Hitoshi tapped the flat edge of his knife against his palm and sighed in disappointment. “Again.” The man stabbed himself in the thigh and cried out in pain. “Pull it out.” He did as he was told, the blade covered in sticky blood, which dripped all over his leg. “Again – your right hand this time, hard as you can.” He lifted the knife in his shaky hand and stabbed his other, so hard that it went through completely and stuck in the wood armrest of the chair, a raw scream ripped from him. “Leave it.”
With that taken care of, Hitoshi turned on his heels and walked out of the room, leaving the torn, broken, and half-dead man in the chair, unbound, blood dripping from the multiple self-inflicted wounds. He slammed the door shut and slid the heavy bar over it. If the idiot died, he died. If he didn’t, he’d probably wish he had. If he had simply answered the questions Hitoshi had so politely asked the first time, he wouldn’t be in this position at all.
Alas, Hitoshi had honed his quirk to the point where he could brainwash a person into inflicting painful injuries on themselves but not spill secrets. A flaw in his design, Ochako teased, but there was always a sharp edge to her words. She would pat him on the cheek or head like some sort of dog that was close to figuring out a new trick. It was maddening, even more so because of how well he responded to it.
After sliding his favorite knife back in its sheath on his vest, Hitoshi pulled his gloves off and slid them into his back pocket. He hated getting his hands dirty, especially during interrogations. It didn’t matter if he had blood smeared across his face or staining his shirt. He was in a sour mood all day if his hands were sticky with blood, and interrogations were always a messy business.
Once he reached the room down the hallway, he knocked on the door and waited until he heard a singsong voice call out, “Who is it?”
Hitoshi pinched the bridge of his nose. “You know who it is. We’re the only two here right now.”
“It could be our friend we’re having over.”
He dropped his hand and leaned his head against the door. “You know I could’ve simply brainwashed you into opening the door.”
A second later, it swung open to reveal Ochako’s cheery face. She wore a bright smile that reached her large, brown eyes, those sun-kissed spots on her cheek standing out more than ever. One time, a villain they were working with said he wanted to cut those spots off her cheek when she smarted off to him. Hitoshi didn’t even get the chance to do anything before Ochako smacked him in the face and floated the asshole fifteen stories before she deactivated her quirk, leaving him to dangle from the side of the building until his men saved him. He loved those pink cheeks, along with the pink pads on her fingers that marked her gravity quirk.
Ochako folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the threshold, tilting her head to the side as she gazed up at him. “So? Did he give up the ambassador’s schedule?”
Hitoshi grit his teeth. “No.”
“How disappointing.” Ochako pursed her lips in a pout. “I thought Aizawa taught you better. Shall I call him instead?”
“No!” Hitoshi winced at his quick response. He sounded too eager to please – again like a dog. How did she manage to have this effect over him? After all these years, he should be better about it, but just as it had been when Aizawa saved the traumatized girl from the heroes and brought her in, Hitoshi only wanted to see her smile. “No, I can do it. He’ll break after this.”
“I know.” Ochako unfolded her arms so she could reach up and cup his stubbled cheek, her pinky finger sticking out. He thought she preferred it when he looked a little rougher, but truth be told, he would’ve been like this regardless. He’d looked like he rolled out of bed at two in the afternoon since he was a teenager, even if he dressed better these days. “I’ve got faith in you. I always have.”
“Then why are you questioning me?”
Ochako smacked his cheek and smiled again. “Because you always work better with a fire lit under you.”
Hitoshi snatched her by the wrist. “Ochako–”
“What?” She blinked innocently. “You do .”
She wasn’t wrong. Aizawa had picked up that trait about him not long after he had found Hitoshi on the street. If he pushed Hitoshi hard enough, he would figure out a way to get things done, even if they seemed impossible at first. He learned how to fight, how to prowl the alleys, how to drop in and take care of business without people ever knowing he was there. Ochako figured it out quickly. If she wanted something and Aizawa said no, she asked him. He could never say no to her.
“Was there something else you needed?” Ochako asked.
