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The Road To Tomorrow

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A week after graduation, Ochako borrowed an old pickup truck from her cousin and drove over to Tsuyu's house. When she rang the doorbell, she could hear tiny feet stomping down the hall and the thin high-pitched cry of a child - the tell-tale signs of domestic chaos.

All of a sudden, the door burst open and Ochako barely had a moment to brace herself before a crying child tackled into her stomach. Close on his heels, another child with pigtail bolted out, yelling,

“Samidare, get back here-”

“No, I don’t want Tsuyu to go to Kobe!” Samidare, the boy who had wrapped his arms around Ochako’s stomach, wailed. His sister, Asui Satsuki, looked helplessly up at Ochako. Then she pivoted back into the house, shouting for her big sister.

“Tsuyu! The pretty gravity girl is here!”

Ochako flushed.

“You’re here!” Tsuyu popped out the front door, looking frazzled, but still devastatingly cute in her blue frog print t-shirt. She had pinned her long dark hair in a messy bun and her eyes widened at the sight of Ochako holding her brother. “Oh, here, Samidare-”

“No, it’s okay.” Ochako smiled as she crouched down. With her handkerchief, she carefully wiped the tears from Samidare’s cheeks. He sniffled and looked up when she put both her hands on his thin shoulders.

"I know Tsuyu-chan is going far away, but it's because your big sister is going to become a great hero in Kobe. It's going to be hard for her too, so she'll be looking to you for support. Can you do that for her?"

He blew his nose loudly into her handkerchief before managing to croak, “Okay…”

His sister then pulled him back into the house and, despite her own red-rimmed eyes, instructed him to help bring boxes out to the front. Tsuyu watched as her siblings squabble, the fondness in her eyes tinged with a little sadness.

“Hey.” Ochako sidled up to her friend, nudging her with a smile. “Doing okay?”   

"He doesn't normally cry like that. I'm glad that he didn't hold it in until after I left." Tsuyu murmured to Ochako. The two of them got to work as well, carrying Tsuyu’s life possessions to the truck.

"You've been taking care of them since you were young, right? It must be hard for all of you."

Ochako never had siblings, but she wasn’t unfamiliar with having a tight knit family. However, her new sidekick position was still in the heart of Shinjuku, not a full ten hours by bus to the south. Even when she was at UA, she had been surrounded by her friends and her teachers.

Ochako didn’t think she even knew anyone in Kobe.

Tsuyu nodded as they shoved the last of the boxes in. “I told Mom and Dad that they have to do better, kero . I don’t want Satsuki or Samidare to be deprived of a normal school life when I’m gone.”

Ochako thought of her parents, working long hours just for the tuition fees for UA, and squeezed Tsuyu’s hand in understanding.

After they loaded all the boxes into the truck, Ochako pretended to inspect her bags in order to give Tsuyu some privacy for her goodbyes. The three siblings hugged for a long time and Ochako could see Tsuyu murmuring words of encouragement to them. Samidare’s eyes still watered and Satsuki clutched the back of Tsuyu’s shirt for a long time, but when Ochako and Tsuyu backed out of the driveway, they both waved their short arms furiously until the truck turned the corner.

As they left her childhood home behind, Tsuyu rubbed away a couple lingering tears and turned in her seat to give Ochako a warm smile.

"Thanks again, Ochako-chan. Let’s have a fun road trip."

“O-of course.” Ochako stuttered, blood rushing to her cheeks, and in a fit of courage, she reached over the gearshift to briefly grip Tsuyu's hand with her own sweaty fingers, "I'm excited for you. But let’s enjoy ourselves before we get there!"

The smile Tsuyu gave her was a little too knowing for Ochako’s tastes, but she didn’t push. Instead, she turned up the old dial on the dashboard and soon Present Mic’s boisterous voice, familiar and grating as usual, filled their car.

 

Because they had a week before either of them had to start work, Ochako had planned for them to take a meandering route, skirting through the south of Nagano and hitting Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka. Then, Ochako could do the return trip to Tokyo on the expressway  in under a day. Originally, Midoriya, Iida, and Todoroki had planned to come, but both Midoriya and Iida had been knocked flat by the flu right after graduation. So instead, they agreed to meet halfway in Kyoto.

