Denki slides down against the cold tile wall of the bathroom in the very back corner and lets go of the breath he's been holding.
He really has to get a hang of his breathing again. In through his nose, out through his mouth, right? And slowly. He doesn't really know what brought this on to begin with, he doesn't know what to think about to get himself to calm down.
"Come on, get it together," he huffs to himself with a groan, pressing his hands up to his eyelids. Maybe he should splash water on his face or something. He told the band he was just going out to grab a jacket, he doesn't have time to sit around and force himself to breathe. He kind of wishes he just told them he was going to bed, but it was only seven in the evening. They wouldn't have bought that at all.
He doesn't have a clue why he started feeling like this. He's not generally a frantic person, he doesn't think, but for some reason, his head started spinning while he was practicing with everyone. Not for any real reason, either. He thinks he's getting the hang of guitar pretty well and he was having fun with everyone, but all of a sudden he couldn't handle it anymore.
He's starting to feel dizzy, so he leans his head back out of his hands and onto the wall behind him. He counts. He's not sure what he's supposed to be counting to but he's doing it anyway, he's heard it helps, but honestly, it's just starting to make him feel nauseous.
And as if he didn't have enough issues, he feels something drip from his nose.
Tokoyami's voice startles him. If he was expecting anyone, it certainly wasn't him, and not so soon. How long had he been in here, anyway? How did Tokoyami know this is where he was? He told them he'd be in his room.
He wipes the blood from his nose on his hand and then on his dark pants, hoping to get rid of the evidence.
Denki supposes he waited too long to say something, because Tokoyami pokes his head into the dorm's restroom, and his eyes widen just a bit when he sees Denki.
"Detour?" Denki tries, although he's not sure he could even come up with a real excuse. He doesn't want to tell Tokoyami what's really going on with him, because he doesn't even know himself.
"They're concerned about you," Tokoyami says, his hands stuffed in his pockets and looking cool as ever, walking further into the restroom.
"Fumikage is too!" Dark Shadow quips, suddenly appearing by his side. Tokoyami simply nods.
Denki's shoulders sink. They're concerned? He really didn't think it was super obvious that he was having any kind of issue. Maybe he was gone for too long. "Oh. I'm…I'm okay. Sorry, I didn't mean to like-"
"Don't apologize. Are you alright?" Tokoyami asks. He drifts down pretty smoothly with his legs crossed across from Denki as if he's telling him he doesn't have any intention of leaving without an explanation.
"Yeah, I'm - I'm cool," Denki murmurs with a shaky sigh, bringing his knees up to his chest. His eyes start to trace the tiles on the floor in an effort to avoid his friend's rather intense eye contact.
Tokoyami doesn't say anything for a few moments, and Denki would think from the outside that would make him nervous, but it doesn't. It gives him some time to get his breathing back into a normal rhythm, and he thinks Tokoyami realizes that.
When Denki looks back up to make eye contact again, Tokoyami looks much more concerned than he did a minute ago. He's waiting for an answer now. Denki's trying to think of something to say that doesn't sound like complete bullshit because Tokoyami isn't easy to fool.
"Sorry man," he murmurs, even after the latter told him not to apologize. "I just got super nauseous out of nowhere."
That's the best he can come up with. It's not entirely untrue and there's really no way Tokoyami can debunk that, and he doesn't try to. He just nods. Denki can't really ever tell what he's thinking, but he has a feeling that Tokoyami doesn't completely buy it.
Tokoyami suddenly stands back up and stretches a hand out to Denki. Denki's hesitant. He's not sure he really wants to go back to practice right now. He doesn't want to explain himself, he doesn't want to see anyone's worries.
"You should go lie down if you're not feeling well," Tokoyami suggests, and Dark Shadow makes a brief reappearance to nod fervently. He hadn’t really considered that as an option. He needs to practice, won’t he fall behind if he skips out on it? “You’re catching up very well with your guitar playing. I’m sure Jiro will understand.”
Man, can Tokoyami read minds or something?
“You sure?” he murmurs. “I really don’t wanna cause issues for you guys.”
“It’s no problem.”
Of course, there’s a nagging feeling in the back of Denki’s head telling him that he’s still inconveniencing them in some way, but he has to bring himself to stop thinking about it. He probably should just lay down.
He takes Tokoyami’s hand and the latter has him on his feet pretty quickly - he always forgets how strong this guy’s arms are, geez - and he walks out with him, leading the way. He really appreciates Tokoyami’s kindness. He really never expected them to be close friends when he first started at UA, but he’s glad they are.
Denki looks up. “Yeah?”
“If you ever need to talk about something, your classmates are always willing to listen.”
He drops his shoulders a bit. Part of him wants to just tell everything to Tokoyami right now. He's a good friend and Denki knows he would listen, but for some reason, he can't bring himself to do it. He doesn't even want to think about it.
"Thanks, man. I'll probably be fine if I just get some sleep," he decides. Who knows, maybe that will be the case after all.
Tokoyami just nods.
He can't remember exactly how their morning runs started. Denki's been doing them ever since they moved into the dorms, out of a worry he wasn't physically fast enough to keep up with most of their classmates. At some point he thinks Jiro started too out of the same concern, at a slightly different time than him - and slowly, their times just started to converge.
He likes it. Jiro's cool. She's never super expectant of him. She likes to poke fun at him sometimes, sure, but he usually doesn't see that from her outside of class. She's kind of different here in the mornings.
