabotaging idiot.

 

I swear to god I hadn't gone through thick and thin with that boy for 1.5 decades for him to ruin it all by trying to go on a morning run. In. December.

 

Fucking stupid fucker-

 

“Kaa-san, happy birthday!” I beamed, kicking my brothers ankle when he failed do anything but sit, blanket I'd forced on him double knotted around his shoulders, and look petulant. 

 

The third blonde at the table, smirking red lips that matched her nails and ankle boots, snorted into her tea at the scene.

 

“How are you so youthful looking and cool?” I whined, flopping into my own chair and dragging the orange juice closer.

 

Blonde brows spiked but our mother was obviously pleased, preening just a bit. “Aren't brats supposed to complain about how ancient their folks are?”

 

I grimaced around the rim of my glass, batting away Katsuki's hand when I'd get it down. There was no way I was catching his bug. “You're gonna be a young grandma too.”

 

Dad and Katsuki simultaneously breathed the wrong way.

 

Kaa-san, for her part, immediately cackled, red lips stretched wide. “Should I be beating anyone up? Tryna tell me something, kid?”

 

Katsuki's fist took that moment to explode and, aware that he was using my blanket, I punched him between his shoulders, hard.

 

Just to help his cough, promise!

 

Under the pretence of rubbing his back with false sympathy, I leaned down to whisper in his ear.

 

If you think, little brother, that you can bang your chest and pull any restraining, overprotective bullshit… I'll punt you all the way to Hawaii~”

 

Katsuki wrenched away from my grip, face flushed from a mixture of anger, embarrassment and fever, but my work was done so I straightened, smirking. The expression, I've been told, is rather creepily like Kaa-san's so the weariness in my twin's gaze was warranted.

 

“If you bloody well try it, I'll return the favour but a hundred times worse. Every embarrassing story, every time you vomited out of spite as a kid...I'll even carry around naked baby photos.”

 

The flush was definitely getting worse now. “I've got fucking worse on you, Kaga!”

 

And I grinned. “Bring it, Bitch!”

 

“Whoa, whoa, calm the fuck down you two. I'm trying to fucking unwrap gifts here!”



She was chuffed with the shoes - winking at the buttercup shade - and claiming the membership was the perfect chance to ‘cramp my style’ on the train to fencing. I wasn't fazed, having long gotten over the teenage angst of ‘Urgh, moooooooom, you're so uncool!’.

 

Resting on our laurels, Katsuki and I shared a triumphant look (Katsu's was more condescending, as if I hadn't had to wrestle him in class to team up and it was all him). Which immediately dropped when Kaa-san spent the entirety of dinner - dad cooked hotpot and coconut buns - reenacting one of her last college matches, where she, er, won?

 

Fuck, I couldn't even tell you what role she played! (There were different positions, right??)

 

Kaa-san and I watched a trashy Korean Drama that night, something so eye-searingly cliche that dad had almost tripped getting out of there and Katsuki had pretty much hissed like a vampire. Which was stupid because dad was the biggest movie crier I'd ever seen . Ever. Like, as in both lives.

 

Katsuki, something of a film snob, was still growling as he grumpily brushed his teeth later.

 

Then, as December unfolded, the winter tests came. They were something of a final hurdle before our final exams and graduation and all three of us, myself and the boys, were...um. Well, we tried to cope in our own ways.

 

Ever know how to do something, something familiar that should be old hat by now? But, when it comes down to it, you're still a quaking mess?

 

That was me with tests. They never got easier.

 

Katsuki - surprise, surprise, blah, blah, blah - got the best in most subjects. But. But he did have a habit of flipping his shit on the occasions when he was beaten. Like now, come to think of it, snarling like a rottweiler with my own test (the one he'd said I'd fail, ironically enough) smudged in his face.

 

He ripped it off, lip curling and unamused, only to stare at my full marks English exam. No-one else was as good.

 

Behind me, rummaging in his own locker, Izuku ducked behind the open metal door. The sweetheart had come third, unwittingly aided by my propensity to hum English songs, and hadn't waited a second to congratulate me. Genuinely, too.

 

Wow but Izuku was a much better person than me. And Katsuki, heh.

 

“What. The. Fuck. Kaga?!”

 

“I'm just that awesome,” I smirked, pretending to file my nails before pausing and rifling through the pocket of my bag to pull out an actual file and doing them for real. Izuku had painted them Clementine orange during lunch yesterday so there wasn't much to do.

 

Katsuki squinted down at me. “You didn't cheat...right?”

 

“I'm disgusted by your lack of support!-” I wasn't, really, because I trolled the teachers enough that his doubts were pretty valid. But, still. I didn't have to fake smarts to aggravate them. And, anyway! If, for arguments’ sake, I did cheat, it wasn't going to be in a bloody English test, that's for sure! “Of course, I fucking didn't; I listen to bloody English music, you dick!”

 

Katsuki had the second highest score with a mark of 87. Ouch, his pride.

 

Then again, in the real world, he had to get used to disappointment so…I basked in my success for the rest of the day. Then, at three and still radiating satisfaction, we got our final homework sheets.

 

And Katsuki insisted, as we tossed our bags in our rooms and sat down at the table to get the work over and done with, that I speak my thought process aloud as I worked.

 

Despite everything I knew about Katsuki being extremely independent and aggressively self-absorbed, I wasn't too surprised. It wasn't the first time I'd had high marks in English homework (actually, I had a near perfect grade in the class, only ruined because of some “it just sounds right” grammar logic that I struggled to actually put into comprehensive reasoning). But, I think our looming applications to UA and our graduation from middle school were playing on my brother's mind. He'd been even more studious than usual, almost like on the homestretch with the finish line in sight.

 

So, really, as the only person he'd ever willingly shared with and relied on, I wasn't shocked. I was just...just a bit warm.

 

As for my own thoughts on the looming end of school? 

 

My mind still lingered on my little bout of electrocution. I hadn't been allowed near anything like it since but... I thought of the flames clawing up my arm and roaring towards the sky…

 

Even if I found an exposed wire, a miracle most likely, I'd not exactly be able to get a lot done. One measly robot, no matter how cool the takedown, was worth fuck all in the exam.

 

So...it was back to the drawing board.

 

Because there was no way I was giving up.

 

Having a Quirk didn't suddenly make you a demigod. Sure, Katsuki had a strong ability and he hadn't struggled much with it, besides learned the ‘on/off’ switch, as it were, but that really wasn't the case for most people. Uraraka was violently ill if she pushed her limits and poor Momo had to know the structure of what she was making inside and out.

 

I hurt people with mine. 

 

But, Todoroki had lost his mother, been scarred and lived in an abusive household all because of power.

 

Tokoyami, I could imagine, must've struggled terribly too. 

 

All things in life worth having had to be worked for. 

 

So electrics weren't the route for me, that was fine. But my power was strong , I knew that.

 

….I just had to be a little cleverer.

 

………………………………………………………………...

 

The December holidays hit with the speed of a freight train and brought with it a fuck tonne of snow. It blanketed the city in marshmallow drifts, the foggy sky almost the same colour as the grey Tower blocks and businesses until I felt like I was in some mysterious scene, like in Up.

 

With the holidays, like the chaotic mess of Christmas, came the aggravation of gift shopping.

 

Now, I loved shopping.

 

What I didn't like was getting shoved and elbowed whilst doing it in the mad crowds.

 

I knew if I dragged Katsuki along, I'd be fighting a battle on two fronts instead of just one. And we'd both just be miserable. Leave that sourpuss to his own present hunting.

 

So, naturally, if I was looking for a taller shoulder to hide behind and a ray of sunshine to pull me through the experience, I went along with Izuku.

 

Izuku had, thankfully, failed to grow much more over the winter. However...All Might's training and the greenette's own work out regime meant that he was still growing...across the way.

 

Seriously, holy fuck. Between Katsuki and Izuku, I looked like the cheese in the sandwich. They were getting pretty built for two teens.

 

I told myself I wasn't jealous. I had my own six-pack... this is fine!!

 

The mall was heaving and, using Izuku as my personal meatshield and battering ram, I was viciously glad that I was shorter for once. People didn't see me; ergo, I wasn't getting hit!

 

Crowds, try as I might, still made me panic.