“We’ll take the Shinkansen, so don’t worry - we’ll probably get there before you.” Todoroki had told Uraraka over the phone. He had shot down any of Ochako’s suggestions to postpone their trip or to split the cost of the tickets. “We said we’d help and one-way tickets are easy to come by.”

“Having money must be nice.” Ochako had sighed.

So Ochako found herself in a car alone with Tsuyu. Which was fine. They were best friends after all. They had shared everything with each other. If Ochako had been nursing feelings for Tsuyu for the better part of three years, it hardly mattered.

Right?

The first day was not the exciting, post-graduation adventure Ochako hoped for. They spent most of the morning and afternoon stuck in Tokyo traffic. By the time they made it out of the city, it was long past lunch. They found a small roadside stand for skewers and ice cold green tea and chatted like it was just another day afterschool.

Later, they stopped for a short hike and marveled at the blinking lights of Tokyo in the distance. Hidden away from law enforcement, Tsuyu convinced Ochako to float them up higher than the trees with her quirk. With some careful positioning, the two of them ended up perched in a cypress like a couple of birds, eating cutlet sandwiches and drinking iced coffee. With the deep green of her hair, Tsuyu blended right into the forest.

Ochako’s laugh had echoed off the mountainsides.

When the sun had begun to set, Tsuyu decided to pull off the highway to look for their lodging for the night. A comfortable quiet had fallen between them, broken only by the radio playing old ballads from the 60s through the occasional static. Ochako had her cheek pressed against the glass and alternated between looking at the unmoving mountains and Tsuyu’s hands, steady on the wheel.

Away from the lights of the city, the darkness out in the countryside felt more absolute.

They ended up finding a cheap traditional hotel at the base of Mount Kazakoshi. Despite being a ryokan , the room they reserved was more Western-style with a single bed and a shower. They had arrived too late for any local restaurants to still be open, so the concierge helpfully directed them to a 24 hour convenience store.

The inside of the FamilyMart was almost blindingly bright after walking down the streets with no street lights. The two of them picked up bentos, several bags of snacks, and drinks. Ochako paused in the bakery aisle, where one single yakisoba pan remained. Before she could protest, Tsuyu put that and a hot dog bread in their basket.

“It’s past our meal budget.” Ochako protested as Tsuyu also grabbed the strawberry cream cake she was eyeing.

Undeterred, Tsuyu dumped their whole basket at the register. “Ochako-chan, you’re coming all this way to help me move- at least let me treat you once.”

Ochako flushed and mumbled, feeling self-conscious, “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. You deserve nice things. Like eating this cheap cake while we lie in bed.” Tsuyu said bluntly. “Truly a life of luxury.”

Ochako smiled at that one and relented while laughing, “And are you going to feed me that cake in bed?”

“Your highness.” Tsuyu did a mock curtsy, eyes crinkled at the corners. When she only requested one spoon, however, Ochako turned her head away fast, trying to pretend she didn’t notice.

So what if they shared utensils? That was normal for best friends. There was no point in looking into it.

It was her 600 yen secret.

 

They got settled in for the night, taking turns brushing their teeth and changing into their pjs. Ochako noticed Tsuyu eyeing the AC with distrust and, after some haggling, they settled into a sleeping arrangement - Tsuyu under the sheets and Ochako stretched out over them.

“I don’t understand how you’re not literally boiling under there.” Ochako murmured as she flopped back onto the bed after turning off the lights. The moonlight peeked through the blinds and fell in bands over the patterned coverlet where Tsuyu was buried. “I’m sweating just thinking about it.”

Tsuyu rolled onto her side to face Ochako, swaddled in the blanket. There was a hint of laughter in her voice. “I don’t actually sweat that much. It’s a frog thing. It’s why my skin’s always a little damp.”