Hitoshi opened his mouth, but for once, words failed him. He knew what he wanted to say. All he had to do was say them, let her respond, and he would get what he wanted – what he’d wanted for a while but couldn’t bring himself to take. No, that wasn’t right. Ochako wasn’t something he could take for himself. He couldn’t be selfish like that, no matter how much he wanted to be. He wanted to press his lips to the inside of her wrist, skin so vulnerable and barely covering the veins tied to her lifeline.
“No.” He let go of her wrist. “I don’t.”
Ochako pepped up. “Good – because I’m meeting Todoroki to talk with him about his recruitment methods.”
“What?” He stared at her. She was meeting up with Todoroki now? Without him? They’d been working with him for a few months, but Hitoshi didn’t trust him. He might’ve been open about where he came from, but it would’ve been impossible to hide the fact that he was the Number One Hero’s son. The fact that he’d gone rogue did not appeal to Hitoshi at all. Todoroki was cold and dangerous. She shouldn’t be meeting with him alone. What was she thinking?
“I was thinking maybe you two should switch responsibilities for a while,” she continued as she walked back into her room to grab her jacket. “You are, after all, more convincing – and that’s not including your quirk.” She glanced back at him, tossing her hair over her shoulders, and winked before rummaging around her desk for her gloves. “Todoroki is charismatic in his own way, but those handsome good looks and intense glares don’t make up for him freezing potential members to death.”
Hitoshi stepped further into the room. “I’ll come with you.”
Ochako snorted and shook her head. “So you two can snip at each other? I don’t think so. I’ll be fine.”
“He’s vicious,” Hitoshi insisted. “He could kill you.”
“So could you.” Ochako turned back around and looked at him as she slid on her gloves. They didn’t cover those precious fingertips of hers, but they’d keep her hands warm in the cold that surrounded Todoroki wherever he went, like he couldn’t turn off that half of his quirk. “So could Aizawa, Monoma, Kaminari, Momo. We’re all dangerous, Hitoshi.” She waved a hand. He bought her those gloves two years ago. Bought them, not stolen them. “Ask the media: we’re villains. Killing is what we do best.”
Carding his fingers through his hair, Hitoshi tried again. “I’m coming with you.”
Ochako rolled her eyes. “Jealous?”
Hitoshi dropped his hand and stepped closer to her. She didn’t move. She always kept people at a distance, always kept her hands to herself, but not with him. She had been scared at first, forced to wear gloves that covered her entire hands until she could control her quirk. It made sense considering she had accidentally killed her parents with it. Hitoshi could understand that. He’d killed his too. How many nights had they spent curled up next to each other swapping horror stories, insecurities, fears?
Ochako’s eyes glittered with amusement. “Are you sure?” He didn’t answer. This must be how that hero in the holding cell felt right now. At least Hitoshi didn’t have a knife sticking out of his hand. “You’re not jealous of Todoroki asking to see me alone?”
“I’m suspicious,” Hitoshi snapped, “not jealous.”
Letting out a sigh, Ochako nodded. “Okay, you can come.” He relaxed. “On one condition.” And then he was back at attention, his eyes on the single finger she held in his face. “You let me deal with Todoroki, even if he gets worked up. I don’t think he will, but I don’t need you stepping in to ‘save’ me. Do you understand?”
“Understood,” Hitoshi replied, even if he didn’t like it. She was right. She was also the boss. He would follow her into hell if she had asked him. Hell, maybe he had, but it wasn’t like they hadn’t already been here. They’d simply made it theirs. “Ochako…”
“What?” Ochako stared up at him. She was so close – close enough to touch, close enough to kiss. It wasn’t the appropriate moment, but it was all he could do to not do either of those things. She didn’t like to be touched. She let him though. The only issue was that he wanted to do more.
Hitoshi turned away and walked out of the room. “Never mind. Let’s get this over with.”
He would have to make do. What he had with her would have to be enough for now. Eventually, he would have her – he was certain of it – but he had to be patient. And then she would be his.