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love under scrutiny

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Meiko was a superhero geek, she could readily admit it. Her friends made fun of her sometimes, but Meiko remembered how Haruka had been starstruck for days after they accidentally met Ingenium at the grocery store that one time. So they had no right to talk!

But, as a self-proclaimed superhero geek, it wasn’t surprising that she was scrolling through superhero forums and news sites while waiting for her friends to show up. She was waiting in this cute cafe, that surprisingly didn’t have many patrons, which was a nice change from crowded superhero fights that Meiko often frequented. There were two people in the booth behind her, half hidden in the corner, but besides that, the cafe was empty.

Meiko kept scrolling, but her eyes unfocused and her mind wandered. Oh how she wished she had a useful quirk, a heroing quirk. She sighed. She wanted to be a bubbly yet cool and helpful hero like Uravity, or smart and sleek, like Creati. But no, she wasn’t hero material, she knew that. And deep down, she knew she didn’t even want to be a hero. She just wanted to help heroes, wanted to be in their orbit, and… She sighed again. They had to choose high schools soon, and she had no idea where she wanted to go. She would apply for UA, but she knew she wouldn’t get into the hero course. What other courses were there, she wondered. There was general, and uh… support?

Her thoughts wandered again, and instead of focusing back on her phone, her attention was taken by quiet voices behind her. She didn’t want to eavesdrop, but they were talking loud enough that she could hear them. So it surely wasn’t her fault?

“...you should be more careful," said a quiet, but firm voice, not unkindly.

“But I am careful,” the other replied, almost whiny, "you know I am."

“Sometimes,” the first voice conceded, "but not always. Especially not when other people’s lives are in danger."

The second voice murmured something too quiet for Meiko to hear. What were they talking about? Meiko felt herself straining her ears.

"I know . You want to help people. I do too, but…" there was a pause, and some shuffling could be heard, but then the first voice continued, "I can’t lose you, Izuku."

Izuku? That name tickled something in Meiko’s memory, but she was straining too much to hear the conversation to concentrate on that.

“And you won’t. I promise you Shouto, you won’t.”

Suddenly, Meiko’s whole body froze, and she spun around with realisation.

"Oh my God!" she blurted, "you are Deku and Shouto! You are together ?"

Two wide-eyed stares greeted her. The green haired man (“Deku, that’s pro hero Deku!” Meiko’s mind provided giddily) had his whole face blushing, while his companion (“Shouto!” Meiko’s mind screeched) glared at her, but the tips of his ears were quite red. He was trying to be subtle and not attract attention, Meiko guessed, since he was wearing a cap that hid most of his hair.

They stared at each other for a couple of seconds, Meiko being too shocked and flustered to say anything, feeling mortified for how she reacted, until finally Deku collected his composure and cleared his throat, smiling at her, “Yes, I’m Deku, and this is Shouto. What’s your name?”

Meiko’s mind had just started working, but it stuttered to a halt again. Calming herself down, she finally managed to get out, “M-Meiko. My n-name is Meiko. I’m s-so sorry for screaming at you like that. I’m just waiting for my f-friends to arrive, and I accidentally overheard the two of you talking...”

She trailed off, realising she had been rambling.

Deku smiled charmingly at her, and Meiko almost swooned.

“No harm done. Here, you can sit with us if you want, while you wait for your friends.”

Shouto sighed, but obediently moved a bit to provide space for her.

And that’s how Meiko found herself sitting in the cafe, with two of the highest ranked heroes in the world. And they were together! Since she hadn’t known this before, it was either new, or they were trying very hard to hide it. Either way, she was one of the first people to find it out! She felt like screaming, but she managed to contain herself, barely.

And now that she looked at them, she couldn’t understand how they had managed to hide it from anyone, at all. The way Deku beamed at Shouto, the way Shouto seemed aloof but kept sending glances at Deku. It made Meiko want to squeal but she, again, contained herself.

Meiko was usually quite a chatterbox, but she was currently way too starstruck to hold a conversation consistently. However, Deku seemed to understand, and his sunny questions and chatter, combined with Shouto’s occasional additions, managed to get Meiko to open up. She kept stammering, and blushing occasionally, but for periods, she almost forgot who she was talking to.

Deku talked a bit about their work, but he avoided heavier topics, and he avoided talking about his and Shouto’s relationship, and she didn’t want to pry. He did seem a bit freer with his affections, and at one point she realised they were holding hands under the table which again almost made her squeal. They were so cute.

She had arrived a bit earlier to the cafe, but her friends were starting to be seriously late. For the first time ever, she didn’t mind, she even almost wished that they would never arrive.

“Wait ‘till I tell them I sat and chatted with Deku and Shouto. They are never going to believe me!”

The conversation at one point turned to her life and she found herself talking about her plans for the future (or lack thereof). She opened to them surprisingly easily, telling them how she liked heroes and knew a lot about them, but how her quirk wasn’t really suited for heroics. And how she didn’t really want to be a hero, but she did want to help them and work peripheral to them, at least.

“Huh, that’s interesting,” Deku said, seeming stumped, furrowing his brows in thought.

But it was Shouto that surprised Meiko, saying, “Why don’t you try the management department at the UA?”

“Management?” Meiko asked, confused.

“Yes,” Shouto replied, “that seems exactly like what you’re looking for. Working peripheral to heroes, helping them? That’s what management kids do.”

“That’s perfect, Shouto!” Deku exclaimed, “you need good grades to get into UA, but I don’t doubt you could do it! And there’s no quirk test for that department.”

Management, huh? She hadn’t thought of that. But the more she thought about it, the more she warmed up to the idea. That was exactly what she needed.

She grinned at the two heroes in front of her.

Thank you”, she said, earnestly.

Deku beamed, and even Shouto gave her a small smile. For the rest of the time they were there, she peppered them with questions about the UA, the teachers and the entrance exam. But soon, the two of them had to leave. She had lost most of the hero worship while talking to them, but seeing them stand up to leave, it all came back and she barely managed to stutter out a goodbye.

Deku smiled understandingly, and they offered their goodbyes as well. Just as they were about to leave, Deku turned to her and said, “It was really nice to meet you! I just wanted to ask you not to talk to anyone about me and Shouto, alright? At least, not to any news or magazines. We are still trying to keep this as secret as possible, from the wider public.”

Then they turned, and left. Before they turned a corner, Meiko saw Shouto hug Deku and kiss him on the forehead. Then she lost sight of them.   

She could hear giggling, and she looked up, seeing her friends entering the cafe and approaching her table.

“Why are you so flustered?" Kaya asked her, while they were sitting down.

“Thinking about heroes?" Haruka teased, “Did you meet any again?”.  

Meiko remembered Deku’s earnest eyes as he asked her not to tell anyone about them. Shouto’s little quirk of the lips. She made her decision.

"Oh, no, nothing like that," she replied, smiling, "I’ve just finally decided which high school I’m going to go to, and what I’m going to do."