"Wait, really?" Ochako had noticed that her friend ran a little cool to the touch before, certainly, but this was new to her. Without thinking, she reached out and touched the soft skin of Tsuyu's cheek. "Oh, yeah. I guess you are a little moist. I always thought you were just well hydrated."

Tsuyu laughed softly. "Well, that too. Don’t want to turn into frog jerky."

The darkness made Ochako bold and she rolled onto her side to get better access. The rough calluses on her fingers from years of quirk training made Tsuyu’s cheeks feel like silk in comparison.

"I can't believe I never knew that." Ochako murmured. How long had they slept in futons on class trips across from each other? How many times had they held hands, fingers intertwined in friendship?

She used her thumb to trace under Tsuyu's closed eyes, swiping right against the cheekbone. When Tsuyu sighed involuntarily, the warmth of her breath ghosted across Ochako's mouth. Tsuyu reached up to tuck a lock of Ochako's hair behind her ear and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

“Ochako-chan, thanks for coming. To be honest, I think… I’ve been a little scared of this move. Of being alone.” Tsuyu whispered. Ochako watched her open her mouth, as if to say more, but then Tsuyu gently cupped Ochako’s hand that rested on her cheek. The uncharacteristic hesitance made Ochako’s throat close up. “But I’m glad you came with me.”

She could see Tsuyu’s eyes, large and dark, blinking up at her. It reminded her of how they had lain next to each other during training camps, whispering about their worries and dreams for the future. Back then, the idea of saying goodbye had never crossed their conversations.

“Me too. I mean, you’re really brave. To move all by yourself.” Ochako choked out. As if sensing her nerves, Tsuyu dropped her hand and let her eyes flutter close. Heart squeezing, Ochako let herself one more caress, knowing this would be the last time. Tomorrow, the boys would join them and, while Ochako loved them, it wasn’t the same.

“Good night, Ochako-chan.”

“Good night.” It was too intimate to be staring at Tsuyu’s face, slack with sleep, and so Ochako rolled back over to face the edge of the bed. Despite being on top of the covers, her whole body felt overheated and she curled her knees up to her chest.

 

The next day, an hour from Kyoto, the storm that had been following them finally broke. The deep clouds that had hung overhead all weekend crashed over the highways and heavy raindrops pounded on the top of their truck. The howling wind shook Ochako awake and she watched the world outside their truck melt into water.

"Should we stop?" She asked Tsuyu, blinking blearily up at her, nerves bleeding into her voice. When she looked out the window, she couldn’t even see their own headlights or the edge of the road.

"Yeah, tell me if you see a place to pull over. I don't want to stop in the middle of the road." Tsuyu croaked, her brow pinched in concentration. Despite the terrifying storm outside, she steered the car forward calmly. In her careful hands, Ochako’s anxieties eased a little.

After a couple more minutes, Ochako spotted an empty school parking lot and they pulled in, just as the rain had begun to smash down in entire sheets. Tsuyu killed the engine and then turned in her seat, looking excited.

“Now that you’re awake, want to go out?”

“Wait, what? Like. Out there?” Ochako gestured at the window where it looked like the sea had come back to reclaim its islands. When she looked back, however, Tsuyu had already started tugging off her yellow socks and white converses. Ochako froze as their eyes met.

Then she tugged off her seatbelt with determination.

Tsuyu grinned. Once Ochako was barefoot too, wiggling her toes against the wiry mat of the truck, they both gripped their respective door handles.  

“This is crazy.” Ochako whispered before cracking up.

Tsuyu’s eyes were dark and knowing as she whispered back, “I know.”

On the count of three, they pushed their doors open.

At once, rain smacked into Ochako, peeling off the truck door and splashing into her face. She shrieked as she quickly tumbled out into the lot, trying to shut the door behind her. She couldn’t see Tsuyu, but she could hear her loud, hoarse laugh from around the truck even as the rain thundered around them.

“This is crazy!” Ochako screamed again before breaking into a smile so broad that her chilled cheeks started to hurt. Barefoot on crumbling asphalt, she stumbled around the truck, only to collide into Tsuyu. Wet hands gripped her elbows, keeping her from toppling over. Rain streamed over her eyelashes and she had to blink hard to even see Tsuyu.

