Jirou can pinpoint the moment she started thinking about Kaminari as more than comic relief.
It's about a month into their second year. Mineta's been sent packing, and Shinsou's settled into their class much better than the grape ever did. She's pretty good friends with Shinsou, despite the fact that he's in Midoriya's group, and they always sit together during movie nights so they can exchange commentary without Bakugou yelling at them to "shut the fuck up, haven't you ever watched a fucking movie before without yapping up a storm?"
Tonight's one of those movie nights, although it doesn't seem like it'll work out. The TV's busted again - definitely someone's quirk, but no one's spoken up yet - and Kaminari's trying to fix it. Like most of his electrical repairs, it probably won't end well.
"Give it up, bro," Sero says, eating ice cream from the container. "You're the one who told me that you can't talk to electronics, remember? We can just watch on someone's laptop or something."
"I got this," he shouts back, giving him a wide smile and a thumbs up. "This is our second TV this month, I don't wanna waste it. Plus, I'm pretty sure it's almost fixed. Just needs to be zapped into shape."
Judging by the TV's crackle and hiss in response, Jirou isn't so sure about that.
"Careful, static-head," she calls for good measure. It's the most recent nickname on an ever-expanding list she keeps in her repertoire.
"Don't doubt me, Jirou," he shoots back, one hand firmly clamped on the top of the TV. "I'm dedicating this TV repair to you."
"Please don't, I want no part in this," she says, but there's a laugh in her voice, and her cheeks go just a little warm.
It feels easier to talk to Kaminari now that Mineta's gone. Sure, they always had a good banter going, but she always felt guilty about it, especially since he'd talked just as easily with Mineta about girls. They got on well, but it felt like she was betraying her fellow girls. Plus, he was kind of a girl addict himself, even if it wasn't to the same extent as the grape.
Being friends with Bakugou was probably what got him to see how creepy it all was. Jirou wasn't witness to the slideshow herself, but Kirishima tells her it was called "Treat Women With Respect, Motherfucker," and was twenty five slides long. Bakugou operates on a strict "treat everyone with the same amount of contempt" basis, and Mineta's creepiness, evidently, annoyed the hell out of him too.
So now Mineta's gone, Kaminari doesn't stare at the girls anymore, and Jirou's suddenly closer with him again. She doesn't feel guilty responding to his joke-flirting, and they're well on their way to a meaningful friendship.
Which means it's time for her brain to mess all of that up.
He's cute, she realizes with a bit of a start. Sure, he's about to set fire to the TV, but it's cute. When did that happen?
The answer is pretty obvious: since the beginning of first year. He hasn't changed much, besides growing an inch or two and cutting his hair shorter. His attitude didn't change much either, besides for a decline in the amount of girl jokes he makes.
You don't feel guilty anymore, her brain supplies. You can like him now.
"See, Jirou, I told you I could!" he shouts triumphantly, just as the screen clears to the nightly news. Jirou wants to say something cool in response, but Shinsou beats her to it.
"We never doubted you for a second," he says , and Kaminari's attention turns to him instead. He stands up slowly, stretching out his back before approaching the TV. He ruffles Kaminari's hair with one hand, then reaches for the DVD case. "Does that mean we can watch The Purge now?"
"You always wanna watch something gory," Kaminari complains, but he still retrieves the disc and slides it in. Everyone else in the room settles into their seats, and Kaminari takes his place on the floor, foot tapping already. Rather than being distracting or annoying, it's endearing. This isn't going to end well for me. I already have competition, too.
To prove her point, Shinsou elbows her in the side, and she turns to see he's looking at Kaminari too, with the same fond smile.
"I'm gonna date that," he whispers, not looking at her, but his smile curls at the edges. Like a cat, she thinks with a small frown. He's surprisingly cunning.
"Oh yeah?" she says under her breath, suddenly on the defensive. "Not if I date that first." No challenge was named, but she'll damn well win it. Sure, she hasn't thought of Kaminari like this for long, but that doesn't mean she'll just will away her feelings like that. Especially if Shinsou'll just go on and date him instead.
"We can talk more later," is his response, and they both turn just in time to see the title screen.
They meet in Shinsou's room after the movie, and Jirou's not surprised to see that it's all dark and moody.
"Emo," she observes, and he frowns.
"Punk," he corrects her. "Totally different." He sits on his bed, and after a moment, she sits in his desk chair. "I've decided we're going to be mature about this. No need to be catty and end up hating each other."
