Mina cut her hair.
It was the first thing Eijiro saw as he entered the bar, arriving late to one of the semi-regular gatherings of the former class 1-A.
It seemed to be the trend, as they transitioned from students to fully fledged heroes, to do something drastic with their appearance. Trying to make themselves look more mature than they actually felt. No amount of hero training—or even all their real life experience with villains—could have prepared them for things like navigating adult relationships.
Eijiro would really rather be facing a villain than the sight of Mina Ashido’s bare neck. The top of her hair was just as wild as ever, but the back was tamed with an edgy undercut that made her neck look a million miles long. Every time she turned her head, her dangly earrings brushed against her skin. Clusters of gemstones—pink tourmaline and opals—twinkled under soft light of the bar. He couldn’t stop thinking about kissing the space right below her hairline.
Mina turned, and caught him with a smile that was too much, too bright, and his heart ached.
“Everything okay?” She asked, her smile dimming as she tilted her head.
His throat tightened reflexively. She always saw through him, like his face was an open book to her.
He couldn’t remember what he actually tried to say. Maybe, ‘thinking about some stuff,’ or ‘just dealing with some things.’ He couldn’t outright lie to her, but he didn’t mean for the truth to helplessly tumble from his mouth.
“I love you,” he said.
Her eyes widened in shock, the black space expanding around her gold irises.
The world had narrowed to just the two of them the moment he saw her, but now he was suddenly aware that he was in a crowded bar, surrounded by most of his former classmates, all of whom had fallen silent at his sudden confession.
“I gotta go,” Eijiro said.
“But you just got here!” Denki piped up.
Someone smacked him. Eijiro didn’t see who, he was already out the door.
He wasn’t aware of anything on his trip home, his mind was entirely occupied with the way Mina’s face had flushed a darker pink, her full lips parting.
All he could think was that he betrayed her trust as a friend, and that she’d never want to see him again.
This was the worst day of his life.
Eijiro holed himself up in his apartment for as long as he could—which was exactly a single day, because he had work. But he turned off his phone, avoided his computer, closed off all contact.
He cocooned himself in blankets on his couch and watched old Crimson Riot interviews until his eyeballs were dry.
“Get ahold of yourself, Eijiro,” he finally declared, standing and letting the blankets around him fall. “You’re acting pathetic. And you kind of smell bad.”
Mina was his dearest and most trusted friend. Even if she didn’t feel the same—which she probably didn’t—she wouldn’t just drop him like he meant nothing to her.
He scrubbed his hands over his face. Shower. He needed a shower.
The hot water scalding his skin was a cathartic distraction for a brief moment, but with nothing else to occupy his mind, it immediately started to wander.
He felt like a creepy pervert, thinking about Mina’s neck, of all things, while he was in the shower. It was just… so beautiful.
Everything about her was, really.
Not everyone would agree, Eijiro knew. Despite the world they lived in, there were still some prejudices against Quirks that caused inhuman physical traits. Being pink wasn’t really that unusual compared to some, but it was different enough that certain people would overlook her. But ever since the day he first saw her, Eijiro had thought that Mina was the most beautiful girl in the world. Emulating her horns with his hairstyle had been such a pitiful and desperate attempt to be even half as cool as her. He’d moved on from that phase at least, letting his hair grow out long enough to tie it back.
He sighed as he worked conditioner through those long strands. Despair over his hopeless crush wasn’t a good enough reason to skimp on his personal grooming regime—keeping dyed hair healthy at this length left no room for laziness.
Did Mina like long hair on a prospective romantic partner? Or was her own short style indicative of her preferences? Katsuki and Izuku both had tidy undercuts, and everyone talked about how sexy they looked. Hell, he thought it was super sexy! It just... wasn't for him. He loved his long hair; he’d spent a lot of time and effort growing it out and keeping it nice. Cutting it just to impress a girl wouldn’t be staying true to himself, even if the girl was as amazing and wonderful as Mina Ashido.
Aaaand he was thinking about her again. The way those earrings brushed against her neck with every move…
Realization hit him with the suddenness and impact of a lightning strike. Her earrings. Pink tourmaline and opal. October’s birthstones. His birthstones.
That couldn’t be just a coincidence, right? Pink wasn’t really Mina’s preferred color even though it was literally her color. She favored blue and purple. Was he reading too much into this? She wasn’t usually one to be so subtle. Unless she was hinting that she wanted him to make the first move?
He shook himself out of his thoughts. He’d been standing there agonizing over it for so long that the water was getting cold and he still hadn’t even rinsed out the conditioner.
Hastily, he finished up showering, heading to his room still wet, clad in just a towel. He retrieved his phone from where he’d shoved it in his nightstand drawer, holding down the button to turn it on.
As he waited for it to start up, he gave himself a pep talk.
“You already confessed, if things are ruined by that then they’re already ruined. You have nothing to lose. You’re a pro hero and a pretty damn good one, you’re not a scared little kid anymore. Mina is one of your best friends. She wouldn’t hang around if she didn’t like you in some way at least a little bit. You’ve got this.”
Missed call notifications and dozens of texts from his friends popped up immediately, but he ignored all of them. He could deal with that after. He scrolled through his contacts, and pressed call next to Mina’s name.
His heart raced as he listened to the line ring. He closed his eyes, taking deep breaths.
“Took you long enough,” Mina answered, in lieu of a hello.
“I, uh… what took me long enough? Calling, or…” Eijiro asked, stumbling over his words.
“Both! I’ve been dropping hints for ages, Eiji! And I’m not a ‘drop hints’ kinda girl!”
She’d been dropping hints. She’d been dropping hints? What other hints had she been dropping that he missed? More importantly—she returned his feelings?!
Eijiro let out a shaky laugh. “I’m sorry.”
“You’re supposed to be all chivalrous and manly and stuff, and you go and pull that? Whip out the L word and dip?” Mina didn’t sound actually mad, despite what she was saying. Just exasperated.
“You’re right, this has been wholly unbecoming of myself, as a hero and a man,” Eijiro agreed, trying to keep his voice level so she wouldn’t know he was happily dancing around his bedroom like a huge dork. “Let me make it up to you. A proper date.”
“Damn right. I’m free Friday night,” Mina said.
“Seven!” She confirmed.
This was the best day of his life.
True to his word, Eijiro was going to show Mina how romantic and chivalrous he could be. He arrived promptly at five minutes before seven with a giant bouquet of roses and a box of her favorite candies.
His palms were still sweaty with nerves when he knocked on the door.
It swung open to reveal Mina in a slinky purple dress and those same gemstone earrings. She was breathtaking.
“Hi,” he said weakly.
“Hi,” Mina echoed, accepting the roses with a grin. “So, where are you taking me, Mr. Chivalrous Hero?”
“It’s a surprise,” Eijiro replied. “But I think you’ll like it.”
Mina laid her hand on his arm. “Do we have time for you to step inside for a bit before we go?” she asked in a low voice.
Eijiro shivered, letting her lead him inside her place. “Yeah, we’ve got some time.”
His back hit the wall and her lips met his. He wrapped his arms around her waist, candies and roses falling to the floor as they lost themselves in each other.