“It feels amazing!” Tsuyu yelled back before tilting her head back and opening her mouth to gurgle rainwater.

Ochako laughed until she was dizzy with happiness.

“Isn’t this wonderful? It’s the first spring rain, Ochako-chan.” Tsuyu’s warm hands slid up Ochako’s clammy arms and she accidentally stepped onto Tsuyu’s feet, cold bare toes curling against slick skin. When she looked over, Tsuyu’s hair was a dripping curtain slapping against her back, but she looked so, so pleased-

At the sight of Tsuyu grinning up at her, Ochako’s heart pounded in her ears. She realized they were in each other’s arms, with Tsuyu’s knees knocking gently against Ochako’s. Longing rose in her stomach and, before she could help herself, she glanced down at Tsuyu’s mouth.

I want to hold her closer.

“Tsuyu-chan-” Ochako choked out as her body, soaked in spring rain, moved without her permission. She drew closer, her hands trembling as they came to rest on Tsuyu’s hips. “Can I-?”

“Yes.” Tsuyu’s eyes shone bright and she licked her lips, making Ochako shiver. And because Tsuyu always told the truth, Ochako believed her.

For just these precious moments, the rain seemed to wash her mind free. So she let herself lean in with her cold cheeks and Tsuyu’s warm breath on her lips.

It’s okay.

 

Despite the setbacks due to the storm, Tsuyu and Ochako managed to pull up to the JR station in Kyoto right on time. Ochako texted the boys and watched as a stream of businessmen with black umbrellas frantically poured out of the station, while Tsuyu dug through their luggage for towels.

They hadn’t talked about what happened. Even now, she couldn’t peel her eyes away from Tsuyu’s damp hair stuck to her back. Nor could she stop thinking about how warm her mouth was and how the tenderly Tsuyu had cupped her cheeks. It made her heart pitter-patter like raindrops.  

They had clung to each other in the rain, slipping and sliding, laughing through their kisses. But then, as they had slid back into the truck, divided by the gearshift, something had changed. Tsuyu didn’t quite look her in the eye, face flushed and breathing fast. Whenever Ochako tried to open her mouth to talk about it, her courage would fail her.

“How far from Kobe are we?” Tsuyu asked, all of a sudden, and, damn , that hurt. Ochako, flustered, began to fumble with her phone.

“Um, well, we could probably reach there in an hour, if traffic isn’t bad.”

A knock on the window startled Ochako so hard that she jumped and cracked her head on the ceiling of the car. “Ouch!”

“Are you okay?” Tsuyu exclaimed as Ochako spun in her seat to angrily look for the culprits. The irritation faded, however, when she saw Midoriya, Iida, and Todoroki looking through the window and looking apologetic.

“You finally made it!” Ochako threw the door open so fast it almost knocked over Midoriya. Tsuyu came over as well, and the five of them exchanged hugs and greetings.

“Did you guys see that storm? It was crazy- the Shinkansen was moving so fast that it looked like it was raining sideways.” Midoriya swept the two of them off their feet for a hug. Despite his pale complexion, he looks far more energetic for someone who had spent the last week bedridden.

“Tsuyu-kun, Ochako-kun, you’re soaked! You’re going to catch a cold like this.” Iida exclaimed after a sodden group hug.

“Todoroki-chan, let us borrow your left side.” Tsuyu said. Todoroki grumbled a little, still looking half-asleep, but when Iida nudged him, he heated up his left hand obligingly. Their dripping clothes steamed under his palm.

“What did you guys do? Swim through the downpour?” Midoriya asked, looking confused, and Ochako turned bright pink. Tsuyu chuckled softly to herself and scratched at her cheek with a hint of embarrassment.

“Something like that, kero .”

 

Just as the evening stretched on, the five of them piled into the truck. Ochako pulled them onto the Meishin Expressway, heading towards Kobe. Instead of stopping for a full dinner, Uraraka and Midoriya wheedled Iida into buying food from the convenience store to tide them over. With all three boys squished in the back seat, chattering away with Tsuyu, and the heady smell of fried chicken filling the truck, Ochako didn’t notice the blinking light over the gas tank until Todoroki nonchalantly pointed it out.