"I don't want to hate you either." A pause, then she asks, "How long have you liked him, anyway?"
Shinsou runs a hand through his already messy hair. "I dunno, since the joint training battle last year?"
Jirou whistles low. "That long? Damn, why didn't you just ask him out before? He flirts with you all the time."
"He flirts with everything that walks," Shinsou says dryly. "Doesn't mean he actually likes me, though. Or guys, for that matter." He shakes out his head, then does his best Aizawa-sensei smile. "That doesn't mean I'll just let you have him, though. How long have you liked him?"
"Um, a few hours?" He throws his pillow at her, and she smacks it out of the air with one of her jacks. "Hey, what was that for?"
"You don't deserve to have him," he says, eyes narrowed. "You've barely even thought about him."
"Only because he used to be kind of a skeeze," she says crossly. "And I've been friends with him longer than you've known him. If anyone should give up, it's you."
"Fine, fine, let's be civil again." He puts his hands up placatingly. "I say we have a contest. Whoever gets him to confess first, gets to date him."
"Isn't that how it always works?" Jirou asks, raising an eyebrow. "How's this any different than before?"
"I just wanted to be upfront about it. I don't do things backhandedly." Shinsou puts his feet up, hands interlocked beneath his head. "Also I think we should have some rules. Like no talking badly about each other."
"No using your quirk," Jirou adds, and Shinsou scowls at her.
"I would never. I want to win him over genuinely, remember?" He thinks for a moment. "Third wheeling is fine, but trying to flirt with him during movie nights are off limits. That's our time to just chill."
"Deal. I'll try to keep it to a minimum during mealtimes too, but I won't stop sitting with him just to try and make things fair."
"Good with me." Shinsou checks his phone. "It's getting late, and we don't want people to get the wrong idea, so let's call it a night. We'll see how things go tomorrow. I think I can get him to confess by lunch." He flashes her another catlike grin, and Jirou returns it easily.
"May the best date win," she says simply, walking out the door. Shinsou deals in mind games, but she won't be beaten that easily.
"I plan to."
Jirou doesn't waste any time talking to him the next day. She waits until class, to be fair to Shinsou, although she still has an advantage, given she sits right next to him. Shinsou sits two rows back, and she can feel his eyes on her as she leans over.
"Wanna compare answers for the homework?" she asks. "You're much better at english than I am." This is a true statement, although she's never said it out loud for fear of pandering to his ego.
"Sure," he says, with a smile bright enough to blind. "Does this mean you'll stop calling me an idiot?"
"No, but only because I've never meant it seriously," she says. "If you want me to stop, though, I will. I've got plenty of other things to call you." Kaminari never seemed truly offended when she called him an idiot, but maybe she wasn't looking close enough.
"Ah, no, it doesn't bother me," he says, and there. She can see a flicker of discomfort in his eyes, the way he yanks his sheet out a little too abruptly. If this contest does nothing more, at least it'll make me a better friend.
"Too late, you've already proven me wrong," she says, pointing to a quiz on his desk. "And nobody who's an idiot can ace Present Mic's tests. They always take me forever and I still never get higher than an eighty nine."
"Stop, you're literally seventh in our class," he says, but he's smiling again, and she feels complete once more. "Now about the homework. Was this reading weird to you too?"
Shinsou pays her back quickly, snatching Kaminari up as his partner during hero training in gym gamma.
"You already know how my quirk works, so you'll have to trust me and let me use it," Jirou hears him say from where she's partnered with Mina. They're practicing one on one combat, and as much as she doesn't want to beat Kaminari up, it's worse that Shinsou got to him first. "Don't worry, I won't make you do anything horrible."
"I trust you," Kaminari replies, and damn if that isn't romantic. She turns to Mina with a bit of a grimace, twirling one of her jacks in her fingers.
"Let's start," she says, and Mina nods.
"Right behind you."
Their quirks are too different to do any real fighting, so they spar for a little, then take a break. Jirou carries her waterbottle over to Shinsou and Kaminari's area, sitting down by the wall nearby. They're also sparring now, although Shinsou has the upper hand, being five inches taller.
"Go Kaminari. Beat his ass," she chants, feeling a little ridiculous but still wanting to be supportive. Kaminari pauses before a strike to look over at her, and almost get knocked over because of it. He rolls out of Shinsou's reach, sending her a quick grin.
"Damn, I better try harder now that I have an audience," he says, lunging at Shinsou. The other boy hooks his leg around his, though, and pins him to the mat.