 

It was just… such a close space! And I was touch-starved and dangerously flammable to boot. A moment of distraction and a touch and…

 

Crazy Girl Sets Shop Alight in Christmas Rampage-

 

Uh-huh. Fan tastic.

 

Well, we'd been at it for almost three hours, most of it spent in queues or the checkouts, and it had been a damned good haul so far.

 

I had leather hiking boots for Katsuki, the kind with fleece and insane grips. Some plush wool for Papa so he could do some more casual knitting (making scarves was something he did on occasion when planning for the next season was driving him insane. He was still creating something whilst soothing his own tension with the rhythmic finger motions, so it helped with the anxiety). Kaa-san got a nice new watch and Auntie Inko some China pink rose earrings. Izuku's present...well, I'd have to get it when Kaa-san went out next weekend. I didn't think I'd manage to hide it from him here; he was far too clever for that, it would be a game of careful elimination as soon as I entered the right shop!

 

Izuku was giggling, telling me about how Mt. lady started throwing shade at a stalker on Twitter this morning when someone started calling my name.

 

“Bakugou-chan! Bakugou-chan!”

 

For a second, I thought I must have heard wrong. I mean, I was hardly Miss Popular and I couldn't think of anyone who'd be calling out to me off the top of my head-

 

“Er, Kagami-chan?” Izuku, my mitten hand tucked into the crook of his elbow, turned to me. The red wool hat, that contrasted strongly against those wild curls and wide eyes, was really very festive. I reached up with my left hand, elbow weighed down with bags,  to push my fluffy earmuffs aside to hear clearer. “There's a boy calling you?”

 

Brows furrowing, I glanced around on bemusement. “ What boy-Oh!” A familiar head of brunette hair, black in the limited daylight, bounced closer as the older boy jogged over. “Miharu-kun!”

 

Fuck but I hadn't expected to see him here. Wasn't the rich neighbour a good while away? Surely the snobs had their own shopping district without the knockoffs?

 

My occasional-fencing partner smiled, a genuine quirk to his lips. He was never too expressive, much too introverted for that, and I wondered in the back of my mind if, thinking of Todoroki, it was the plight of pretty richer boys.

 

Nope...that wasn't a good comparison. Bugger, nevermind.

 

Miharu, oblivious to my mental distraction, was speaking. “Gift shopping, Bakugou-chan? And-”

 

“Oh!” I blushed, sending Izuku a mental apology for being such a ditz. “Miharu-kun, this is my best friend, Midoriya Izuku.” I squeezed the younger boy's bicep with a grin when he beamed at the intro. God, but he knew he was my bestie. Dork , I laughed fondly to myself. “Izuku-kun, this is Miharu Kotaro. We go to fencing together!”

 

The older boy, who, I'd learned, was three years our senior and not four like I'd first thought, turned pale eyes to Izuku. Who promptly blushed so hard he almost steamed in the cold air.

 

I watched on with winged brows.

 

“I-I-I-I-I-” hell “-I-I'd best b-be going, Kagami-chan!!!”

 

My jaw dropped. Nani?

 

But, suddenly, Izuku was a whirlwind of swiftness, gently but quickly extracting his arm from mine and getting a good grip of his numerous bags.

 

“Izuku-” I squawked, earmuffs ascue and wrapped in a padded coat and puff-ball matching mittens and muff like a snowman. “What-”

 

“Kaa-san needs me back!” Emerald eyes were popped wide, stark against his heavily flushed skin. What the fuck is he -

 

I glanced at Miharu, his café skin and pearlescent eyes and the shine to his hair like tempered dark chocolate, and-

 

Ohhhhh ….Oh, Izuku...pretty boy smiles and-

 

Well. Izuku had excellent taste. Miharu was lovely and indeed very pretty.

 

An unattainable older guy too? Izuku, my god.

 

“Are you sure? We should go get coffee together!” Izuku's wide gaze asked me why I enjoyed torturing him. “Auntie won't need you back for a while, you must've read your watch wrong! She said four , and it's only two !”

 

“There's a street vendor,” Miharu piped up, smiling gently, “just a street over. Their hot chocolate is great, apparently, if you want to keep walking?”

 

“That sounds fantastic!” I beamed, looping arms with one of Izuku's again and gripping on tightly this time.

 

Miharu turned kind eyes to the other boy and I dug an elbow into his ribs. It's effectiveness was questionable, though, because of all the layers.

 

Apparently incapable of functionable speech, Izuku just nodded rapidly, a bit like a bobblehead.

 

I smirked, smug as an obese cat.

 

“So...Miharu-kun,” I drawled, taking it upon myself to get the ball rolling. “What do you want to be when you're older?”

 

I peered around Izuku to see him.

 

And, yes, I had maneuvered the two boys to walking together. I mean, I had the most bags so arguing that walking on that side of me was difficult was the easiest thing in the world. Heh.

 

I'll admit to being excited but...Izuku had very little friends at school.

 

Like...me. And that's it. But, I mean, he was my only friend there too, so.

 

Wow. If I included Miharu and my own twin, that ranked me up to grand total of... drum roll ...three friends!

 

So, call me a busybody, fine! But, being attracted to him or no, Miharu could be a good friend to Izuku. I didn't know how he viewed Quirklessness and I wanted to hope for the best. But people were ignorant. 

 

Didn't mean we stopped trying though.

 

(Also, FYI, Miharu was almost 17- there was no bloody way he'd look at two short middle schoolers and think “damn, I should date one!” because that would be weird. Puberty was such a fucking trip that a two year age difference was really equivalent to a four year one. Just sayin')

 

“A Police Officer, Bakugou-chan.”

 

I could almost see Izuku perk up with interest, the both of us turned to the brunette.

 

“I-I-I-Is your Quirk useful for that, Miharu-san?” Izuku piped up, breathless and with a faint tremble to his arm in mine. I squeezed it, proud of him for speaking up. The Quirkless boy glanced back at me, mouth crooked and bashful.

 

Precious bean.

 

It turns out that asking about his dreams for the future was a good call because, damn , Miharu was passionate. After two years of fencing together, I'd already guessed a lot of the details. But...well...I didn't like talking about my Quirk, especially when sensei had had to warn the other students about being careful with contact. It wasn't taboo but Miharu had quickly picked up that the topic didn't exactly make me smile so we just...glossed over it.

 

Miharu's Quirk was, undeniably, super interesting. I'd only wish for an off button. His eyes were, technically, all pupil. Why they were white then didn't add up in my books but, hey; I was shit at science. Don't look here for any explanations. They could process light so well, though, that everything around him appeared to give off a faint glow. Like a strange camera, I guessed. The ‘magic’ (it was part of every Quirk, I'd eventually realised. Half science and half magic was the only way my brain could cope, especially with weird ones like mine and One for All) was that this somehow let him detect movement a second before it happened, like a backwards echo.

 

I didn't know about anyone else but...what the fuck? Talk about PTSD to Naruto .

 

It was undeniably awesome to think about  because...Miharu and I were damn near equals with a blade.

 

I'd cracked the tension, my work done, and Izuku couldn't help but grill the older boy on his vision. Emerald eyes burned with intelligence and I really wasn't surprised to see the pleased slant to Miharu's mouth. Izuku's approach could intimidate some or, for those more like me, be ridiculously gratifying.

 

When we found the stand, I was the one to interrupt their ridiculously technical discussion for their orders.

 

Which Miharu proceeded to pay for.

 

“That's!! That's not - nec essary -” Izuku flapped, bags at his feet and red glove stuffed in his pocket for his wallet.

 

“My treat!” Miharu smiled, his widest yet, with soft crinkles appearing around his eyes.

 

Something shivery and fond trembled in my belly. Oh bugger.

 

When the brunette turned back to the counter, I shot a glance at Izuku, who was trying to put the last of his bags in his backpack and surprisingly succeeded. 

 

Throwing a quick glance back at Miharu, I bent to hiss in Izuku's ear under the pretence of helping him.

 

“Oh god, why'd he have to be cute ?”

 

The effect was immediate, the green-eyed boy flinching away from me violently with cherry cheeks and blank-with-panic eyes fixed blindly ahead. 

 

Pressed for time before our drinks arrived, I snatched his arm and reeled him back in. “Easy, easy there, Izu-kun; Miharu is 17, we can look but not touch.” The Midoriya whined like a broken record and, rolling my eyes, I gave him a quick shake. “Cool it, buddy!!! Nothing wrong with two friends both having great taste!”