“Shit!” Ochako cursed, promptly flooring it for the next exit. Tsuyu laughed as Midoriya’s eyes went wide and Iida flattened himself against the door, warbling warnings about the speed limit. Todoroki stiffened just a fraction, but Tsuyu could see in the rearview mirror his white knuckled grip on Midoriya’s knee.

“You’ll get used to Ochako-chan’s aggressive driving, kero .” She told them.

“I’m a great driver.” Ochako said through gritted teeth as the van in front of them cut her off. Tsuyu just smiled.

She coasted into the nearest station with less than a quarter gallon of gas left and winced as she saw the gas prices. After reluctantly feeding the station her card, she popped her head back into the truck to announce, “We’ll be there in another fifteen minutes-”

“Shhh, look.” Tsuyu held a finger up to her lips and pointed. Ochako craned her head around to see that all three boys had fallen asleep in the back, sprawled over each other and the boxes. Iida’s head had lolled back onto Todoroki’s shoulder, mouth open in mid-snore, while Midoriya had curled up into a tight ball, squished between Todoroki’s stomach and a box.

“We have to get a photo.” Ochako whispered and Tsuyu nodded, a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. Iida’s loud snore made them jump, before they succumbed to a fit of giggles. Tsuyu pulled Ochako halfway across the armrest for the selfie and Ochako refused to think too hard about how she leaned into Tsuyu’s large and firm hand at her elbow. Instead, she let herself press her cheek to Tsuyu’s, soft and warm, to shuffle the two of them into frame.

The loud snap of the camera didn’t even disturb the sleeping boys and that only made Ochako laugh harder. She tried to hide it, dropping her face into Tsuyu’s shoulder, and ended up breathing in the scent of her long and straight hair.

Tsuyu smelled of sea salt and cucumber and something she once jokingly had called ‘frog’- a peanut-like scent that’s uniquely hers.

“Oh, I’m definitely printing this one out and hanging this one up.” Tsuyu sounded pleased. With her face pressed close to her shoulder, Ochako could feel her steady breathing, “Here, take a look.”

It was a good photo, despite the grainy lighting. Ochako’s and Tsuyu’s faces filled up the bottom of the frame, pressed cheek to cheek, their delight clear in their expressions. The boys formed a heap in the background, tangled to the point that Ochako couldn’t tell which arm belonged to who.

“Send it to me.” Ochako murmured even as her heart squeezed hard and her throat tightened. She lingered, head still on Tsuyu’s shoulder, staring at the photo.

They looked so young. Over the last several months, they hadn’t had this- this fun. All of a sudden, Ochako wanted to forget Tokyo, forget Kobe, and just to peel off the road. She wanted them to stay together forever, living off prepackaged bento and vending machine coffee.

Earlier in the rain suddenly wasn’t enough and she wanted to press kiss after kiss to Tsuyu’s cheeks. She didn’t want Tsuyu to leave her behind. But with the boys slumbering nearby, she didn’t dare to do anything.  

“Ochako-chan, are you okay?” Tsuyu asked when the silence stretched out and Ochako couldn’t bring herself to move her head. One of Tsuyu’s large and warm hands reached up to card through her hair and it was so nice that it made Ochako want to cry. She had to say something, after all this time.

“Tsuyu-chan-”

They were both startled by a loud kthunk from outside as the tank finished filling up.

The noise brought Ochako back to herself. Everyone was tired. Tsuyu was going to have her dream job in Kobe and Ochako, in Tokyo. She knew that she was lucky, lucky to have money, lucky to have friends, lucky to have these moments recorded in photos. So she straightened up, ignoring Tsuyu’s concerned looks, and ducked out of the car.

A minute later, Ochako pulled them back on the expressway, headlights flashing. She could feel Tsuyu’s steady and questioning gaze, but, aside from Iida’s deep snores, they kept their silence until Kobe.