"Don't go easy on me, Sparky," he says, eyes flashing. "Especially now that we have an audience." He pushes off of him, holding out a hand to help Kaminari up, which he takes gratefully. "Let's give Jirou a show, alright?"
They go back to sparring, and they're pretty evenly matched, all things considered. Kaminari has the extra training he got from being in 1-A, and Shinsou has about thirty pounds on him. So while Kaminari can get out of a headlock easily, he can't flip Shinsou like Shinsou can flip him.
"Uncle," he says after being pinned down yet again. Shinsou pulls him back to his feet, and he stumbles a few steps. "Jirou, can you toss me my water?"
She slides it to him, and he chugs from it, sweat dripping down from his forehead and making his face shine in the fluorescent lights. It's not hot. It's definitely not hot. Shinsou catches her staring and smirks. Alright, maybe it is hot. I can admit it.
"Kaminari, do you wanna practice guitar later?" she asks, pushing herself to her feet. It's something they do occasionally, Jirou giving him music lessons, but there's no time like the present. "There's a new song I wanna try, but it takes two people to do it."
"Yeah, definitely," Kaminari says, wiping his mouth on the collar of his shirt, and she feels her ears go red. This'll put me way ahead.
"You guys play together?" Shinsou asks, but it's not really a question. "What a coincidence, I play the bass. We should play something together one day when I have it on me."
"Dude, you should totally come tonight!" Kaminari says, looking between the two of them. "It'll be so epic. Jirou probably has a bass in her room, so you can use that if you don't have yours on you. We haven't played with anyone since like the concert last year. Think of the possibilities!"
"Oh, I remember that concert. You both were really good. My whole class was talking about it for a week."
They both turn to Jirou expectantly. Well played, Shinsou. "Sounds good to me," she says, smiling a little despite Shinsou's interference because she's still playing with him, and that's still something. "Is after dinner good?"
"Works for me," Shinsou says, and Kaminari gives her a thumbs up.
"Great. I have to get back to Mina now, but I'll see you then." She waves to both of them, and turns to run back to Mina, who's squinting at her.
"So do you have a thing for Shinsou or Kaminari?" she asks when she returns.
"I'll let you guess," Jirou says, because one person knowing is enough for her.
"I guess they both have their merits..." Mina muses, then tosses her water to the side. "Let's get back into this!"
Shinsou comes to Jirou's room a little before Kaminari does, which gives her ample time to rage at him as best as she can. She's no Bakugou; she deals best in passive-aggression.
"Way to invite yourself over," she says, looking through her instruments before finding a bass and handing it to him. "Do you know how to play?"
"Of course," he says, playing a few chords. "I wouldn't want to embarrass myself in front of him. Plus, he's the one who invited me, not me. Very gracious of you to say yes, though."
"What can I say? I'm an altruist at heart."
Kaminari shows up, grabbing a guitar from Jirou's wall. "Great, we can start!" He sits beside Jirou on her bed, and she can almost feel the static electricity - literally - where their legs brush. Shinsou's stuck on the other side of her, looking at the sheet music she chose over her shoulder.
"Alright, so it's only a couple of chords," she says, playing them once on her guitar. Then, fighting down a wave of red, she moves Kaminari's hands to the right place on his own guitar. "Start there, E, then you move it to B," she moves his fingers again, "here, then C# minor, then A."
His hands aren't much bigger than hers, thin and covered in white lightning scars. Almost everyone in their class has some form of damage from their quirk, but she never noticed them before. She wants to tell him that they look cool, that they're a sign of a real hero. But she doesn't know how to say it.
Just as she's adjusting his grip, she feels a small shock run through her hand.
"Sorry!" Kaminari says immediately, pulling back. He's worse at hiding his embarrassment; his whole face is bright pink. "Happens... sometimes."
"Are you nervous?" she asks, and he turns even darker pink. But before he can respond, Shinsou butts in.
"Obviously, when you're grabbing at him," he says, squeezing his arm. "Show me on the doll where the big bad Jirou touched you, Kaminari."
That gets a snort from the electric blond, and Jirou flicks Shinsou in the head when he's not looking. That's what you get for ruining my moment.
"Jirou, I need help finding the chords too," he says, sending her a wide, sarcastic grin. "Can you help me too?"
"Of course, Shinsou," she says with a grin of her own. "Wouldn't want you to get left behind, after all." In more ways than one.