"I was thinking we just jog today," Jiro says when she lowers her arms from their stretch. They're both right outside the dorms, eyeing the illuminated paths that stretch out past them. She’s wearing a mask below her chin, but he doesn’t think too much of it. She does it out of habit sometimes.
"Yeah? I finally got my mile down to seven minutes, though," he says with a pout when he stands up.
"It's good to slow down sometimes, though," she tells him. That’s true, but the reason they do this is to speed up. "Do you wanna run?"
"Kinda. I feel like I need to get some energy out before school," Denki says. It usually works pretty well for that.
Jiro shrugs. "Go ahead. I'll probably jog," she says.
“See ya at the finish line, Jackie!”
She glares at him. “What does Bakugo call you again? Sparky? Dunce Face?” she asks as he starts to run.
“I can’t hear you!” he shouts, and he’s started down the path.
He’s secretly still a little on edge about what happened two nights ago when he left their practice so abruptly. Jiro didn’t say anything about it to him. He was half expecting some kind of joke from her, or at least a jab, but she didn’t mention it at all. They didn’t run yesterday, since it was Sunday - and he’s a little concerned that she might try to corner him about it now since it’s just them.
But she really is just jogging, he realizes when he turns his head. He looks forward again and focuses on his run.
He doesn’t really know what he’s so concerned about. It’s not like Jiro is going to berate him for leaving practice, she’s not that kind of person. Even if she was, she would’ve done it by now, right? Tokoyami was kind about the situation. He wonders if Tokoyami said anything to the others.
Jiro’s been kind to him in tough situations in the past. A few weeks ago he was hurt during a rescue exercise, and she stayed with him until someone could get to him. Sure, they were on the same team, but he can think of a few people that would have probably chosen the grade over helping him.
What if she was just doing that because it could be counted as part of a rescue exercise?
He really needs to stop thinking about all of this. If she was going to bring it up, she would have done it already. He needs to focus on breathing evenly while he’s running, he keeps forgetting that. But now, it feels like it’s too late to do any of that.
He feels like he's about to choke on his own breath, which doesn't make any sense. He's been doing perfectly fine on these runs. He finally managed to get his run time for a mile down to seven minutes the other day with no problem. Is it because of what happened the other day during band practice?
And in only a few seconds, he’s on his knees, trying desperately to breathe. It feels like someone dealt a blow to his chest and he doesn’t have any idea why.
"Let's sit down," Jiro's suddenly coming from behind him with a hand stretched out, and the look on her face makes his heart sink. He really hates people worrying about him.
"Nah, I'm -" he takes in a deep breath so he doesn't sound so scrambled. He didn’t realize he had slowed down enough for her to catch up with him. "I'm cool, promise, I'll just walk."
She frowns. "Your nose is bleeding.”
He takes her offer to help him stand back up. He just wipes at his nose with the back of his hand and hopes it ends there.
She’s still looking at him, but he can’t bring himself to make eye contact. This is so embarrassing. He just starts walking so he’s not as aware of her stare, and she follows. He needs to breathe. He counts in his head, but he’s too scrambled to even focus on that. He’s so frustrated with himself. Why can’t he just get it together? He’s fine. Nothing’s wrong.
Denki thinks he's hiding how he feels well enough to continue walking without Jiro noticing, but after walking only a few meters, Jiro takes his wrist and pulls him over to the nearest bench. He’s a little grateful for it. He probably needs to sit down.
He leans forward after he sits down, rests his elbows on his knees, and cups his face. He’s staring at the ground below him to try and get some semblance of himself back together.
Jiro does the same thing Tokoyami did the other night, except, there's suddenly a hand on his shoulder. He doesn't expect it to be as comforting as it is. Jiro isn't really the type to do something like that unless she's genuinely concerned. “You’re kinda scaring me,” she mumbles.
"Sorry, Jiro," he finally decides to say, leaning back enough for him to sit up. His head is still swimming, but it's calmed down. "Didn't mean to mess up the morning run."
"I honestly wasn't really up for running today anyway," she says. Denki's not sure if she really means that, or she's just saying that so he doesn't feel as bad about all this. "You sure you're doing okay though, Kaminari? What was that?"
"I'm cool. I think it's just - I dunno, my quirk acting up recently or something,” he mumbles. That’s all he can come up with at the moment. He focuses on his breathing again for a few moments. He’s starting to feel nauseous.
"I was gonna say, I thought you only get nosebleeds from your quirk. You should get checked out," she tells him. So she sort of bought whatever he just made up. "The same thing happened during our band practice the other day, didn't it?"
He's a little too embarrassed to agree to that, so he just shrugs. She doesn’t sound angry with him, but he doesn’t know what to say. So he doesn’t say anything.
They sit there for a few minutes in silence as the sun starts to light up the area. Denki feels like he's finally truly caught his breath, and he leans back against the bench.
"I have a doctor I see for my quirk, you know," Jiro says.
Denki looks over at her. "Yeah? For what?"
"Like…saying side effects feels weird, but I guess that's what it is. I get like, migraines and vertigo and stuff. From my quirk," she says that really casually. Denki doesn't think he knew about that at all. He thought it was just headaches and dizziness, but what she's saying is way more severe. "If you think it's something like that, there's people that can help. It's not worth it to just sit with it."
Denki sighs. She’s right, of course she is, but he doesn’t even know where to start. He has no idea what’s even going on with him. “I guess so. I just…I dunno,” he mumbles. He realized his answer is insanely vague.
"Who do you get your quirk from? Your mom?" Jiro asks.
He nods. "Yeah."