 

Tsuyu’s new place in Kobe was beautiful. It was an actual house, for one, with a well-tended garden and an elderly lady that had been living alone after her daughter moved out. Apparently the daughter had been one of Tsuyu’s family friends, so her mother had been more than happy to rent out the entire second floor to Tsuyu. Uraraka and Midoriya stared wide-eyed at the amount of space while Todoroki and Tsuyu were already in deep discussion about how to furnish the room.

“Nerds.” Midoriya whispered to Ochako, fondly, and even as she laughed, something in her heart twisted. She hadn’t been able to smile normally today and it pained her that, on their last days together, she couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen after they left.

Tsuyu had never given any indication they wouldn’t keep in touch. They both were vigorous LINE users and surely, Tsuyu had to come back to Tokyo occasionally to see her family. Would Ochako be content with that, those snatches of time, where they would just reminisce about the old days before not seeing each other for another year?

“Ochako-kun, are you coming?” Iida called from downstairs as he carried two boxes on each arm into the foyer. The landlord tittered in admiration. Ochako and Tsuyu exchanged an amused look. Old ladies loved Iida.

That, at least, never changed.

 

The next day, the five of them crammed into the entryway to say their goodbyes. Tsuyu was unusually subdued, trying to force a smile.

“Don’t forget to eat your vegetables and to get eight hours of sleep a night to keep you alert during the day. ” Iida told her sternly and gave her a hug that lifted her clean off her feet.

“Okay, dad .” Tsuyu sniffled. Midoriya was next, and he folded her into a hug, whispering something Ochako couldn’t catch. Tsuyu nodded, however, as they pulled apart and Midoriya started crying in earnest. Ochako handed him her handkerchief.

Todoroki stepped forward and, to their surprise, gave her a short, but tight hug.

“I learned a lot from you while we were in UA. If you ever need us, don’t hesitate to call.” He said, serious-faced even now, and Tsuyu noded back solemnly.

“Thank you, Todoroki-chan. And if you ever need me, you’ll reach out, right?” Tsuyu replied pointedly, a hint of mirth in her eyes.

Todoroki blinked, taken aback, and then let out a chuckle, humbled. “Yes. I’ll send you more than a location pin. Promise.”

Midoriya elbowed him hard in the ribs, looking pink.

Then it was just Ochako and Tsuyu. Midoriya shot a meaningful look at Iida and Todoroki, but when they just looked back at him, confused, he ended up pushing them bodily out the door. “We’ll wait by the car.” He declared to Ochako, who wanted to melt on the spot in embarrassment.

“Subtle.” Tsuyu said when the door slams shut behind them.

“Boys.” Ochako grumbled. She couldn’t hold onto her exasperation for long though, not when Tsuyu looked at her with a sad, wide smile. When she held out her arms, Ochako ran into them without second thought.

“I’m going to miss you so much.” Tsuyu sniffled as she buried her nose into the crook of Ochako’s neck. Her hands clutched at Ochako’s shirt so that she could feel each shuddering breath Ochako took. “More than anyone else.”

Ochako’s own throat tightened. Tell her! One side of her screamed. But how could she do that, right as they were leaving? Instead, Ochako hugged her harder, trying to pour her feelings into her arms. It felt like her heart was breaking.

“Me too.”

 

Ochako remained quiet as they started the drive back to Tokyo. Iida and Todoroki were in the backseat, supposedly planning a possible detour to some famous hot spring, but she found it hard to bring herself to care. She nodded along to Midoriya’s attempts at chit-chat, not hearing a word he was saying. Outside, it had begun to drizzle just enough to turn on the wipers. As she watched the other headlights through the misty haze, she couldn’t help but remember the storm and the school parking lot. Of Tsuyu’s eyelashes speckled with raindrops and the warmth of her mouth.

Her heart twisted.

“We’ll see her again soon. She’ll be one of the top pros before we know it.” Midoriya said and perhaps he had meant for it to be comforting, but Uraraka flinched instead. Something inside her chest snapped and she opened her mouth before she could stop herself.

“I kissed her.”