His fingers are completely different than Kaminari's; long and rough, yet unblemished. She knows that he knows his chords, he's just trying to be an ass, but she shows him anyway because she likes instructing people and because Kaminari's watching.
"Alright, let's try it," she says, wiping her hands on Shinsou's jeans dramatically. "I'll start with Shinsou, then you can jump in whenever you want, Kami."
"'Kami'?" Shinsou asks, raising an eyebrow. Kaminari stares too, both eyebrows raised. Jirou blinks hard, her face heating up.
"Sorry, I meant Kaminari," she says, staring at her guitar. "Accident."
"No, stick with it," Kaminari says, scratching his cheek. "It's the nicest nickname you've given me yet."
"Does that mean I get to call you Denki?" Shinsou asks, mood killer once again.
"How's that related?" Jirou asks, black eyes meeting dark purple.
"I dunno, while we're talking about nicknames."
"That's not a nickname, that's his actual name."
"Denki's good too," Kaminari interrupts, looking from Shinsou to Jirou. "Different names for different people." Yeah, but which is better? "Daylight's a-wasting, guys. Let's start playing before Aizawa-sensei comes for curfew."
"Roger that," Shinsou says with a small salute, and turns her amp on to the lowest setting. Her room is soundproof, but she doesn't like playing too loud anyway.
It's almost annoying how well her and Shinsou play together. Like she suspected, he knows his stuff, probably practices once a week in his room. After a minute of listening, Kaminari joins in, and even though he stumbles over some of the notes, they sound good. She forgot how much she misses playing in a band. Sure, before UA it was just a couple of her friends in her garage, but it felt special. Just like now.
"Damn, we're great at this," Kaminari says after they play the last notes. "You should've come earlier, Shinsou. It sounds so much cooler when there's also a bass there." Jirou doesn't know how to feel about this, so she chooses to nod and strum a few notes.
"I don't usually play with other people, so this was fun. Thanks for inviting me, Jirou," he says, and she's surprised to find that he looks genuine. Right, I forgot that we're friends too, not just rivals. I have to try and be less catty.
"No problem." She bumps her fist against his, then against Kaminari's head lightly. "We should do this again sometime."
"Definitely," Kaminari says, and they both bask in the light of his smile. Blessed.
A few days later is Saturday, which means they don't have to wear their uniforms. Jirou takes full advantage of this, pulling out the only crop top she owns, a blue one that ties at the waist, and matching it with a pair of ripped jeans. She's never worn it in school, mostly out of discomfort in front of Mineta, but now that he's gone...
Let's just say Kaminari's in for a surprise. She's been on the down low since the guitar lesson, but here's her chance to take the offensive.
She tops it off with a few bracelets on each wrist, a choker, and, after a moment of deliberation, some black eyeliner. She doesn't want to overdo it, but when she looks in the mirror, she feels confident in herself. I look nice. That's all there is to it.
She walks out to the common room, only to find Shinsou there, mug of coffee already in hand. He's also dressed nicely, she notes with a sniff. Black flannel over a thin white t-shirt, black jeans, and his hair is slicked back just a little neater than usual. They eye each other across the room, each waiting for Kaminari to show up.
"You look hot," he says, his tone almost annoyed.
"Same to you," she says, putting her feet up on the table. "We really do share a brain, huh."
"Seems that way." He sighs, finishing his cup. "I was going to invite Kaminari to the arcade today, but I feel it's only fair that I invite you too. Since you let me come before and all."
She blinks at him, puzzled. "It's fine. 'May the best date win,' remember? I'll get him next time."
"Yeah, but just let me return the favor, alright? I'm not backing down either. I'll still win him over today, you'll just be there to watch it." He pours himself more coffee, adding no milk to the black concoction.
"So this is an ego thing, huh?" she asks, a smile playing at her lips. "Alright, I'll come, but I have to warn you: I'm killer at claw machines."
"And I'm the best there is at first person shooters. We'll see who can get more prizes."
Kaminari comes to the common room a little later, still in his pajamas. He freezes when he sees Jirou and Shinsou, and his eyes are as round as saucers.
"I... I'm gonna go get dressed," he says, running back to his dorm. Shinsou snorts.
"Did you see his face? We totally gave him a crisis," he says, chuckling under his breath. "Broke his poor brain right in the morning."
"You mean I gave him a crisis. And yeah, definitely should've warned him," Jirou replies, giggling herself.
"It was a team effort. If I was the one in the crop top, though, he would've short circuited for sure."
Kaminari returns a few minutes later, now dressed in a denim jacket over a v-neck and looking much more collected.