 

Well. I felt pretty awful for the younger boy. I least I had vague memories of what crushes felt like. Enough to feel pretty comfortable with them, at least.

 

Might I also add that knowing someone is completely unattainable can be the safest way to figure this stuff out? No pressure to act. Not having to navigate their emotions on top of your own. So long as you're realistic and don't actually fall in love...pretty fucking useful, especially if it's attraction to a gender or an identity you'd never felt like that towards before.

 

The rattle seemed to ground the greenette, face settling into something much more composed. “There we go!” I grinned, twisting just in time to accept my drink from Miharu. “Thanks!”

 

It was then that I felt my phone buzz and, clicking my tongue, I juggled my load to reach into my pocket.

 

Where the fuck is the charger?

 

Never let it be said that Katsuki wasn't a master conversationalist.

 

I left it in your room! Last night

 

It's not fucking there!?

 

ASK DAD

 

“Everything alright?”

 

I blinked up at the two boys. “What? Oh! Yeah, it's just Katsuki - my brother,” I added when Miharu merely blinked.

 

The brunette smiled again, small and wry, with snowflakes catching in his dark hair. “You have a brother?”

 

“A twin,” I corrected him, sipping my drink with no thought for the scalding temperature. “Do you? Have siblings?”

 

“An older sister,” he grinned, one of the biggest smiles I'd ever seen on him. It was obvious he loved her. I wondered if Katsuki ever looked so pleased to say he had a sister. “She's studying physics in Tokyo, wants to be an engineer. Her Quirk is like mine but she sees how things move, not the actual movement itself. It's hard to describe but it's pretty complex.”

 

Eyes wide, I stared up at him. Izuku, for his part, looked desperate for a notebook or, failing that, any type of writing utensil. He'd scrawl up his opposing arm if he could. I knew from experience. “That sounds...well, amazing? But also kinda distracting? Can she...turn it off? Doesn't it get tiring?”

 

Maybe it was because being Quirkless was normal for me but...I think I'd hate to have such a Quirk. Sure, mine was a curse and not a blessing but...god, can you fucking imagine having to deal with that ?

 

Miharu merely shrugged, clearly unfazed and took a gulp of coffee. As one, we crossed the street towards the Station, grey sky having slowly begun to darken as the afternoon slipped away. “No, and I see what you mean but we've never seen the world any differently?” He twisted towards us, blinking the dark lashes that framed his eyes as if to illustrate his point. Izuku's arm was a little stiff in mine. “I don't know about you but I barely remember life before my Quirk... I mean, we were only four!”

 

The two of us were rigid as boards and my good mood soured. Even necking the last of my cocoa failed to warm me. 

 

“Ha...yeah,” I coughed, smiling as genuinely as possible and not daring to look at Izuku. “Never known any better.”

 

“What train are you getting, Bakugou-chan, Midoriya-kun?”

 

I blinked rapidly, twisting to crane my neck at the nearest display and pressing my shoulder more firmly to Izuku's. “Platform 2, for the both of us.”

 

“Ahhh, I'm platform 5...it was nice seeing you, Bakugou-chan,” I was treated to another soft smile before Miharu turned to the boy beside me. “A pleasure to meet you too, Midoriya-kun.”

 

“...you t-too, Miharu-san.”

 

“We should do this again?” 

 

I agreed, dipping my head and shoulders in the gentlest bow and held my grin until the brunette was up the stairs and off to catch his train. 

 

“You okay there, Izu-kun?” I immediately asked, leading us both towards our own platform.

 

When our train pulled up, heaving with shoppers like the two of us, we were forced to cram into the carriage. Izuku, good friend that he was, stepping into Katsuki's role and braced my head down.

 

“Well?” I prompted, staring straight at the floor for good measure. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn't read my friend's expressions as well.

 

“Y-yeah...I'm fine.” And I believed it because, one, I couldn't detect a lie and, two, Izuku was remarkably steadfast like that. Sure, he wept and struggled but the boy was so very human.

 

Urgh. Way to sound like an alien creep there, idiot.

 

I opened my mouth. And closed it.

 

I'd put the poor guy through enough. Let's not break his mind by prodding at crushes.

 

The train was really too busy for much talking, humid and gross from body heat and melting snow, and my thoughts turned inwards.

 

This body was...strange. I'd never felt like I was older than my peers, an adult with kids, just more mature and with a much more solid sense of self. This body had developed like a normal child's and I'd felt every stage. I'd been highly emotional as a kid, my brain struggling to learn and understand and I'd grown. I didn't feel physical attraction either, the hormones there but...I'd never had a crush. I'd known how to do shit, like what walking was supposed to feel like and what was happening around us. What was expected of us. I knew how sex had felt and I remembered dating and getting drunk but...it was with a sense of detachment.

 

That wasn't to say I didn't feel an emotional attachment to before but it was different. This body didn’t have the same reactions as my old one. And I was only just entering puberty, give me a break! This body didn't feel emotions before it's time. I wasn't a young teen lusting after others and neither was I a 20-year-old (now, technically, 34 years) stuffed into a child. I was Kagami.

 

And Kagami was conflicted.

 

(Third person was for dramatic effect, I'm not bonkers.)

 

Miharu was...nice. He was from a richer family but still relatively modest. He was friendly and easy to talk to. Pretty too, if I thought about it. His dark hair and rich Terracotta skin emphasised his pearlescent eyes and, considering how much older he was, I could almost forgive him the half-foot height difference. I knew all of these things, accepted them as barefaced fact.

 

Did it mean I liked him, liked him?

 

I'd...had this issue before. Dating someone because they were nice and pretty but...there hadn't been a spark and I'd ended it really quickly, feeling worried that I would never be able to commit myself to someone.

 

Fuck but I was jumping the gun! I bump into a friend, who buys us coffee and we walk together to our trains, and Izuku obviously agrees and suddenly I see him in a new light and suddenly I'm having an existential crisis?!

 

Nuh uh, no fucking way was I getting into those mind games. God, it's just like that texting game where you start stressing because they haven't replied or what if you send too many emojis?

 

Ahhh...speaking of-

 

I pulled my phone out of my pocket, grimacing at Izuku apologetically for the elbow I dug into his belly. And... Ooooh, 10 texts from Katsuki!

 

None of them were very fucking surprising. A few telling me to fucking answer, another about how his charging cable was obviously lost so he'd taken the liberty of nicking mine until I fucking returned it (the expletives were his, this time) (I was, honestly, a little touched he'd even told me instead of just taking it without a word like usual) and then another about being late to dinner.

 

I messaged that I was on the train now, omitting my exact company for the sake of my peace of mind even though he definitely knew who my favourite shopping partner was. I tucked my phone away before the dots formed an actual message.

 

Despite Katsuki's warnings, I did make it back for dinner. I'd said goodbye to Izuku where our walk divided, hugging his tightly and making him promise to message me, before I'd scurried on home alone. The house was roastingly warm when my key released the lock and I'd rushed to peel off my layers, shouting my greeting and running upstairs to stash my stuff before the meal was served. 

 

We were having steamed dumplings with a miso and eggplant broth. Katsuki, naturally, ruined his with a fistful of chilli, from the bowl Papa had taken to leaving at his son’s elbow. What a bloody masochist.

 

“Hey, Kaa-san...how do you know you like someone and aren't just flattered or in a friend way?” My idle words disrupted the gentle clack of utensils on crockery.

 

And then they registered.

 

Katsuki immediately started choking, fist to his mouth and Kaa-san's palm between his shoulders as he almost coughed up a lung when his mouthful went the wrong way. He was scarlet, other fist popping sparks where it was braced on the table edge.

 

Not a-bloody-gain!

 

I rolled my eyes, dipping the last mouthful of dumpling into my broth with utter serenity and utterly done with Katsuki heaving like a plague victim every time I mentioned feels.

 

For once, I ignored the opportunity to take the piss. I was actually serious. I remembered having crushes before but...Miharu confused me. I liked him but did I like like him?

 

…..those kinds of memories were super blurry, okay?!

 

“Well, brat, who's the heartbreaker?” Kaa-san, still smacking her youngest, grinned. It was very toothy, like a shark.