"You could try finding out what kind of stuff she deals with. It might help you a little."
"I would totally do that if she wasn't dead," he says nonchalantly.
He swears he's told her that before, but the silence leads him to the horrified look on her face, and it tells him that's maybe not the case.
"I'm - I'm sorry, Kaminari, I didn't mean to-"
"Wait, no, that was totally my fault. I swear I told you before," he says. To him, that was definitely a joke, but Jiro doesn't seem to find it funny. He makes dead mom jokes with Sero all the time. "It was a long time ago. It's seriously not a huge deal."
He does start to realize that it makes things like this a little more complicated. If his mom was around, he would totally be asking her why this is happening to him. Maybe she would know. His dad wouldn't have a clue, he's quirkless.
That answer didn’t seem to make Jiro feel any better. It looks like he’s scared her into silence, which is totally understandable. Jiro’s not really the kind of person who would like dead mom jokes, not that most people do.
"The nosebleeds usually only happen when I overdo it with my quirk, though," he tells her in an effort to change the topic.
"I think you’ve told me that,” she says with a little nod, “but you weren’t using your quirk, were you? Why does it usually happen, even?”
"Nuh-uh. I think it’s something to do with like, the stress on my body from the electricity. What happened earlier didn't feel like that, though,” he murmurs. He doesn’t know what it happens when he doesn’t use his quirk, but it’s definitely been getting worse recently.
"Maybe it's not related to your quirk," Jiro suggests with a shrug.
"Oh, what have I suddenly stumbled upon here!"
The sound of Ashido's voice in this distance has Jiro standing up immediately. Denki's half inclined to, but he's a little worried he might fall over if he stands up too fast.
"Your name has too many syllables for any of my rhymes, Kaminari," she randomly says upon approaching them.
"What rhyme?" Denki asks.
"Oh you know, something something, sitting in a tree…"
Ashido stops when she realizes Jiro's earphone jacks are a couple of centimeters from her pupils. "Since when do you do morning runs? Ashido?" she grumbles.
" Ashido? Are we not friends anymore?" Ashido whines.
"I'm gonna have to think about it."
Ashido giggles to herself when Jiro sits back down on the bench. Her attention turns back to Denki, and suddenly, she’s frowning and handing him a tissue.
"You okay, Kami? Your nose is bleeding," Ashido tells him with a pout.
"Still?" he sighs, taking it and dabbing his nose. It doesn’t feel fresh.
"No, that's still there from before," Jiro informs him.
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"Oh. Yeah, I like, ran straight into a pole," he decides to say, trying to wipe away whatever was left from before.
He sees Jiro frown in his peripheral at his decision to lie to Ashido. He should probably tell Ashido the truth - she's his friend too, but he doesn't want to explain all of that right now. He’s already starting to stress himself out over it again.
Honestly, the only reason Jiro knows now is because she saw it all. He doesn't want to tell anyone.
"You need to be more careful, then!" Ashido chides. He's a little surprised that she believed him, but he supposes he doesn't have any reason to think he's lying. That's good for him, at least.
Denki has successfully avoided elaborating on his situation, and the three of them end up simply walking back to the dorms.
It's almost like Jiro accidentally proves her earlier point when they're at school.
She's dead silent after they all get to their first class, and despite the fact that she's normally shy, silence is pretty uncharacteristic for her. Even when Denki addresses her directly, she doesn't give him any verbal answers. He wonders if she's just tired, but she seemed fine that morning, mostly. He’s definitely concerned.
After their second class, Ashido and Yaoyorozu are there first to check on her. Denki is pulled into some side conversation with Kirishima and Sero, and by the time he has a moment to even look at Jiro, her seat is empty. And it stays that way for the rest of the day.
He's tempted to text her to find out if she’s okay, but through a conversation with Yaoyorozu and Ashido after lunch, he finds out from them that it was a migraine, and she was sent back to the dorms to rest.
It gets him thinking. Jiro mentioned that exact thing earlier that morning. The fact that she deals with migraines and vertigo makes total sense. Her quirk is basically super hearing at its core. An important sense being heightened like that is bound to affect her in other ways.
He spends most of the time during their hero training thinking about it. It’s the first day of a split training session, and he’s pretty sure he won’t get to go on today anyway, so his mind is anywhere but focused. He’s convinced that sorting out what Jiro is dealing with will help him figure out his own situation.
He doesn’t really know specifics, but for the sake of figuring things out in his head, he’s decided Jiro can hear five times as much as he can. That seems pretty reasonable. That would mean everything else connected to her hearing is five times the amount, too. If Denki were to spin around ten times, he’d probably be a normal level of dizzy, but if Jiro did the same, she probably wouldn’t be able to stand up for a while because of how that kind of stuff messes up a person’s ears. She probably gets pretty bad motion sickness too for that same reason. Some people get headaches from being in loud places for too long, Jiro would get a migraine.
Denki wonders if this is the same for him. He’s never really thought about it too hard, but his health is affected by his quirk, too. His hands go numb when he overdoes it with his quirk, and he’s definitely passed out a few times from that, too, but it’s not the same as with Jiro. Those are just normal things that are worsened simply because she has that quirk.
So what exactly is the normal thing that’s worse, right now?
Denki already knew Jiro wasn't going to be in class because she was M.I.A all day at the dorms yesterday and she didn't show up for their run that morning, but Tokoyami's seat is empty, too. Apparently, he had a dentist appointment, which confused Denki for a good while because he couldn't remember if Tokoyami had human teeth at all, but that would be a really weird question to ask anyone else. He decides to just accept that truth.