"You guys look nice," he says, and the air crackles with electricity. "Are you going somewhere?"
"All three of us," Shinsou corrects him. "Arcade after breakfast. I already got Aizawa-sensei's permission."
"Aren't we overdressed for the arcade?" Shinsou and Jirou exchange a look, then shake their heads.
"Not at all."
They head off, with a warning from Aizawa-sensei to be careful and pockets full of change. Jirou and Shinsou silently agree that they'll split the cost of Kaminari's tokens, which he protests, but pays back by promising them all lunch later.
"Watch and learn, kids," Jirou says, approaching the claw machine. "Kami, point to one you like."
"Me?" He peers at the glass, ultimately settling on a purple owl. "That one looks cute."
"Got it." She inserts four tokens to the machine, then leans her head to the glass. She misses the first time, but snags the owl on the second try. "Yes! Nailed it." She hands it triumphantly to Kaminari, who tucks it under his arm and names it Murasakino.
"The Japanese word for purple?" Shinsou asks. "You could just name it Owl, you know."
"What can I say? Purple's my favorite color," he says simply, and Jirou wins him two more prizes: a purple horse, and a purple cupcake. She wins something for Shinsou too, a black cat, and he says it reminds him of the one he has at home.
"My turn to show off," Shinsou says, pulling them both to the shooter games. "We can take turns, since only two people can go at once. Whoever gets less points has to switch with the third."
"Well someone sounds confident," Kaminari says, then nudges Jirou with his elbow. "Let's totally show him up."
"Right behind you," she replies, and lets Kaminari take the first turn with Shinsou to be polite.
Neither of them even come close to beating Shinsou. They do have a good time trying, though, and by the time they grow sick of the game, Shinsou has a bucketload of tickets and a cocky smile to show for it.
"Do I get to show off now?" Kaminari asks, struggling to carry all three of his stuffed animals while also holding his tokens and phone. "You guys have been totally hogging the show!"
"Oops," Shinsou says, and Jirou just smiles. "Lead the way."
Kaminari's niche turns out to be skee ball.
"I would've thought it would be something electronic," Jirou says, watching him nail two 100 pointers in a row. She's the one who has to carry his various purple plushes, since Shinsou's hands are already full.
"Nah, this is what I always played as a kid," he says, spinning a ball in his hand. "My quirk was kinda out of control back then, so I couldn't use any of the electronic games, or anything electric really. Then once I got it under control, I was already good at skee ball, so I stuck to it."
Shinsou and Jirou exchange a what do we do now? look.
"I wasn't able to go to crowded places a lot when I was a kid," Jirou offers. "My hearing was really strong, so anywhere with big crowds was overwhelming, even school, so I was homeschooled until I was in middle school."
"I wasn't really... allowed to talk at home, back when I lived with my dad," Shinsou adds, coughing a little. "I don't live with him anymore, but it's weird, talking to people without overthinking if they'll respond. Quirks are... something."
They stew in their words, surrounded by the beeps and blares of the arcade machines. Kaminari, as per usual, breaks the silence.
"Great, I ruined the good feelings," he groans, pressing a hand to his face. "I'm sorry I made it weird and serious."
"It's fine," Shinsou says, pulling him to his side, and Jirou feels like an outsider for a second before Kaminari pulls her in too. She's at least a head shorter than both of them, and they're in a weird huddle-like group hug that probably looks ridiculous to everyone around them, but it's warm and comforting, and she doesn't regret oversharing. "We're fine."
"Now, uh, don't waste your tokens, Denki," Shinsou says when they break apart, a little awkwardly. "Get that skee ball high score, we'll trade in our tickets, and then I'm pretty sure you owe us lunch."
"Right," Kaminari laughs a little, then picks up another ball. "Watch that scoreboard, read it and weep."
When they're all out of tokens, they approach the ticket desk. Jirou only has a couple of tickets from playing a fishing game, so she gets a handful of candies and a sticky hand. Shinsou and Kaminari together have enough to get something off of the tall shelf, and they deliberate between a spinning disco ball and a dartboard.
"Jirou, which do you think?" Kaminari asks, and she pauses from twirling the sticky hand around her finger.
"Personally, I wouldn't get either of those," she says. "You can get them for like ten bucks at any store. I'd get as many temporary tattoos as I could and make a whole sleeve out of them. That's what I used to do at home, anyway." She doesn't mention that whenever she did it, she always wore long sleeves to cover it up. Little Jirou didn't have as much self confidence as she does now (although she still winces a little at the memory).