 

I shrugged, a slow and rolling shift of my shoulders. “I'm just curious…!”

 

Dad was looking pretty pale too, pouring two glasses of water and sliding one to my brother before knocking his back like a shot.

 

“Oh really? Hmm?” Mitsuki leaned closed, a hellish glint in her eye. Was she enjoying the general suffering or feeling protective? God but I could never tell. “Whatever you fucking say brat but, well,” and, suddenly, she was sitting back, arms folded on the table and expression curious. I was gonna get whiplash one day, I fucking swear. “Do you feel nervous or jittery?”

 

“Can we, er, discuss this after dinn-” Dad piped up, swirling his second cup of water like it was whisky.

 

Apparently two minutes was Katsuki's reboot time.

 

“What the fuck ?! You have a bloody crush?!”

 

I shot him a pitying glance. “Really, Katsuki, do try to keep up. That's what we're trying to fucking work out, idiot!”

 

“Tell me it's not shitty Dek-”

 

My chopsticks snapped in my fist, catching fire through my gloves. “Call him that! I fucking dare you! And anyway, I already told you that Izuku-kun is just a bloody friend! Pull your head out of your ass or these-” I waved my flaming handful towards him as dad tried to get me to drop them into an empty saucepan he'd grabbed from the counter. “-will be joining it!”

 

“So!” I clapped my hands, stubbornly ignoring how they were still wreathed in cherry red flames, and turned back to my mum. “I don't think I feel nervous but he’s always very nice and he smiled loads and he bought me and Izuku coffee so do you think that was just friendliness?”

 

“Well…it's difficult to say. It could be that he was making an effort but boys are fucking stupid.” Katsuki whipped his head to scowl at her. “They don't fucking know what they're doing half the bloody time. How old is he?”

 

“Umm,” I speared a dumpling on my single surviving chopstick, even if it was charred, and ignored how my twin slammed his glass onto the table. Beside me, dad started massaging his temple with his free hand. “He's from fencing.”

 

“All those brats are older!” Kaa-san smirked, ruby eyes carefully examining my expression. “Bit too much, though, Kaga.”

 

“I know,” I grinned before shooting a glance at dad from the corner of my eye. “He's just so pretty.”

 

Dad groaned, elbow on the table and palm to his forehead. Katsuki, opposite me as usual, suddenly decided that choking just wasn't getting the reaction he hoped for.

 

O-o-older?” 

 

His gaze bore into mine, angry and hard and fucking rude. 

 

“Thanks, Kaa-san,” I rolled my eyes at her before turning an arch brow on my brother. “What?”

 

The wind dropped from his sails and he slumped back, mullish and with a definite pout.

 

“There, there,” I dared to reach and pat his hand, eyes boring lasers at the skin where we touched and my efforts were rewarded; no blisters. “I'm not dating anyone, you loon.”

 

“Whatever,” he grumbled, red eyes hooded. “Don't fuck about.”

 

I took that as nicely as possible, quite chuffed with myself for ignoring the insinuation that I would screw with people's emotions. Tch. As if I would. (Fourteen years old, boy-o, what are you getting at?)

 

Tch .

 

In bed that night, I stared at the ceiling. Unlike most nights when I couldn't sleep, I wasn't plagued with fears of the future or the timeline. No nightmares, of falling planes or faceless family members asking me why I was forgetting then so easily, or Katsuki choking to death as Heroes watched on.

 

Tonight, I was thinking about Miharu.

 

Isn't it funny how such a tiny thing can have your mind spinning? I had little doubt it was my new and inexperienced hormones muddling with my head, I was never this fucking tepid, but wow , those fuckers were effective. I'd already come to the conclusion I didn't like Miharu that way and I was still thinking about it.

 

Maybe it's because my old memories of this sort of thing had started to blur and mingle. Maybe it's because it had been over a decade since my brain had been fucked with this way.

 

Maybe I was just a chronic overthinker.



……………………………………………………………….

 

The early days of January could be summed up in a single word.

 

Soggy.

 

My hair, a chaos of spikes, wasn't the type to go foofy, thank fuck. But it did get a bit grim, weighed down with the humidity and knotted in the high winds. Katsuki, much to my relish, suffered a very similar fate. Minus the whole having-to-spit-your-hair-out-when-it-blows-in-when-you're-talking-thing.

 

So, sick of the state of her hedgehog children, Kaa-san dragged us to the hairdressers.

 

At this point my hair was brushing my collar bones, spikey in a rocker-chick way that I hadn't committed my aesthetic too so I just looked a little messy.

 

However, I loved getting my hair done, the entire experience. Nothing better than kicking back and getting your head massaged. So, Kaa-san settled on the sofa in the corner with a gossip rag in her grasp (how she maintained a manicure was beyond me, I was completely notorious for chipping 0.2 seconds after painting mine) and I all but melted into my own styling chair.

 

Katsuki had had to be wrestled into his, one of my hands stretched across to clamp down on his forearm like a prison manacle. The truly nightmare-inducing curve to our mother’s lips had something to do with it too.

 

He sat and stewed, teeth bared and the hard muscles of his shoulders twitching with tension. Needless to say, he terrified the salon workers, flinching as they combed his hair and glaring when they pulled out their scissors.

 

I honestly thought he was going to break something and I liked this salon.

 

Hana, the girl currently debating whether to straighten or curl my hair at the end of our session, was lovely. And her hair was a cloud of deep aquamarine water that shifted and morphed styles around her shoulders. 

 

And dammit! I needed to concentrate incase she accidently touched more than my hair!!!

 

“You're gonna be ba-alllld!~”  I sang, eyes meeting Hana-san's in the mirror and nodding at the length to trim she was gesturing to. “Scalped like an egg!”

 

Katsuki roared beside me, head now stuck in the sink they'd wheeled behind him but I just grinned. “Fuck you, Kaga!”

 

The other customers looked really uncomfortable but...some things just can't be contained.

 

Like my brother, for example. Hehehe-

 

Thinking about his internship with Best Jeanist, I almost cried with laughter, cheeks puffed and stomach cramping from the force of holding it in. Holy fuck, I can't wait!

 

In the background, mum started complaining about how she couldn't take us “two monsters fucking anywhere”. 

 

I chortled, uncaring for the stares after so long but amused by the wary looks she herself was garnering. And not just because of her bright yellow leather jacket and airbrushed complexion.

 

Katsuki, upon my advice that I was flattered he'd taken, had wound up with a subtle undercut, the spikes on top of his head still brushing his brows in a fringe. It was more organised, less hedgehog-crazy-person and more an intentional messiness. He looked good.

 

I waltzed out after him with a rather different look. My Bob was even shorter, brushing my jaw that faded into a closer shave in the back. From behind, I probably looked even more like my brother and the thought was pleasing. It was angular and modern and, with my side parting and electric blue eyeliner that Izuku had bought me (he'd put together a bag of goodies for my gift and I loved him for it), I looked so cool.

 

Squeeeeeeeee!

 

Even Papa had blinked, smiling, when he'd first seen us come in and, if you had a fashion designer's (not really but yes really) approval, you'd done fucking good.

 

Miharu had eyed the new style with surprise on class that week and Izuku had fanboyed a little at school.

 

Before almost running a mile when I suggested he should get an undercut himself, to show-up my brother and all.

 

Honestly, though, can I just express the fact that everyone here would like divine with an undercut?!

 

(Although, Kirishima would look even better with long hair-)

 

………………………………………………………………...

 

By February, the finals were looming and, as both a blessing and a curse, my extra sword lessons advanced to using poles to imitate a heavier weapon.

 

Miharu, slightly more freely spoken since Christmas, had begun to linger behind after class had ended to help. Sensei had been reluctant, understandable since I wasn't even paying for this extra hour, but gave in when the older boy pointed out that double teaming and saving a victim scenarios would prove really helpful. To both my practice as a Hero and his as a future Police Officer.

 

So the brunette joined us, acting as either a civilian I had to protect or a second villain to keep me on my toes.

 

It actually worked very well the first two sessions. Miharu was taller and broader than me, weaker than Sensei but sprightlier too, and it was a good combination to the mix. I struggled to heave him around, and not just because I had to be careful, when he played slow and helpless. And he was always dashing between sensei and I to land low blows on my ribs and knees.