Denki doesn't want Jiro to be thrown off by him texting her privately, but he's still a little worried. He’s been thinking about it a little too much because of his own situation, so he pulls his phone out while their teacher drones on about hero history He can’t focus anyway.
That’s what he’s able to sneak in before receiving a suspicious glare from Mr. Aizawa. Denki seems to dash the suspicion quickly enough for their teacher to focus on something else.
The screen of his phone lights up in his lap not long after that, and he sees a message from Jiro flash across the screen.
And then, another one.
That’s strange. She’s usually not the kind of person to go and say things like that just because. Great, now he’s gone and worried her with the crap he pulled yesterday morning. Doesn’t she have enough to deal with?
“Kaminari. Would you like to give a call to whoever you’re texting and ask them to answer this question?” Mr. Aizawa sighs. Denki’s already scrambling to stuff his phone back in his pocket and his face is definitely red, but he only shakes his head in response.
“Sorry, sir,” he mumbles, taking his pencil in his hand and spinning it a few times. He’s looking at his empty note page that almost seems to be mocking him as their teacher continues his lecture, and his stomach drops even further than it just did. They have a test on this unit at the end of the week, he should really start getting himself together and focus, but he can’t.
He kind of wishes Jiro was there to kick his ass. Maybe not literally, but she’s pretty good at getting him to stay on task.
She can’t always do that, though. He needs to start getting his ass in gear himself.
Denki really doesn’t think he’s ready for their training today. Part of him is already considering asking their teacher if he can sit this one out, but he really needs the practice. He can’t get in the habit of giving up when things are too difficult.
He's pretty sure Tokoyami and Jiro are the only ones that know about the issue he's having, and he's horrified it's going to happen in some sort of way that all of his classmates would find out at once. He's getting nauseous even thinking about it. He wants to lay down. He’s exhausted, for some reason, but is he, actually? Or is his brain just trying to come up with excuses?
“The next team is up,” Mr. Aizawa announces. “Seat seven and seventeen. You have two minutes to strategize. When the bell goes off, begin.”
Seventeen is Bakugo’s seat number. Why Bakugo, of all people?
Denki has a pretty good idea of how these training exercises work because he’s gotten to watch a handful of the other pairs go. It’s a rescue. They get two minutes to come up with a plan after they get a briefing on the situation. Wherever they end up appearing, they have to find three dummies and get them out in ten minutes.
He’s a little overwhelmed by the idea. Denki doesn’t think his quirk is very well suited for this kind of hero work, and he’s not really sure that Bakugo’s is either, but Bakugo is smart enough to think of good applications for it. He always knows what to do. Denki’s afraid he’s gonna completely fail this and Bakugo will leave him in the dust.
It’s Denki’s own fault if he can’t keep up. He has to remember that.
Their briefing shows up on the screen. Denki hardly has time to read it before they’re ushered onto the training ground, being led to their location by one of the little campus robots.
Situation: Floor sixteen is on fire. There are three civillians on floor ten. Find them and remove them from the building in ten minutes before the building caves in.
“Are we just assuming they’re all alive? Some of the other teams got dead dummies,” Denki starts nervously. This whole thing is making his head spin. He knows it isn’t real, but it is
“The fire is only six floors up. They might all be dead from smoke inhalation. We don’t know how long the fire has been there,” Bakugo says like it’s totally obvious. Denki hasn’t really had time to mentally sort out the details. “We’re getting the civillians whether they’re dead or alive. You can’t leave families without something to grieve.”
Bakugo always takes these things insanely seriously. Normally, Denki would think it’s funny, but that line sends a chill down his spine. He hates this. He doesn’t want to do this. He doesn’t want to imagine this is real. Of course it’s just training. He knows that. But this could be his reality one day, and he doesn’t know that he’s equipped to deal with that.
“If the electricity is out you need to find the breaker and recharge it,” Bakugo says. They’re nearing the building. Denki can smell the smoke.
“What if it’s an electitcal fire?” Denki asks. That’s a problem that he’s run into before.
“Take the risk. We can’t find bodies in the dark.”
So Denki does just that. They separate almost immediately when the bell goes off, and Denki doesn’t feel the urgency right away. It seems like a normal hotel floor, with the lights cut out. He’ll be lucky if it’s on this floor at all. Does Bakugo want him to explore other floors if he can’t find it? Is he making it his priority to find the bodies? Should Denki give up if he can’t find it fast enough?
Aren’t there firefighters that should be doing this kind of stuff?
By the time he finds the breaker, he thinks it’s already been about two minutes. He opens it and sifts through the jumbled mess of wires, finding out pretty quickly that it’s not an electrical fire, luckily for him. He’s charging it up, but his hands are shaking, twitching as he does so. He doesn’t have a clue why.
And then he feels that damn blood drip down from his nose.
Bakugo is suddenly next to him, a dummy pulled over his shoulder like it weighs nothing. Those things are like two hundred pounds, Denki doesn’t have any idea how he’s doing that so easily, but then again, it’s Bakugo. He’s a beast.
"I get nosebleeds all the time," Denki claims outright, not pulling his eyes away from the breaker, but still painfully aware of the way Bakugo is staring at him.
"The hell you do," he huffs.
Denki's not really sure if that means he's agreeing with him or not, but he wouldn't know what to respond with either way. Bakugo's kind of the last person he needs to be confronted by right now.