"That sounds sick," Kaminari says. "Shinsou, wanna?"
"A tattoo sleeve made out of dinosaurs and smiley faces won't be as cool as you think it is," he responds, but, like Jirou, he's weak to Kaminari's whims, and they empty out the arcade's temporary tattoo bucket (and then some).
"Let's get takeout so we can head back to the dorms and put these on," he says. "Curry good with both of you?"
"Sure," Jirou and Shinsou say in unison.
They take their food back to Kaminari's room, since his is already the messiest. When they're done eating, they organize the tattoos into three piles: dinosaur, smiley face, and sea creature.
"I feel like I'm twelve again," Jirou says, pressing a seahorse one to her forearm.
"Nostalgic, right?" Kaminari agrees, taking a winky face and putting it on the back of his hand. "I'd never get a real tattoo but these are chill."
Shinsou, meanwhile, sits with his arms folded on Kaminari's bed, watching them both with raised eyebrows.
"You do you, but I'm not taking any part in this," he says when Kaminari offers him one.
"Don't be a downer," Jirou says, throwing a t-rex one at him. "This is what you played for."
"I didn't get these for me, I got them for you and Denki," he says resolutely, tossing it back. "Knock yourselves out. I'm gonna take a nap." He pauses. "On second thought, it definitely wouldn't be smart to nap here right now."
"Probably true," Jirou says, and picks up another, one of those flying dinosaurs. "Doesn't make you any less of a bummer, though."
"I wear the title proudly."
By the time Jirou runs out of space on her arms, they aren't even halfway done with the tattoos. Kaminari's run out of room too, and starts sticking a couple on his legs. Shinsou's arms remain painfully bare, and he has stood like an iron wall against Kaminari's pleading for him to just take one, it won't hurt.
He leaves to the bathroom for a second, and Kaminari whispers, "Here's the plan. I'll tackle him to my bed, you get as many tattoos on him as you can. You down?"
"Sure. Just give me the signal," she says, and picks up a handful of them in one hand and a wet paper towel in the other. When Shinsou comes in, she wants to be ready. Will he kill me? Debatable, especially since Kaminari's here. Will he want to kill me? Most likely. But it'll be worth it.
Shinsou returns, and they both pretend to be preoccupied with their own tattoos. He lays down on Kaminari's bed, scrolling through his phone, and Kaminari gives her a thumbs up.
"If I die, I leave you all of my pokemon cards," he says, and Jirou doesn't bother correcting him that Shinsou would never kill him, not in a million years. Jirou is fair game, but never Kaminari.
He approaches the bed, slowly at first, then takes a running leap at Shinsou, who barely avoids dropping his phone on his face. He watches, bewildered, as Kaminari sits on his stomach, pinning his hands out above his head.
"Uh..." Shinsou starts, staring up at him with wide eyes; it's the first time Jirou's ever seen him blush. "What are you doing?"
"Right behind you, Kami." She picks the first tattoo randomly, taking off the plastic and sticking it to Shinsou's pinned arm. He's wearing a long sleeve shirt, but at some point he rolled up the sleeves, so his forearms are fair game. She takes her time with it, because if they're going to give him a tattoo sleeve, it might as well be nice. She moves on to the second and apparently Shinsou's resigned himself to his fate, laying still with his eyes closed. Either that or having Kaminari so close sent him into shock.
"You guys are evil," he says in a low tone, opening his eyes to glare at Jirou. "Especially you. You corrupted him."
"Actually, it was his idea," Jirou interrupts, pointing a thumb at Kaminari, who smiles and adjusts his weight. "Also unless you wanna have half a sleeve on each arm, I'd suggest losing the flannel."
"As if this wasn't kinky enough," Shinsou mumbles under his breath, and Kaminari frees his arms long enough for him to pull them out of his sleeves.
"Jeez, man, you're jacked," Jirou says, and Kaminari seems to have noticed it too because the tips of his ears are now perfectly red. "Are you taking training tips from Midoriya or something?"
"I... use the gyms here," Shinsou says sheepishly, and Jirou takes the opportunity to start mapping out a new row of tattoos. He could definitely break out of Kaminari's grip, she observes, amused. He just doesn't want to.
Once his arms are just as covered in tattoos as the two of theirs, she still has a couple left. "Should we do his legs too?" she asks, and that's where Shinsou draws the line. He wraps his fingers around Kaminari's hands, pushes him backward, and gracefully rolls him off of his own bed. Kaminari lands on his rug, dazed and looking vaguely betrayed.