 

I was very, very bruised but I'd definitely improved.

 

So much so that I'd invited Izuku to join but, much to my disappointment, he refused. I knew he was busy, god if I didn't know, but I was getting stressed…

 

(Pfft, as if it wasn't obvious)

 

...what was All Might teaching him? I knew he'd pass the exam but…well. I wasn't looking forward to the aftermaths of every Quirk use. I didn't know if I'd influenced anything enough that Izuku had a better understanding of difficult Quirks, from watching me struggle, or if his solid foundation of karate would change his style.

 

I could only cross my fingers at this point. I couldn't intrude...I just had to hold out until UA, when he ‘reveals’ his powers and I can take a much more proactive role.

 

A hand gripped my wrist, jerking my guard away and pulling me off balance.

 

“Focus!” 

 

A hard tap to my ribs, the work of a low swinging staff, and I wrenched my arm free, jumping back a few feet (fuck yeah, anime!) to try and get some breathing room.

 

It was a two against one and I didn't have time, dammit, to angst over Izuku right now! Fucking focus, Kagami!!

 

Sweat dripped down the curve of my spine, soaking through my jumpsuit to my tee-shirt and making it cling under the protective gear. I was so fucking glad the materials were breathable and I was glad for my thinner gloves. It may have been lashing it down outside, but I was roasting , gasping on every breath and heart pumping so hard I could taste blood.

 

I was glad for my cooler outfit.

 

Up until Miharu tried to grab my wrist again and I stepped back, twisting in his grip to try and loosen-

 

The glove caught fire, scarlet like hell itself and staggeringly hot, encirling my wrist.

 

Right where Miharu was holding me.

 

Ahhhhhhh -” I screamed, leaping back and away and the older boy, the heat having taken a moment to fucking register, yelled right back, eyes watering and cradling his hand in a mirror of my own position. 

 

“Okay, stop!” Sensei barked, a blur of efficiency as he sprinted towards the bathroom and reappeared a moment later with a handful of sopping paper towels. “Hand!”

 

Jaw popping from how tightly he was clenching it, Miharu gingerly extended the limb.

 

My fire had yet to burn itself out but it was smaller, lapping flames that flickered mockingly over my unblemished skin. I was too warm, too sweaty, too-

 

Oh god. Oh god, I'd hurt someone.

 

This wasn't like Kamui Woods. Miharu was a civilian and a friend and I wasn't in a bad situation. This was supposed to be controlled and safe and-

 

I'd been lulled into a false sense of security. Because my gloves were fingerless and starting fires by clicking fingers and touching my face had desensitised me in it's own way. 

 

“Oh my god, Miharu-kun-” My mouth flapped uselessly, eyes unable to shift from the angry blisters already bubbling across the delicate tissue of his palms and the insides of his fingers. “I'm so sorry -”

 

“Calm down, Bakugou-chan. It's fine. These things happen. Do you need to use the sink?” Sensei interrupted, twisting from pressing the makeshift compress to Miharu's hand, and nodding to my fire.

 

Mute, I shook my head, clamping my fingers directly where Miharu's had been and forcing the fire gone.

 

“Good. Now, the both of you wait here whilst I get the first-aid kit.”

 

The burn was ugly, a splotchy red rash that looked even worse against the sodden tissues. 

 

As soon as sensei was out of sight, in the office, I was twisting, running towards our bags at the foot of the ballet mirror and digging out my spare gloves. My lightweight ones were ruined, the fingers the only things really remaining intact, and I was quick to rip them off, shoving my pale hands into replacements.

 

“I didn't realise your Quirk was quite so...strong.” His words were quiet, solemn and shaky with an attempt at humour poorly tagged on the end. Somehow, that he was trying to make things better, I only felt worse.

 

Crouched by the mirror, I could see him gingerly fold to sit cross-legged on our practice mat, still holding his hand to the sloppy mess of tissues.

 

I almost shrivelled but forced myself not to move, spine straight and chin up as I sat back on my haunches. Miharu had every right to be angry or sad or even sympathetic and I wasn't gonna crumble on him and make him comfort me. “Yeah. I, I'm really really sorry. I can't turn it off,” my lips quirked mirthlessly, “and it's sweat-based so fighting only makes it stronger.” My voice was even but I knew I wasn't fooling anyone.

 

“I think I'd best call your parents, Miharu-kun.” Sensei called, emerging from the office with the green box in his hands. Quickly and efficiently - so much so I wondered how many kids he'd patched up before - the older man wiped the area down, smeared burn cream and then told the teen to let the injury breathe.

 

“Are you gonna call mine too, sensei?” I muttered.

 

Calm eyes flicked to me. “Let's see Miharu-kun off first, no?”

 

I stood when the other two also rose, bowing as low as possible with arms ramrod at my sides. “I'm deeply sorry again.”

 

Miharu stepped closer, feet entering my feild of vision, and tapped a single cold finger to the crown of my head. Ichiro-sensei moved a little to the side to make the call. “Has this happened before? It was only an accident, Bakugou-chan.”

 

Guilt squirmed in my stomach like live snakes as I straightened. “No, actually,” I frowned into the middle distance as I wracked my brains. The only incidences I'd had had been with Katsuki and he'd only ever cried angry tears...that his Quirk didn't make him as fireproof as me. It had been an insult, apparently. But most of my incidences had been with the inanimate and that had been more than enough to traumatise me into paranoia. “I don't usually...touch people.”

 

Pale eyes flick over my face, carefully blank as two creamy pebbles. “And this applies to your entire body?”

 

Helpless, I huffed a laugh through my nose, mouth twisting. “Yeah, even where you don't normally sweat like your arms and feet. My Kaa-san's Quirk effects all of her pores so my dad thinks I'm more like her than the doctors originally thought. I'm sorry again.”

 

It was quiet for a long moment and, behind us, sensei hung up on the phone. 

 

“Miharu-kun, your family is sending a car around for you shortly. Bakugou-chan, perhaps you should freshen up whilst we wait?”

 

The words aimed at me were not meanly meant or meanly said and I didn't even blink. Coming from a family where we all had interesting pores, washing hands and faces and pits in the sink was just plain natural.

 

I'd hurt someone. And this wasn't just Katsuki in a fight because my brother always gave as good as he got. This was a boy who'd always been nice to me and had wanted to help but had been hurt anyway! He didn't have a natural resistance to fire like the Bakugou family.

 

It was a miserable thought but I told myself I'd have to get used to this hot curl of guilt in my stomach. There were, undoubtedly, going to be more people burned. Whether I would be distracted in a fight or not concentrating or whatever. I'd grown...comfortable in my boundaries with my folks and the Midoriyas. I hadn't had an incident in the dojo and the only other person I'd burned had been Kamui Woods.

 

Miharu was gone by the time I'd come out, walking down the steps but somehow knowing to turn back, catching my gaze with an awkward smile before he was hustled into the silver car on the curb.

 

“Shall we continue?”

 

“Sensei," I pursed my lips, “shouldn't we stop?”

 

The tall brunette quirked his head, black eyes assessing as he turned back inside and strode to pluck his sparring pole from where he'd set it aside. “It was a training accident and not the first, not the worst, to happen under my supervision. You are children and such is life in a society of Quirks. Now, shall we begin?”

 

I swallowed hard but picked up my own staff. “...ready, sensei.”

 

He beat me down. Hard .

 

“Focus, Bakugou-chan! You're scared, I can smell it! Don't just dodge, you need to take advantage of every single opening-”

 

Thwack, thwack, thwack-

 

Groaning, I pressed one hand along my ribs whilst the other awkwardly lifted the stave in front of me, held diagonally in an attempt to shield myself.

 

“Have you given up then?”

 

My arm dropped from where it had curled protectively over my middle and, with Bo staff clutched in both hands, I swiped at sensei's knees-

 

Having learned this trick before, Ichiro-sensei jumped over and backwards, so that I wouldn't have the reach and time to impede his landing-

 

I threw myself after him, coming in low and swinging the staff like a bloody baseball bat where it smacked into sensei's with a bone-jarring crack .

