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Listen Before I Go

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He didn't start out on the roof. He didn't start out there, treading the stairs slowly, so slowly, as if giving himself a chance to turn around and race back to his room, throw himself under his blankets and pretend none of this had ever happened. No, he didn't start there.

Kaminari started questioning his worth nearly two years ago after transferring into the hero course.

Before, in junior high, Kaminari hadn't worried about who he was. People loved his jokes, and that's all that matters, right? He could laugh with others and make fancy sparkles on his fingers. That counted. That mattered. That made him special.

But at UH Academy, everyone was special. Everyone had some little trick they could do. At first it had grated at Kaminari, how small his quirk had seemed, but that had passed as face after friendly face sought out his friendship. It was okay again. He counted. He mattered.

In fact, he genuinely believed he was an important asset to the hero course until one particular Tuesday afternoon. He'd pushed his quirk too hard and it had fried his brain, leaving him dopey and struggling to keep up with the rest of . . . Well, everything. His friends had teased him mercilessly the next day, making crude impersonations of his face and he'd laughed, because it had been funny, right? People liked watching it, right?

Of course there were some of the harsher comments, like being called "unfathomably stupid" by Jirou and "Dunce face" by Bakugou, but it was fine. He hadn't cared too much.

And then it continued.

He got stronger, better at honing in his abilities. His grades climbed ever so slowly, and while he'd never been at the very bottom of the class, now at least he was average. He still got equally woozy, but that was because he was releasing higher voltages.

Mina and Jirou would fist bump.

Bakugou would reluctantly accept Kirishima's praise and give constructive criticism in return.

Kaminari would . . .

Um.

He accepted Sero jab at his weakness, telling himself that his friend didn't mean to sound half as harsh as he did.

It was fine. He counted. He mattered.

But as the weeks stretched on, Kaminari could feel himself begin to wear thin as the class clown. He wasn't trying to make a fool of himself. He legitimately didn't understand when they went over adverbs in English, he wasn't trying to get a laugh when he asked for Uraraka to go easier on him, and he most certainly hadn't been looking for attention when he snapped at Kirishima for his, hopefully unintentional, condescending words. These things just happened, and with how out of context they were spinning, Kaminari couldn't help but wonder if the people he was supposed to be fighting alongside cared for him at all.

So no, he didn't start out on the rooftop.

But he was so goddamn tired.

Tired enough to take a shaky breath, the air rattling in his overworked lungs.

Tired enough to let loose the raw emotions crackling under his skin, manifesting into enough voltage to cause the entire floor beneath him to light up like a firecracker before breaking any and all light fixtures.

Tired enough enough that his now woozy brain took on look at the edge of the roof . . .

And was immediately pulled backwards by a familiar scarf and a screaming Kirishima.