The indication light on the dummy is green from what he can tell, meaning the civilian is still alive. If it’s off completely, it means they’re dead. Denki has a feeling that’s what they’re going to be finding today, especially with the way the smoke is starting to billow into the halls.
The lights finally come on, and he breaks off from Bakugo to head out in the other direction without another word. Bakugo doesn’t follow him.
He checks the first few rooms, running back and forth between the halls. Smoke is already starting to fill the halls and the rooms are getting hot. The fire is getting closer. God, ten minutes isn’t nearly enough time for this, he’s sure their time is already halfway up by now. What if they just leave with the one body Bakugo found? Should Denki be looking in these rooms harder?
He starts opening the doors within the rooms - closets, bathrooms, that kind of thing - at a speed and urgency he doesn’t think he’s done before. Ten minutes is seriously too short, and he really wants to get out of here. He knows that they won’t be crushed, they wouldn’t let that happen, but why is he so freaked out right now? His chest hurts so much that it’s getting hard to breathe.
When he opens one of the closet doors, he sees a dummy. The life indication light isn’t on.
All of a sudden, his senses are completely overwhelmed by the memories of what happened during their summer camp training, just a couple of months ago. That same heat and smoke that he’s feeling right now, only tinged blue from the flames of that League member that got way too close to them. Denki has never felt more helpless in his entire life than he did then, but for some reason, that is doing the opposite of motivating him right now.
Every time he blinks, the dummy he’s faced with flashes back and forth between what it actually is, and Jiro’s completely unconscious form from that gas attack.
God, he really thought she was dead. Her breaths were so shallow he almost didn’t see them, not until Kirishima confirmed she had a pulse.
"She's fine, Kaminari, she's okay," Kirishima tried to convince him, but Denki couldn't breathe for a few seconds. They already knew Bakugo was missing back then, he didn't have any reason to believe they wouldn't kill Jiro too, he didn't know why they were after their class. He hasn't been able to move past that, and he doesn't know why.
About nine doors down, he’s bracing himself against the doorway and coughing. He doesn’t think he’s been bothered by the smoke in their training exercises before, he’s pretty sure it’s not really real smoke, but with the way his chest has been hurting recently, maybe it’s got something to do with his lungs. It’s so bad now that he’s on his knees and he can barely hold himself up. He’s too dizzy.
When he pulls his hand away from his mouth, the sight of the red splatter in his palm makes his head spin even faster. That's not right, that can't be right. Did he just cough up blood?
God, what’s with Bakugo and showing up at the worst times today? Denki wants to answer him, but he can't. He feels like he's about to pass out. His chest hurts so bad that he thinks for a few seconds that he's dying - he knows it's ridiculous but it's scary. He hadn't felt this bad in a really long time. What is he supposed to do?
He hears Aizawa saying something in their earpieces, but he can't make out what he's saying at all. He's realizing pretty quickly that with his breath caught and his hearing muffled and the way his vision is blurring, he's actually going to pass out.
Is Bakugo carrying him?
He is. Denki's still pretty disoriented, so he’s not entirely sure, but after a few seconds of trying to force his eyes open, he can definitely confirm that Katsuki Bakugo is carrying him in his arms. It’s a much smoother ride than Denki would have expected it to be.
"You're going to Recovery Girl,"
Bakugo tells him. He doesn’t even look down to make eye contact, but he must be able to tell somehow that he’s awake without looking. Hold on, Denki doesn’t need to go to Recovery Girl. He’s mostly fine, it was just the smoke that threw him off. He just needed a second to collect himself. He’s probably fine now, actually.
"Bakugo, it's really not a big deal -" Denki manages to choke out before he’s coughing again.
"I didn't ask if you wanted to go. I’m sick of you pretending nothing’s wrong."
That’s a strange comment to make. Denki doesn’t really think he’s the kind of person to do that. He just doesn’t like bothering his friends with his issues, is that really such a bad thing? Bad enough for Katsuki Bakugo of all people to point out, holding him in his arms?
Okay, there's no arguing with this guy. Denki's not sure why he thought he had a chance. He closes his eyes for a few seconds, hoping to blink away the dizziness. He hears Aizawa not too far behind him. It sounds like he’s talking to someone else, but Denki can’t really make out who, exactly.
Bakugo sits him up on the first cot in the infirmary, and Denki almost falls forward. He can’t hold himself up at all, he doesn’t have the strength to right now. He hears Tokoyami in his head. You should go lie down if you’re not feeling well. He really wants to do that. In his own bed. He probably should have done that a while ago.
Somebody lays him back and against the cot. It looks like Mr. Aizawa, but his vision’s so blurry that he can’t really tell, so he just closes his eyes again. He's really tired.
“You need to stay awake for a minute,” the voice says again. That’s definitely Mr. Aizawa. Denki feels a weight return to his chest again. Is he in trouble? Did he mess up his grade, and Bakugo’s too?
He keeps his eyes open the best he can, but he feels himself nodding off every few seconds. Recovery Girl must have done something to him already, there’s no reason for him to be this tired, and he does feel a little better. He wishes he was in his own bed.
"I see that your nose was bleeding, but this is a common side effect from your quirk, yes?" he hears Recovery Girl ask him right as she starts to examine him.
Denki just nods. He really doesn’t have the energy to explain all of that right now. She hums back at his response and continues, mostly in silence. She’s getting his heart rate right now, he thinks.