"I hope you're happy with the damage you already did," Shinsou says, looking over his colorful arms. "We look like a kindergartner's dream."
"We look cute," Kaminari corrects him, and Jirou is inclined to agree. She reaches out a hand to help him up at the same time as Shinsou does, and they exchange a challenging smile. So he didn't forget about the contest after all. Kaminari grabs a hand from each of them and yanks himself up, then checks his phone.
"Sero's having a super smash bros tournament now," he says. "Wanna come? Jirou has to because she promised last time, but you have free will."
"I'll watch," Shinsou says, pulling his flannel back on. "If you don't beat Jirou, though, I'll be very disappointed."
"Rude," Jirou snorts.
"You did tell me to beat his ass a few days ago," Kaminari says with a shrug, and Jirou prods him in the cheek with one of her jacks. "You guys go ahead, I'll meet you there in a sec. Just wanna clean my room a bit."
The two of them walk off together, each covered in colorful tattoos - although Shinsou's doing his best to cover them up - and still riding on a wave of light. She suddenly remembers the pseudo conversation they had in the arcade, and tugs at his sleeve.
"Hey," she starts, once he turns to her. She scratches the back of her neck awkwardly. "If you ever need someone to vent to, about your dad or anything, you know where my room is."
He smiles slightly, and it's not his usual smirking sarcastic one either. "Thanks," he says, then adds, "Kaminari said the same thing, when you went to get the napkins before."
Surprisingly, she doesn't feel any jealousy about what this. Rather, she's almost relieved that they were on the same page about it.
"Offer still stands, even if you've got better options," she says. "Also me beating Kaminari in smash is only gonna make him more attracted to me, just so you know."
"I bet." His grin is back to being snarky, but she doesn't really mind it. "And if I'll talk to anyone, it'll be you two."
"You two"? Since when are me and Kaminari in the same category? But she doesn't question this aloud either, because there's really no point to it. She merely strides into the common room, grabs a controller from Mina, who's already there, and lays down on the couch, taking up half of it with her legs. Shinsou sits on the edge, and when Kaminari comes in, he doesn't bother telling either of them to move. He merely lifts Jirou's legs, sits down, and puts them back on his lap.
Jirou, Kaminari, Shinsou, all together in a row. Just like it always was, and will probably be. It's not a bad thought, if Jirou's being honest.
A strange phenomena occurs over the next month or two. Jirou assumes that the contest is still going on, since neither of them called it off, but it's rare for her or Shinsou to be alone with Kaminari. Instead, it's always the three of them, staying up to watch a movie in Shinsou's room or playing something in Jirou's or getting up to something probably against the UA rules in Kaminari's. She still hangs out with her other friends, of course, but more often that not, it's just the three of them.
And she doesn't mind.
It's comfortable, to lay her head on Kaminari's shoulder while Shinsou takes his lap, or to stretch herself across both of them, elbow propped up on a pillow. She doesn't find it weird that over break, Shinsou invites both of them to his house to hang out, and they take turns buying each other drinks from the UA vending machine whenever one of them has pocket money. Coffee for Shinsou (decaf if it's after seven), chocolate milk for Kaminari, red tea for Jirou.
She isn't a touchy person in general, but she makes exceptions for them, linking arms with Kaminari or messing up Shinsou's hair when he's being extra annoying (not that it makes much of a difference).
She doesn't get flustered as often around Kaminari either. It's not that she doesn't like him anymore - on the contrary, it feels like she likes him more every day - but more the fact that she's comfortable around him. She'll drink from his waterbottle without thinking when she forgets her own. If she sees a hoodie on Kaminari's bed, she'll pick it up and wear it.
"That's actually my hoodie," Shinsou points out one day, listening to music with his earbuds in. Kaminari's beside him too, playing a game on his phone with his face scrunched up in concentration and his back leaning against Shinsou's arm. Jirou grabs one of the earbuds and sticks it in her ear, frowning.
"Heavy metal? I thought I taught you better than that," she chides, giving it back. She sniffs the hoodie and finds that it does indeed smell like Shinsou's cologne. "Huh, you're right. It used to be your hoodie, but now it's mine."
"I'll excuse that, since I still have your gloves," he sighs, and hands her the earbud. "Here, you like this song. I was on a shuffle mix."