Midoriya made an aborted gurgling noise while Iida’s dramatic gasp filled the car. Todoroki looked up from his phone in the back, startled by the noise. The silence stretched out for a solid minute as Ochako tried to focus on the foggy road ahead.

“Are you together now?” Iida asked, hesitantly.

“I don’t know.” Ochako muttered. She didn’t need to look over to know that Midoriya was gaping at her and it was uncomfortable. Frustrated tears began to prick at Ochako’s eyes. Part of her seemed unable to stay rooted in her body and she found herself speaking without thinking. “We kissed and then I told her I didn’t want to talk about it and now she’s gone in Kobe-”

“I’m sorry-” Midoriya sounded stricken. “We didn’t mean to pry.”

For some reason, that comment only plucked her heartstrings more. It was like Midoriya expected her to know what she was doing, when she had no idea. Ochako’s voice raised in pitch as she retorted, “There’s nothing to pry into! It’s not like anything came of it apparently.”

“Uraraka-”

Once she started, she didn’t know how to stop. The tears flowed freely down her cheeks now. “I messed it all up! I can’t leave my family in Tokyo but I can’t ask her to give Kobe up, so that’s that, right? I’m supposed to be this cool and strong pro hero who knows what she wants, but I don’t know and now it’s too late-”

“The light-!” Todoroki cut her off as they barreled towards a red light intersection full of traffic.

“Shit!”

Snapping back to attention, Ochako slammed on the brakes. Everyone was flung forward with a harsh jerk and squeal of the wheels. The cars behind them honked angrily as they skidded to a stop, a meter from the cross-traffic.  

Ochako’s breaths came in short and harsh, heart pounding and hands sweaty on the wheel. The adrenaline thrumming through her body gave her just enough control to stop the tears as she remembered how to breathe. Iida slumped down in his seat, pale, while Midoriya gave her a worried look.

“Do you want me to drive?” He offered hesitantly. Ochako shook her head and scrubbed at her face.

“N-no, sorry. I’ll be fine in a moment.” Ochako lied. Her heart ached and she felt raw, exposed, to the others in the truck. She never wanted them to see her like this, with all her insecurities laid out. She was supposed to be Uravity, someone who leapt weightlessly through the sky to help those in need.

Instead she felt like her quirk had been erased and she was plummeting back to the earth, shackles around her ankles.  

“We can stop talking about it, if you want.” Midoriya added, a little helplessly. She could see Iida frantically whispering to Todoroki in the rearview mirror, clearly at a loss for what to do. Todoroki wasn’t faring much better, wearing a pinched expression while shaking his head. It would almost make Ochako laugh, if she wasn’t busy trying not to let out another sob.  

Tsuyu would just tell her the truth.

You’re afraid. That’s okay, Ochako-chan. I’m scared too. Graduation, growing up, our careers, all of that is scary.

“Deku-kun, what should I do?” Her voice came out wobbly.

“...I don’t know. You know your own feelings best.” Midoriya murmured and he put a gentle hand on her shoulder. She could see him glance back at Iida and Todoroki for support, before adding, “You know Tsuyu best.”

“Uravity.” Todoroki’s usage of her hero name startled her and she met his steady gaze in the rearview mirror. “What do you want to do?”

Oh.

“I… want to tell her that I really love her.” Ochako hiccuped. Something in her chest unraveled and, at last, she felt like she could breathe. “I want to be honest with her… and with myself.”

The light ahead turned green, but Ochako found herself pausing, foot hovering over the gas pedal. The boys looked behind them nervously as the other drivers began to honk at them. “Uraraka-kun?”

We’re scared. But when have we ever let that stop us?

For the first time in a long time, Ochako felt truly weightless again. Taking a moment, she scrubbed away the last of her tears and gripped the steering wheel so tight that her knuckles turned white.

“Hold on.” She said. Her calm voice cut across the car and the boys looked up in surprise. The clarity that settled on her mind almost scared her.

Ochako floored it.

The truck swung into a tight u-turn, just barely edging in front of the oncoming traffic. In the back, Iida clung onto the doorframe and shrieked, “Have you lost your mind?”