Bakugo stands in the doorway the entire time Recovery Girl is examining him. Denki fully expected him to leave as soon as he made sure he got there, but he doesn't even look like he intends to, from what Denki can tell. That’s surprising. Denki’s not really sure what just happened to him, but he doesn’t think he’s messed up enough to warrant the full attention of Bakugo, of all people.
Recovery Girl clicks her tongue. “The smoke shouldn’t have caused this. That smoke has been tested for student safety hundreds of times. Does he have asthma? Or a lung condition of any kind?”
“Not to my knowledge,” his teacher says. Denki had asthma when he was a kid, but he hasn’t had any of those issues since elementary school, he’s pretty sure. It wouldn’t just randomly come back, would it? No, it didn’t feel like an asthma attack, anyway.
“So strange…I suppose we can send him to a specialist,” Recovery Girl starts to say, but Denki needs to shut that down immediately. He's fine, he just freaked out for a second, but they don't need to know the details.
“I don’ have anything like that,” he manages, “I think I was just breathin’ too fast.”
Recovery Girl looks surprised to hear that answer. Aizawa’s face is completely impossible to read in most situations, but Denki has a feeling he’s not on his side with this one.
"Well…everything looks relatively normal, given the situation. You may just need to get some rest."
Part of Denki is a little disappointed to hear that. He wanted Recovery Girl to say something like, oh, look, here! A simple answer to why all of these things have been happening to you recently, conveniently paired with a quick solution. But of course, nothing is ever that easy.
“You can stay here or go back to the dorms. Your choice,” Aizawa tells him as Recovery Girl shuffles back into her office.
Denki doesn’t completely hear that sentence, but the idea of being back at the dorms sounds really nice right now. He’s already looking forward to passing out tangled in his comfy sheets. Free of anyone staring at him like this. He must have mumbled something about it, because Aizawa starts to help him up off the cot.
He can’t really hold himself up when he gets on his feet for the first few seconds. Aizawa keeps him steady but Denki tries to break off after a handful more seconds. He’s okay. He’s fine. He’s just tired, and he’ll feel better when he wakes up.
"Don't overdo it next time, Sparky,” Bakugo grumbles from his spot in the doorway.
"I'll try, Lord Explosion Murder," Denki tells him, rubbing at his eyes. Sure, that’s what he’ll go with. He just overdid it.
Bakugo huffs. "I'm serious."
"I am too! That's your hero name, isn't it?" Denki jokes.
Bakugo rolls his eyes. Denki really never thought Bakugo of all people would be worried about him, even though it was a little hard to tell.
Aizawa escorts him back to the dorms to rest. He's silent most of the way there, like usual, expect the occasional eye contact to make sure he's not about to make friends with the pavement, which is fair enough.
He really feels fine, other than the fatigue from Recovery Girl’s quirk, but Aizawa almost threatened him into not coming back to class. Denki is not of sound mind to refute anything Mr. Aizawa says, so he simply agrees, and falls back into his bed.
Of course, as soon as he does that, he hears his phone buzz. God, did he turn that stupid vibrate on?
Oh, it’s from Jiro. He holds his phone over his face. Did he text her earlier? Why is she messaging him?
Denki forgot there's absolutely no sneaking around possible with Jiro on the same floor as him. He feels a little bad for disturbing her, but that was inevitable. Part of him thinks he should just ignore it, but he doesn't really like being completely alone with his thoughts.
He doesn't know what to say. Telling her oh yeah, I coughed up blood and passed out during a training exercise and they sent me home is definitely not the right move, not in any scenario.
Denki decides on that and sends the message. He thinks that's pretty believable, but Jiro's crazy good at singling out lies. He thinks sometimes that she can hear his thoughts, too. He’s lucky this is just a text conversation.
His heart sinks. Of course, that tells him more than enough, either she doesn’t really believe him or she thinks he’s not telling the whole story. Jiro’s really not the kind of person to ask those sort of questions if she’s not concerned.
He turns over in his bed and sighs, shutting off his phone for a few seconds. That feeling in his chest is coming back. He wants to be honest with Jiro. Honestly, he’d really just like to go sit down and talk to her, because she listens and she’s a good friend. He doesn’t think she would judge him for what’s going on, but there’s a voice in the back of his head telling him that he’s being ridiculous.
What if she laughs at him? What if none of this makes any sense and he’s being dramatic over nothing? He couldn’t bother her right now. She’s still out from school, obviously she’s still not doing well. Why is he even letting her be concerned about something that doesn’t matter?
He doesn't like to hang onto this kind of stuff anyway, so he decides to change the subject. He's still really sleepy, maybe he should rest. He hears Tokoyami in the back of his head again. It’s not a bad idea.
Is he stupid for missing her? Man, he’s just sulking in his room when he could be in class with his friends, but for some reason, even the thought of that makes that feeling in his chest a little heavier. He’s not sure he wants to talk to anyone at all right now.
He’s getting really tired. He doesn’t even bother changing, even though, he’s pretty sure it’s against the rules for them to take their hero costumes back to the dorms.
He’s pretty sure he falls asleep with his phone in his hand.
Denki’s pretty sure he short circuits for a second as soon as he realizes it’s dark outside when he wakes up again.
He scrambles for his phone in the dark, and of course, he can’t find it. He’s a pretty restless sleeper and ends up on the floor a lot of the time, so he just decides he’ll find his phone some other time, because right now, he really has to pee.
He really doesn’t have any idea what time it could be, and he groans at the idea that he’s missed that much time for him to be doing homework. That wasn’t the first time Recovery Girl had worked on him, so he should know better than to take a nap without setting an alarm. He’s such an idiot sometimes. He closes the door to his bathroom and sighs.