"I'll forgive you this time," she says, settling in beside him and giving him half of her breakfast bar. "Kami, you want one too? I brought an extra."
"Sure," he says, and she reaches over Shinsou to hand it to him. "Thanks."
Bakugou walks into the common room, scowling at them. "Jesus, stop being so fucking domestic. I'm losing my appetite."
"Don't be grumpy, Explodokills," Shinsou says lightly, pausing the song. "You don't always have to project your internal unhappiness at everyone else, you know. Have a snickers."
"You're not you when you're hungry," Kaminari chimes in. They're friends, sure, but no one can pass up a good opportunity to rib at Bakugou. "Also thanks for helping me study for history yesterday!"
Bakugou grunts at this, grabs a protein shake from the fridge, and stomps out. Jirou doesn't think he's particularly angry; he just always stomps wherever he goes.
"The grand grump strikes again," Shinsou snorts when he's gone, and turns the music back on. Jirou listens, but her mind is stuck on the word domestic. Like a married couple. Except we're not even dating-
She thinks about it for a second. Well, we're kinda dating, besides for actual PDA stuff. She doesn't mind the lack of PDA, but somehow it feels like that's what solidifies a relationship. There's also the fact that Shinsou's here, but somehow it feels weirder to imagine him not being there. If I'm dating Kaminari, then so's he, by these standards at least.
She asks him later, when Kaminari's off getting tutored in math.
"Which one of us is winning the contest?" she asks, pulling at an ear jack.
Shinsou shrugs. "Did he confess to you?"
"Well, no, but-"
"Didn't confess to me either. So I guess we're both winning. Why, do you mind sharing?"
She stands on her tippy toes in order to pull his hood over his head. "No, just curious." A pause. "Is that something people do? Just... share?"
"I dunno, but if it's not, then we'll make it a thing. Seems like that's what Kaminari wants, and I'm cool with it." He yanks his hood off with a flourish. "Also there's miso soup at dinner tonight. I overheard one of the first years saying so."
Miso soup's her favorite. She shouldn't be surprised that Shinsou knows. "Thanks for letting me know," she says, then stands on her tippy toes again to kiss him on the cheek. Her face is burning up, but she forces her tone to stay casual. "Plenty of worse people to share with, I think. Like Bakugou."
"Or Monoma from class B," Shinsou says, putting a hand to his cheek. His face is also neutral, but his deep red ears give him away. "Real prick, that guy."
"Right? God, imagine having to share with Mineta."
"He's the perv I replaced, right? Never met him in person but I hear all sorts of awful things about him."
"Whatever the rumors are, he was worse."
They walk to the cafeteria together, and they go to their separate tables with their separate friends. But Jirou looks to him at one point, and he winks back at her, and somehow it feels like a promise.
I can do sharing, she thinks, sipping her soup with a small smile. Sharing is nice.
It's another month of this domestic pseudo-relationship before Kaminari speaks up.
"I like you both," he says out loud, in the soundproof safety of Jirou's room. He's laying on her bed beside her, while Shinsou does his homework on the floor like a responsible person. Jirou will get around to it, probably later. "In a romantic way. And I've thought about it a lot, and I can't just choose either one of you. So... sorry."
"We know," Shinsou snorts, not even looking up from his textbook. "You're not slick."
"We're not gonna make you choose, either," Jirou adds. "It'd be weird like that."
Kaminari blinks. Evidently, this is going better than he expected. "So you're not mad, or weirded out, or anything like that?"
"I'm just glad you told us at the same time," Shinsou says, stretching his legs before joining their manpile on the bed. Jirou moves a little to make room for him, then starts playing with his hair. There's just so much of it. "Pretty sure that makes us both winners, Jirou."
"The suspense was killing me," she says in response. Kaminari looks quizzically between the two of them, and Jirou kisses him lightly on the jaw, which is the only place she can reach right now, given that Shinsou's kind of crushing her. She moves to make herself comfortable and ends up under Shinsou's arm, pressed against Kaminari's side.
Jirou, Shinsou, Kaminari. All in a row, just as always.
"Long ago," Shinsou starts in a deep voice, "there was a boy with yellow hair named Kaminari who made everyone who saw him fall in love. He also sucked at fixing TVs-"
"Hey!" Kaminari interrupts. "I thought this was gonna be a nice story."
"Be patient," Shinsou says, pressing a finger to his lips. "Then one day there was a competition..." Jirou listens to the story, chiming in when she feels it's necessary. It doesn't feel possible, that they could both win, and yet... here they are.