There is something wrong with Itsuka; even Mei can see that. Ever since her girlfriend returned from her internship, Itsuka has seemed so… deflated. Most of the students on the Hero Course have been gushing about their internships since they moment they returned to school, but not Itsuka. Yeah, there’s clearly something wrong.
So at lunchtime, Mei undertakes the task of tracking her down. She races out of her classroom the moment class has ended (still wearing some of her babies: this time a set of gauntlets to help Heroes stick to walls as they climb), running through the crowded corridors of UA to where Class 1-B should be leaving their lesson. But by the time she arrives, only Tetsutetsu remains, strolling out the classroom and texting on his phone.
“Uh, Tetsutetsu,” Mei says, trying to get his attention.
The boy’s head jerks up and he blushes, shoving his phone into his pocket. “Oh, hey, Hatsume. What’s up?”
Mei smiles, realising that he was obviously texting Kirishima, his boyfriend from the other Hero class. Tetsu sees this expression on her face and raises his eyebrows.
“Yes, I’m texting him. So what?”
“Nothing. I just think it’s kind of cute.”
“I’m not cute!” Tetsu yells, turning his hands to steel as Mei laughs.
When he calms down, he says, “So, is there a reason you’ve come over here? Are you looking for your girlfriend?”
Mei sighs. “Yeah, actually. Have you seen her?”
Tetsu shakes his head. “She left the room first, so I don’t know where she’s gone. Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine,” Mei says, and she trails off to locate Itsuka in another area of the school.
Mei trails around the school for most of her lunch break, even though she’s getting hungry and her babies are making her hands ache (these gadgets definitely need some work to make them more efficient.
But eventually, she finds Itsuka. Her girlfriend is sat in an empty classroom on the third floor, sat on a desk with her school bag on her lap and her arms folded. Not wanting to make her jump, Mei knocks on the door and waits for Itsuka to notice her.
“Hi,” Mei says, walking into the room.
Itsuka smiles weakly. “Hi.”
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
“Sorry. I just needed some time alone.”
“Itsuka, what’s wrong?” Mei says, walking over and perching on the desk beside her. “Ever since you came back from your internship, you’ve looked miserable. Do you want to talk?”
Itsuka says nothing, instead shrugging her shoulders. She ducks her head, screwing her eyes up.
“No, please don’t cry,” Mei says, her stomach clenching. She reaches out her hand, but Itsuka flinches away. “I don’t understand. What’s the matter? Please, you can tell me.”
Her girlfriend doesn’t open her eyes, but she nods her head slightly. And her voice is tiny as she says, “It was awful.”
“What was?” Mei says, putting her hand on Itsuka’s shoulder; she doesn’t flinch this time.
“My internship. She… she just picked us because we’re pretty. All we did was help her with commercials. We didn’t do any real Hero work. It just… it made me feel like a mannequin, not a Hero in training. And I…” Itsuka trails off, sighing shakily.
Mei stares at her. That does sound horrible. So she steps forwards and wraps her arms around her girlfriend.
“I’m sorry it was so useless,” she says. “But you’ll get other internships where they actually appreciate your powers. It’ll be okay. I promise.”
Itsuka slumps against her. “Thank you. I… I love you, Mei.”
“I love you too,” Mei whispers, carefully rubbing her girlfriend’s back and glad she could offer support in any way she can.