He decides he should probably change into something else. He doesn’t want the others to start asking weird questions if he appears in the common area in his hero costume that he never took off. How the hell did he even fall asleep with all of his gear on? How did he never come to the idea to take that off?
When he finally changes, he realizes there’s this pinching pain in his left arm from his gear. He probably slept on it weird, because the pain is going from his wrist to his elbow, and it doesn’t go away after he tries to stretch it out. Man, he really wishes he could be a TENS unit for himself. That would be super helpful.
He trudges down the hall in his Mount Lady pajama pants and one of his miscellaneous lightning bolt t-shirts, without any idea what time it could be. He can’t read the analog clocks in the hallways. Yaoyorozu has tried to teach him how, but for some reason, he just can’t get it. He just doesn’t bother asking anymore, it’s kind of embarrassing.
The clocks have been getting sort of fuzzy anyway. Does he need glasses? He groans and resists the urge to bang his head against the wall when he gets into the elevator. Doesn’t he have enough to deal with right now?
He kind of hopes his classmates aren’t downstairs, but he’s not sure why else he would he going down there. Why is he nervous? The feeling starts to turn into nausea when he makes it to the bottom floor, but that can’t be right. Maybe he’s just hungry.
Of course they’re all here.
Ashido’s the first one to grab him from the elevator, and Denki rubs his eyes, not expecting it to be so bright in the common area. Hopefully that means it’s not too late after all. He realizes a little too late that Ashido is talking to him as she pulls him over to the rest of the group, but he just awkwardly chuckles and nods, hoping that’s sufficient enough.
His friends all look concerned, of course they are. Denki hopes he doesn’t have to elaborate on anything. “What time is it?” he mumbles, but he doesn’t think anyone heard him,
"Bakugo really needs to chill next time!" Sero huffs. Denki decides on sitting next to him, and he realizes that they all have their school work out. Bakugo doesn’t seem to be around, so that at least means that it’s past eight.
Denki raises a brow. Wait, what did Bakugo do?
"Like, in general?" Denki asks, his head tilted. He thought they all knew that.
"He knocked you out, earlier? Did you forget?" Kirishima asks from across the table. He looks a little concerned about the fact that Denki doesn’t remember that, but, that’s not what happened.
Bakugo didn't knock him out. The only time Bakugo was close enough to even do that was when he was carrying him to the infirmary, and he remembers him being very gentle about that. Why do they think Bakugo knocked him out?
“That’s what he told us. Maybe he was exaggerating,” Ojiro shrugs.
“Oh gosh, hopefully you don’t have a concussion or something!” Hagakure chimes in, bringing him a floating glass of water.
The chatter around him continues, but Denki’s eyes catch three of his classmates heading to the elevators. Yaoyorozu and Uraraka are both talking to Jiro, who’s mostly concealed by her hoodie. She looks really tired. Denki wants to go and ask how she's doing, or at least make sure she’s okay, but the idea makes him a little nervous. She definitely doesn’t look any better.
He only makes eye contact with her very briefly as the elevator doors close and take the three of them upstairs.
“Is Jiro okay?” Denki asks to anyone who will answer him. He realizes a little too late that he took Ashido’s seat, but she tells him not to worry about it and she moves her stuff to sit beside Hagakure.
“I think so. Yaomomo and Uraraka are trying to convince her to see a doctor, I think,” Sero answers, looking around the room for the three of them. He probably didn’t see them leave. “You know her. She’s kinda stubborn,”
Denki just hums in response. He can definitely agree with that, he thinks it’s a miracle she agreed to perform for the school festival. Getting her to see a doctor is a whole other story.
“She’ll be alright! I think it’s just some quirk stuff she’s dealing with,” Ashido tells him with a reassuring smile. And with that, Yaoyorozu appears back into the common area, and Denki is suddenly reminded of what they’re doing. “Do you wanna study with us, Kami? We’re doing yesterday’s homework. For math.”
“Oh - I finished it already,” he blurts out without even really thinking, and as Yaoyorozu approaches the table, she looks surprised to hear that.
“Look at you! Gettin’ it together and all that,” Sero says, playfully smacking his shoulder. “Is that what you were doin’ up there?”
“Yeah, just, uh…took a nap and then finished my homework,” he says, trying to be as nonchalant as possible, and no one seems to bat an eye except for Yaoyorozu. She looks the tiniest bit suspicious, but apparently not enough to say anything. She just smiles at him.
“Would you like me to make you something to eat, Kaminari? You missed lunch, didn’t you?” Yaoyorozu asks, and he only then realizes he’s only had breakfast today. He is really hungry, but how together would he look if he’s forgotten to eat this whole time? They would totally catch on and realize he’s been asleep all day. “I’ll make you something. Is ramen okay?”
Denki’s shoulders sink when he realizes he sat there silent for long enough to Yaoyorozu to decide for him. If he rejected her offer now, he’d just look like an ass. “Um…yeah, that’s cool. Thanks, Yaomomo.”
“Of course! Any time,” she says as she whisks herself into the kitchen. “If anyone needs my assistance please call my name!”
“Yes ma’am!” The group answers. Denki’s chest hurts. He wants to go back to sleep.
The next day, Tokoyami's back in class, but Jiro's still missing.
He texted her the night before to ask if she would be at their run the next morning, and he never got a response. Jiro's not the kind of person to do that, he's noticed, so he’s been pretty concerned that she was just feeling that bad.