 

My hands were numb, my forearms shuddering with the force of our blows. These sessions hadn't just help me, but my teacher at well. We were both learning this new style - fuck, we probably should call it something - and it had really begin to show. It wasn't like just fighting with staves or incorporating acrobatics (that neither of us knew). It was fencing...without the manners. There were patterns, inspired by my Katas and the fencing sets, and, honestly, I wasn't sure it was quite like anything else I'd seen.

 

Sutoraiku, Sensei liked to yell at me; ‘Strike!’. 

 

Well...at least it wasn't cliche like ‘pouncing tiger’ or something-

 

“Good, Bakugou-chan.” Ichiro-sensei finally called, backing away to rest his hands on his hips. His face was scarlet, as was mine, and we were both breathing heavy.

 

My hands ached, fingers sore and cramping from holding the Bo staff so tightly.

 

“Hesitation, Bakugou-chan, will only cause greater harm in a fight. Sometimes things happen, as you saw earlier with Miharu-kun, but you will only learn from this experience. Class is over, until next week.”

 

Swallowing hard, I dipped into a low bow. “Yes, sensei.” I turned, peeling off my fencing jacket and stuffing it into my rucksack by the wall. It was cold out but I'd run to the station, slipping a light hoodie over my shoulders and leaving the studio. My staff slung diagonally through loops on my kit bag to rest along my back a meter long and heavy.

 

The rain had stopped, streets dark and my breath misted before me as I set off down the steps. Dusk had fallen but the heavy clouds, still threading rain, decreased the lingering sunlight to barely anything. Despite that, it wasn't yet dark enough for the street lamps to come on. The run was brisk and kept away the chill, the train busy as everyone made their way home. I kept to myself, as usual, pulling my hood over my head and ducking my chin into the collar until my cheeks were protected too.

 

I really hoped Miharu would forgive me, that he wouldn't look at me in class like everyone did at school...no one bothered me at the studio, all too busy with their own friends or the lesson at hand and it was a breath of fresh air at times.

 

But, most of all, I hoped Miharu wouldn't scar.

 

The house was quiet went I came in, with the main lights off and the smaller lamps on, creating pools of softer yellow light. It had an effect reminiscent of candles.

 

From the bright line of light under the office door and the murmur of conversation, I could well guess that my parents were still absorbed in work. They were expecting me, expecting me to bound in and babble about all the things we'd worked on and our plans for next week. Like usual.

 

I took the coward’s way out and, creeping up the stairs and into my room to ditch my shit, texted Papa that I was home before I locked the bathroom door and all but throwing myself into the shower.

 

The water was icy cold and my jumpsuit was soaked as I slowly peeled it off. I felt better doing it this way, as if every brush of bare skin was a fire hazard and the water was the only thing stopping it. 

 

Thump, thump -

 

“Kagami?” Dad's voice sounded muffled through the door. “What happened at class?”

 

I swallowed hard around the lump in my throat and my voice echoed strangely when I replied, “Nothing, Papa.”

 

I squeezed a drop of shampoo into my palm, the creamy soap almost the same colour as my sun-deprived skin. I hated it, lily white and sickly. Like a bloody alien. God but I just wanted to be tanned and strong and tall again, the girl who could hug and touch freely and who'd snorted when she laughed.

 

“Are you sure, Spitfire?”

 

“Yeah?” I phrased it like a question, knowing feigning confusion was my best bet at getting the affable man to back off.

 

It went quiet after that and I slowly rinsed my hair, slicking the spikes with conditioner before rinsing again and washing the sweat from my limbs.

 

The towels in the cupboard were hot and stiff, fresh from the dryer probably, and I wrapped one around my head and another under my arms. I hadn't grabbed a bodysuit, stupid really, so, unlocking the door, I zipped across the landing and shut my door firmly behind me.

 

Only to leap out of my skin when I turned to find Katsuki sat on my bed.

 

“Fuck!” I choked, hand at my throat and the other gripping the knot of my towel. “Wha-?” I spluttered, breathing deeply to calm my racing heart and, when I'd chilled a bit, frowning at my twin's expression. He looked...serious.

 

“Your shitty sensei called.”

 

Stomach dropping, I immediately twisted to glance at my shut door, as if his words would magically summon our folks. “Oh?”

 

Katsuki's eyes were half lidded and his palms were loosely clasped, elbows on spread knees. “I picked up, don't fucking worry. Said the oldies were out.”

 

I turned back, pushing an escaped strand of hair behind an ear. “Thanks. I guess.”

 

My brother snorted softly, nodding towards the dresser and then pointedly turning to stare at my closed curtains on his other side.

 

Against my will, my lips quirked in vague amusement. He was so adorable like that.

 

With Katsuki turned away - eyes closed for good measure, I'd noticed - I slipped on my underwear, a cycling suit and then flannel pjs over the top. Elbow-length gloves and knee high socks and then a cotton pollution mask, I finally told Katsu his eyes were safe as I pulled my damp hair into a topknot.

 

When his red gaze landed back on me, taking in the full outfit, I was prepared for a derisive comment.

 

What I wasn't prepared for was a warm hand curling around my fingers and, with a single insistent tug, pulling me to topple into his lap.

 

“Er,” I coughed, chin near his shoulder and legs over his. “Katsu-”

 

Still so weirdly quiet, aside from a low “ tsk,” , my brother's arms came around me in a solid embrace and I decided to shut the fuck up.

 

It had nothing to do with the lump in my throat, nope.

 

When I managed to find words, a while later, they were mumbled through my mask and into the skin beneath my twin's ear. “I burned him. I burned him and I wasn't even scared. I thought...I thought I'd finally got a grip.”

 

His jaw was set. “You didn't mean to so don't fucking wallow, Kaga. If the punk is so fucking great , he won't say shit, alright?”

 

Huh, well, you can't say he didn't have me pegged by now. As much as I understood him , Katsuki knew me.

 

He didn't pinch me or shove me off or make any move to actually move

 

He'd turned on my fairy lights, strung up everywhere in my room with the switch boxes arranged like a circuit board near the door, I realised abruptly. 

 

My floor was cleaner, the bed made when I knew I had left the duvet kicked aside and with my pyjamas thrown about and my wardrobe open (now closed). Katsuki was a closet mother hen, don't doubt it.

 

“Have you told ‘em?”

 

Katsuki didn't reply but that was answer enough.

 

(I told them in the morning and Papa hugged me gently and Kaa-san pet my hair and I saw my own sadness reflected back at me.

 

Miharu did end up scarring and he couldn't fence until his palm was healed. 

 

Katsuki started grabbing my wrists and hands more, as if to prove a point.)



…………………………………………………………………..

 

When school started back up again, it didn't just signify a rekindling of my suffering in the classroom.

 

We sent our applications off to UA.

 

Katsuki, as with almost everything, was so overwhelmingly confident that it bordered on clairvoyant certainty. In his books, anything but acceptance, even before we'd been admitted to the entrance exam, was incomprehensible. Whilst I was pretty confident too (We all had good grades and strong Quirks, which, in Izuku's case, wasn't even a thing yet) and I thought we could really do it.

 

Izuku had been shaking, trembling fingers white at the tightness with which he'd held the papers and the poor guy had even kissed them before sending them off.

 

I hadn't told Katsuki he'd done it. Apply, that is. It wasn't that Izuku was my first secret, of course not, and Izuku hadn't ever said he wasn't going to apply. At school, the green-haired boy was under my protection and I'd proven more than once since that summer that I was willing to throw hands for his sake. 

 

Izuku had even, stutteringly, defended himself a couple of times. I could say how proud I was. Bullying was a difficult thing. It did things, psychologically. And it was all well and good for people to say you should ignore them and they get bored, but children could be cruel and persistent.

 

I'd kicked chairs and slammed doors in faces more than once.

 

It was more that...well, Katsuki hated him. He was resentful, jealous as fuck and even more paranoid than that. He'd been genuinely hurt that I'd stood by the younger boy in the summer.

 

I wasn't gonna rub his nose in that. So I'd been discreet. Nothing secret or illicit, Izuku deserved more than that, but I hadn't flaunted it either.

 

I'd told Izuku as much, awkward and worried about his feelings, at we'd eaten lunch months ago. He'd been incredibly earnest and, somehow, that had made my heart ache with fondness. He was better than anyone deserved.