Ochako paid him no heed. The tires of the truck squealed as they raced back the way they came, back to Kobe.

Back to Tsuyu.

 

She pulled them into the driveway and jumped out the door with the key still in the ignition. Just as she had rung the doorbell, the first fat drops began to come down in earnest and hit Ochako square in the forehead. Yet, despite the rain and the chill it brought, Ochako’s skin burned hot and the blood in her ears pounded louder.

“Ochako-chan?”

She whirled around to see Tsuyu, standing in the garden holding a bucket, hair damp from the drizzle, lips parted in shock. Nothing had changed from the morning - it was still the same Tsuyu-chan, but Ochako felt her heart speed up at the sight of her. Her voice caught in her throat.

“You’re back?” Tsuyu looked puzzled as she turned to look at the truck with the boys awkwardly staring out the windows. “What’s wrong?”

But Ochako was a hero. So she forced her anxieties down into her stomach. “Tsuyu-chan, I came back because I needed to tell you something.”

Tsuyu’s eyes grew wide and she set down the bucket on the cobblestone. “Yes?”

“That day, when we- we kissed and then we never talked about it. It was because I was scared. And I’m sorry, because that was wrong of me.”

“...Ochako-chan, it’s okay. I was scared too.” Tsuyu’s voice softened and relief swelled up in Ochako’s heart again. The relief swiftly vanished however, when Tsuyu made a pained expression, “It doesn’t have to affect our friendship-”

“I love you.” Ochako blurted out.

Tsuyu froze.

“I came back to tell you. I realized, that I’d rather be terrified than never tell you how much I love you.” Her voice grew in pitch. “I love you and if you’ll have me-”

“Even if I’m here and you’re in Tokyo?”

“I’m Uravity and you’re Froppy. I’ll drive down here on the weekends. There’s LINE. At least, I want to try-”

“Okay.”

“-what?” Ochako was thrown, even as her heart began to beat in doubletime. Tsuyu beamed up at her. Beautiful, brilliant, blunt Tsuyu.

“I’ve been crazy about you for years, Ochako-chan. Of course I want to be with you.” Tsuyu opened her arms with a bashful smile.

Ochako was halfway down the stairs before she even realized. Then her sneaker slipped on the cobblestone and she started to trip.

Tsuyu was a hero too. She lunged forward and caught Ochako in her arms. Ochako’s heart skipped a beat as her hands gripped Tsuyu’s firm shoulders for balance. Then, shy, Ochako looked up to see Tsuyu right there, dark eyes wide and lips parted. Her heart pounded loud in her ears as their faces slipped just a couple inches closer. Ochako breathed, “You mean it?”

Around them, the rain began to fall in earnest. Water streamed down her hair, down her eyelashes. Tsuyu nodded before pressing her face into the crook of her neck, shaking.

“Can I tell you the truth?” Tsuyu murmured as her hands gripped Ochako’s back, fingers tracing her shoulder blades.

“Of course. Always.” Ochako babbled.

“I want to kiss you right now.”

Ochako’s mind went white with desire. Cheeks burning, heart pounding, she nodded.

Ochako couldn’t see Iida readying an umbrella and Todoroki a palm of flame. She couldn’t see Midoriya holding them both back in the car, even as he blew his nose into her handkerchief. She couldn’t see the sun’s light catching iridescent over the rain or the mud now covering her shoes.

No, all she could see was Tsuyu. Wet hair pulled back in a bun. Clammy calloused fingers cupping her pink cheeks. Two froggy eyes and a wide grin.

Then, a soft mouth pressed against hers, languid and tender, before pulling away for a second. Tsuyu’s hands were cold against her face but her mouth was so warm. Ochako blinked back tears.

“Hello again, Ochako-chan.” Tsuyu whispered against her lips.

“Hello to you too.” Ochako murmured, heart pounding. She wanted to memorize the curve of Tsuyu’s pink mouth, of how sweet the rain tasted on her lips. It made her think of hope, and the future.

So she did.