 

That being said, some friction was unavoidable. I'd been going to Izuku's place more than he'd been coming to ours by a huge margin. It wasn't fair to make Katsuki hide in his own house, so it was simply easier that way. We'd go there after school, text on the days Izuku was training with All Might (four times a week, one of which was directly after our karate class, oof) and make so is much as we could.

 

But, following up to exam season and our applications, I invited Izuku round.

 

He was a little nervous, it having been a over a month since he'd last been, but I'd swung my arm around his shoulders (setting us off a weird angle) and frogmarched him to my room.

 

Which I'd cleaned.

 

No need to make his head exploded at the slightest glimpse of bra. He hadn't been desensitized like Katsuki.

 

Speaking of-

 

Katsuki, snarling under his breath, had stomped upstairs to his room at the sight of Izuku's emerald curls coming up the patio. In contrast, Kaa-san was inordinately pleased to see Izuku and, as we ascended the stairs, had immediately called up Into for an inspired catch up.

 

"Ta-dah!" I flourished the stencil dad had drawn up for me - no, I was not ashamed - which showed my hero design with a model outline and everything. The perks of designer parents.

 

"Is this-?" The younger boy breathed, holding the page so delicately you would've thought it was spun sugar. " Wow !"

 

I beamed. The folks had really done well.

 

It was a basic black jumpsuit, encompassing everything below my jawline, with a face mask I could pull up over my nose if I wanted. The wrists, elbows, shoulders and all joints essentially, had a gold mechanism fitting into them. The material itself was a breathable Lycra which would, theoretically, absorb my sweat as I wore it, encouraging the skin to keep producing it too. Then, as soon as I sparked a light, I would be the next human torch.

 

It was a terrifying concept, especially considering the involuntary nature of most of my fires. The function of the gold fittings was as both protection on elbows, knees, wrist support etc., but also as an emergency fire-stop.

 

I could, if I couldn't get myself under control fast enough, release nitrogen into the fabric and, theoretically, fire-extinguish myself. Well. Until I started sweating again.

 

"What do you think?"

 

Emerald eyes glittered at me over the top of the page. "Amazing!"

 

And then he lost me, spewing out a million and one facts about fire Quirks that I probably should be known too.

 

After Izuku had worn his own breath out a bit, I dared to voice my own question. "So...how are you feeling for the Entrance Exam? Less than two months now." Even just looking at him, the two rods I'd use would be... 'nervous'.

 

 And 'jittery', I guessed.

 

Izuku opened his mouth, lips twisted a little in uncertainty, and I felt myself perk up a little. Was he going to… spill?

 

"Nervous, I think, Kagami-chan…"

 

I tried not to visibly whilt.

 

I didn't expect anything less but I can't say it didn't suck a little. What the hell was I even gonna do when he showed his Quirk?? Should I do a Katsuki and demand answers... minus the whole hatred and mocking me thing of course...? Was I supposed to act betrayed?

 

Honestly, I part of me was annoyed that Izuku was getting a Quirk.

 

He'd come so far and could do so much more as a Quirkless Hero. He'd just- he'd blow the bigots out of the water and I wanted him to show them all! 

 

But I knew I had no right. Izuku had suffered his whole life by being Quirkless and he needed One for All. There was a shit storm ahead and I couldn't ask him to go through that without every weapon in his arsenal.

 

Izuku would be thrilled to get that power and I'd be thrilled for him. Maybe… maybe we could do something about Quirkless bigotry at the same time? 

 

Well...we'll see.

 

When Izuku pulled out his own sketch, I almost dislocated my wrist trying to get my hands on the goddamned green bunny sketch. There was no way in hell I was letting him muck that up again-

 

January was drawing to a close when Kaa-san and Papa were sent into their annual flurry of panic about the ever-looming Spring Season. "The designs aren't ready!!" was frequently wailed down the phone.

 

It was an annual thing. The lambs are born, the snow melts, and Fashion Armageddon reigns the Bakugou Household. No biggie.

 

February brought with it, beyond a truly disgusting amount of rain, the exam season and Izuku became something of a revision fanatic. I could only chalk it up to his internal panicking about One For All. Couldn't really blame the poor guy for being desperate to get the highest scores possible. Well, I couldn't. Katsu certainly could. However, thinking about the Physical Quirk exam, aka Robot Smash, I'm not sure how helpful those scores would really be in the long run.

 

Katsuki was another sickeningly avid worker and the amount of time he spent on his homework… on guilting me into joining him, as boring as it is… he owed me.

 

Who fucking cares if good grades for me were a, spoiler alert, good thing for me! The fucking audacity-

 

We sat the exams.

 

The maths exam had been a study of willpower. The temptation to set the hall on fire, chalk it up to a stress-related accudent and have to resit, therefore buying myself time to purchase a cheat sheet online? Truly a feat that the only damage was my snapped pencil. God, I hated fractions.

 

English? I asked for extra paper and still finished first.

 

I suppose it was karma.

 

On the last day of the exams, Katsuki and I were eating bananas outside of the testing rooms. Bananas and chocolate bars, actually, because it's an old exam tradition from before I've found myself keen to keep hold of.

 

Also, I like bananas and chocolate. Weren't they supposed to aid with energy and smarts? Something like that. And fuck knows I needed as much help as possible.

 

By the end of the day, our tests were finished and ready to be whisked off for marking. After what felt like an age, and was really only a week, we all recieved a letter during First Period that listed the entrance exam dates to the various high schools. And, low and behold, right at the top of the page:

 

UA.

 

Fuck yeah.

 

With only a week left, Katsuki and I, like lots of kids I was told, were pulled from school for last minute 'preparations'. As it were, Izuku had been disappearing even more - frantically training, I could only assume - and the time off school seemed to be the perfect excuse for the you get boy to make himself akin to an endangered species. 

 

I was in no way okay with the occasional protein shake selfie at stupid o'clock before another 18 hours of radio silence. 

 

Then, one night, I bumped into Auntie Inko at the local corner shop on an errand for Kaa-san.

 

“Auntie!” I blinked, more surprised than I had any right to be to see that familiar head of emerald.

 

The older woman turned, smile already curving thin lips as she lowered herself from her tiptoes, having been trying to reach the top shelf. “Kagami-chan, what a lovely surprise!”

 

I reached to help, bracing a hand on a lower shelf and craning for the fucking tin from hell. Or heaven...considering the direction, is all. I think I almost popped something by the time my scrambling little fingers closed around it…Inko's, er, taller than me.

 

By an inch ! Good fucking god , I hadn't grown since I was twelve …!

 

It was fine, it was cool, it was fine… I'd just pray for a later growth spurt! I still had time!!

 

“Umm… Kagami-chan?”

 

I snapped out of my depressive funk when Inko gestured for the tin of bamboo shoots in my hand. “Ahhh! Sorry!” I passed them over, shifting to the side so we could stroll down the aisle together. “I guess I'm just a little out of it.”

 

“Because of the exam?” Inko smiled knowingly and I sheepishly rubbed my neck, ignoring the second glances I got for the fire flickering at my throat. In a Quirk society, people still found something to stare at. “Izuku-kun is the same.”

 

“How's he coping?” I laughed. “His dream within reach!”

 

“He's terrified and, I suppose, so am I… it'll break his heart if-”

 

I settled a hand on her shoulder, twisting to let an older gentleman past, and tried to smile as reassuring as possible. “Izuku will do great, Auntie. I have every faith in him.”

 

Guilt twisted my stomach behind my smile. Inko didn't even know what was coming-

 

But it wasn't my place to tell her, nevermind that I wasn't supposed to know either.

 

My phone beeped and I back away quickly. “Sorry, Auntie, but Kaa-san has dinner on and she needs this oil now! I'll see you for tea on Saturday! Say hi to Izuku for me!”

 

Inko blinked rapidly before that familiar, maternal smile warmed her face. “Good evening, Kagami-chan.”

 

………………………………………………………………….

 

In the days leading up to the Entrance Exam, Katsuki trained like a demon and I matched him blow for blow. We skipped karate and I let sensei know I wouldn't be coming in for fencing. The instructor understood and wished me the best, passing on Miharu and some of the other boy's 'good luck's.

 

On the day before the exam, Katsuki and I limited ourselves to light exercise and stretches, so that we'd be loose and limber for the next morning but not overtired or sore.

 

Kaa-san opened the door when a delivery for dad arrived, hissing swears (which were actually triumphant instead of a complaint about how much the fucking parcel weighed) and  staggering into the living room to dumping it on the coffee table. Which creaked ominously.

 

Just coming in from the garden, where we'd had a light spar (honestly, it was a normal fight but without Quirks and, compared to Katsuki's opinion of normal matches? Yeah, it was light), panting lightly and flushed, I padded closer to the mysterious box.

 

“Something new for Papa again?” I guessed, head cocked as I took in our mum's smug expression, her hands on hips and legs strong. 

 

“Masaru! It's here!” Dad’s office door opened and there was the shuffling of his house slippers on the wooden floors, before the man himself appeared around the corner. Suddenly, a scowl warped mum's smooth face. “About bloody time too! Almost too late, I'll have to file a fucking complaint-”

 

Nodding along, dad fished the pen from behind his ear, stabbing it through the thick, brown parcel tape securing the tabs and dragging it through the seam. The box opened to reveal a bunch of package paper, crumpled up to protect the contents.

 

Half a step behind me, Katsuki leaned to watch over my shoulder as our folks started babbling about the difficulties of getting hold of the office, apply for my extenuating circumstances (well, that was fucking news to me, I shared a blank glance with Katsuki out the corner of our eyes), even as they fished through the fillers to bring up-

 

“Ta-dah!” 

 

Katsuki and I turned back to our folks, both of them holding a black tank top and thigh-length cyclist shorts each.

 

“Er-”

 

“It's for you to wear to the exam! Both of you!”

 

“What the fuck ?” Katsuki and I said in tandem, mine spoken dubiously with my brother jerking his chin back in (angry) confusion.

 

“Don't tell me you want us in matching outfits, like some weird kind of Team Bakugou moment?” I groaned, scrubbing bare hands over my face and closing my eyes against the warm flames bathing my skin. The fires went out as soon as they started, tiny and controlled and they didn't even bother me anymore. It was a fact of life. Good news though? My skin was just as clear as Kaa-san's ( fuck you, period breakout! Try it, I dare you!).

 

“No! They're fucking Hero issue fireproof, brats!” Kaa-san jerked a thumb at me. “Kagami's Quirk would see her naked in the middle of an fucking exam surrounded by strangers, and fucking hormonal ones too, so the school provided these. The second pair is officially also Kaga’s but it was only recorded down under ‘Bakugou’, so there will be no shitty shenanigans on my watch kids! Those teen's will have to fucking go through me .”

 

I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing.

 

“W-will Katsu even fucking fit?? He's so much taller than me!”

 

Unfortunately, it was true. My younger twin had the audacity to tower a solid 8 fucking inches over my 5ft ass

 

The Bastard?!

 

I was actually...so relieved, Katsuki's height aside. After the incident at the beach...well, I'd not really thought about what will inevitably happen to my clothes when I push my fire to the max.

 

Naked in front of  my future peers, on screen for the watching teachers and with the possibility of Grape-Head watching?!? I don't fucking think so -

 

“You guys are the best!!” I squealed, slapping Katsuki between the shoulders and shoving his outfit into his hands. “Let's try them on!”

 

Seeing as I'd worn a bodysuit and gloves since I was four, the stretchy material wasn't foreign.

 

My bare arms were.

 

I had tan lines, especially now that I was older and had started shifting between styles of gloves, and it wasn't like I wasn't used to seeing my own skin, ghostly pale with bluish veins.

 

Before , my grandmother had had Spanish roots and her deep, olive undertones had persisted in my mother, my sisters and I.

 

I'd never been this pale…(except once, when I'd been violently sick and it was like a ghost was staring back at me in the mirror). It was different, in my room getting changed or when I was bathing.

 

In the light of day…

 

“Oh, Kaga,” Papa turned from where he was loitering at the foot of the stairs, Hazel eyes soft when they caught sight of my bared arms, the skintight shorts clinging to just above my knee. “Let's see you,” 

 

I carefully sidestepped the hand reaching to touch my shoulder, lips quirking up in a wiry attempt at a smile. “No touching, remember?”

 

Kaa-san, still waiting by the sofa, sighed.

 

“Are you sure, kid?”

 

I frowned, concentrating on my arms (Katsuki had one said that activating his Quirk was like forcing heat into his palms, so I'd always tried the opposite) and slowly dragging a hand up my left one, from wrist to shoulder.

 

The flames that sprung up were tiny, millimetres tall and disappearing almost as soon as the area had ignited.

 

“I'll ask Katsuki when he comes down.” I bit the inside of my cheek.

 

Speak of the devil and, a scant second later, we all heard the opening of Katsuki's door.

 

When his thighs, much more tanned (and hairy) than mine appeared at the top of the stairs, I immediately diffused the solemn atmosphere by, you guessed it, bursting out in giggles.

 

“Oh my fucking god, someone grab a bloody camera!”

 

“Shut the fuck up, Kagami!” Katsu howled, stomping down the stairs and slinging around the end of the banister to fling himself at my hunched form.

 

Instead of dodging, I just grabbed his hands, lanced our fingers, and took the resulting explosion with barely a blink. Katsuki's hands, at the very least, wouldn't burst into flames. And blisters? He'd deserve it.

 

“Oh hell, that's a very cheeky amount of thigh there, Katsu! Are you sure you're publicly decent?”

 

My brother merely snarled, the tank top skimming low at the collar and stretched tight over his chest and much broader shoulders. His shorts, well...where mine covered my entire thigh and came up to securely mould against my trim waist, Katsuki's left considerably less to the imagination. And, seeing as they were already skintight? I think you get the picture.

 

“W-we,” I howled, arms weak in my mirth and barely holding off my snarling brother. Sensing a fight, I started backing up towards the garden door. “We got these to protect my m-modesty-” wheezing, I kicked open the door behind me as my twin popped another explosion, “-and instead, we just put Katsuki's in danger!!”

 

If I wasn't mistaken, mum had started laughing too.

 

We'd made it out onto the lawn when my arms gave in, pitching me towards the taller blonde's chest with tears streaming down my cheeks.

 

I had about one second of safety, cheek cushioned just under Katsuki's collarbone as I wheezed through the stitch in my side.

 

And then hands wrapped around my upper arms, bare skin on skin, and threw me away.

 

My arms burst into flames, cherry red and licking up to bath warmth across my shoulders and neck. I-I hadn't been paying attention so the fire seemed even stronger, spreading towards my underarm sweat glands and my inner elbow, as if it could ignite itself-

 

That my Quirk could grow stronger like that was...terrifying.

 

I hadn't really experimented too much since my electrocution, hyper-aware of my family's watchful gaze, besides the usual sparks between my fingers. Could...could firepower build up or was this just last of maturing? Like when Katsuki created new techniques-

 

My brother batting the flames from his hands, palms already stained an angry pink, before throwing himself towards me with a snarl.

 

The effect was rather ruined by his hilariously skimpy attire.

 

A punch met my forearm, skirting it to the side in a secure block. The thump of flesh on flesh was new though, and my arm once more lit up scarlet on impact.

 

I immediately backed away.

 

“Katsuki,” I cautioned, low and serious. “The exam is tomorrow and we could injure ourselves - burns aren't gonna go away overnight-”

 

A handful of grass, clumps of dirt and all, was lobbed at my head. Behind us, Kaa-san's laughter abruptly cut off at the damage to her garden.

 

“Oi, you're gonna fucking fix that, brat!”

 

“Fine, Kaga,” Katsuki ignored our enraged mother and stepped back. Despite the angry blush still staining his ears and high on his cheekbones, the red scorch marks trailing over his fists, he was grinning. Combing grass from the bangs tucked behind my ears, I was immediately set on guard. “Rematch, Saturday.”

 

If the exam went as fucking awful as I feared, I might need the distraction.

 

My grin stretched and wide as his as I stooped to pluck the clump of turf and toss it to my twin, who ducked and jammed it back into the ground. Behind us, Kaa-san growled that that didn't count as fixing it.

 

“Deal.”

 

As one, we headed back to the house, our parents crowding around the door. “Oh, and Katsuki?” I blinked, twisting to smirk up at my twin’s mullish expression. “If you ruin your top tomorrow, at least you won't be flashing nipple to the other-”

 

Katsuki swiped at me, growling when I ducked inside.

 

Kaga !”








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