He learns from Ashido as they’re getting into class that she ended up going to the doctor early that morning, as per Yaoyorozu's suggestion, because she hadn't been getting any better. They think she was dealing with a bad ear infection that was only amplified by her quirk - Denki feels terrible for her. Ear infections suck enough as they are. Hopefully she’s feeling better now.
It's the end of the day, and Denki has that feeling in his chest again. He wants to go back to the dorm and lay down, but he has a lot to do. He spent the entire time that his friends were studying last night, just goofing around and distracting them, all because he has made up some stupid lie. And now he had absolutely nothing done, and they had a test next week.
He ended their math class without anything in his notebook, and for some reason, even looking at it makes him feel nauseous. He knows he could totally just go home and forget about it, but he can’t. He has so much to do, so much to catch up on. What on earth does he think he’s doing, falling behind like this? What’s the point of being at a school like UA if he can’t stay on task?
"We have a unit test next week. I would suggest to find someone to help tutor you," Aizawa tells him when they’re dismissed from class. Denki just nods, and realizes he only has one option.
Denki waits at his desk after Mr. Aizawa leaves, and has his eyes on the only person who can really help him now. She has her things placed very maticulously on her desk and she puts them back in her bag in a certain order every time, and she always starts over if she gets distracted. She’s usually the last one to leave, and because of that, the two of them are the last ones left in the classroom.
Denki makes sure he at least waits to get her attention until she’s buckling her bag closed.
"Yes?" she says, turning almost immediately. Her smile is warm and gentle like it always is, and Denki almost feels bad for bothering her.
"Do you…do you think you could help me with what we learned today? For math?"
"Oh yes, of course I can!" she nods as she stands up. She always looks so happy to help, even though she probably knows how behind Denki really is. "I was planning on going to the library anyway. Would you like to join me now?"
“Is that cool?” he asks, nervously tugging at a strap hanging from his bag.
“Of course it is! I’m always happy to help you, Kaminari,” she reassures him. It’s almost like she knew he needed to hear that. He relaxes a tiny bit. Why are girls so good at reading minds?
Denki follows her to the library.
His mind is swirling with a hundred thoughts, trying to get everything that he needs to do in order. He has that math assignment, it’s probably a ten page study guide slash work book type of thing, on a unit he’s had a really hard time understanding. There’s a reading assignment too on hero laws where they have to read a few pages of news clippings and write some paragraphs about what was illegal and what wasn’t.
As he’s trying to remember things, he’s having trouble separating what he’s already done with what’s due, and he panics and remembers a thing or two he hasn’t turned in. Were they even due yet? He can’t remember. He really should start keeping track of what he needs to do. Yaoyorozu has this really nice planner that she’s shown him before, and he should probably do something like that, but writing things down doesn’t help if he’s not smart enough to do the assignments.
Yaoyorozu’s super smart. She knows everything and knows how to explain everything even better, she’d make a really good teacher. She has everything together. Denki doesn’t even know where to start.
"Are you feeling okay? After what happened yesterday?" she asks very gently when they find a table at the library to sit down at. She’s even nice enough to pull a chair out for him.
Denki sighs, dropping his bag beside the table. Yaoyorozu has started removing her things from her bag in the usual order, and Denki doesn’t want to distract her, but she’s looking at him for an answer. "Yeah - yeah, I'm cool. It wasn't a huge deal."
"Coughing up blood is rather serious, isn't it?" she asks, a look of concern overtaking her face, seemingly forgetting what she was doing initially.
His eyes widen a little bit. How did she know that's what happened? He panics for a moment, worried that the entire thing was caught on camera for them all to see after all. He thought they all believed that Bakugo had knocked him out. That’s what it seemed like, based on the study group from last night.
"Tokoyami asked Bakugo what happened. He was concerned after you left practice abruptly the other day," she says with a frown. "He noticed you were back at the dorms early."
He can feel knots forming in his stomach. He didn’t see Tokoyami at all yesterday. "Oh."
"And, Tokoyami told me as well. I apologize, Kaminari, I don't want you to think we're talking about you without your knowledge," Yaoyorozu tells him.
"Oh, no, it's - it's cool."
Bakugo told Tokoyami, huh? Is he worried, too?
It seems like Yaoyorozu’s forgotten where she was with unpacking her things. She stares for a moment before she gives the tiniest frustrated sigh, and she starts putting everything back. Denki has successfully distracted her.
He doesn’t really know why she does that. He doesn’t think studying materials need to appear in a certain order, but if that’s what works for her, he’s definitely not going to judge. He’s the one at the bottom of the class.
He starts to get his own things out and makes sure to keep his mouth shut until Yaoyorozu has finished unpacking her things so she doesn’t have to start over. His folders are really unorganized, so it takes him a couple of minutes to find all of his assignments, but he finally manages. It’s only three total after all, which is a huge relief, but they’re not easy assignments by any stretch of the word.
Yaoyorozu has definitely noticed the math assignment he claimed to have finished last night is lying there on the table.
"I am still concerned about your health," she reiterates, her brow furrowed as she sits down. That’s not what he was expecting her to say.
His shoulders sink. He doesn’t want her to worry. "I get nosebleeds all the time, it was probably just…an extension of it or something. Recovery Girl said I was fine."
If he really starts dumping his situation on her, he’ll probably start crying. He doesn’t need that right now. He’s hoping all of his problems will go away if he finishes all of his work. Then he’ll have a chill weekend. Everything’s fine.
She nods, but doesn’t seem entirely satisfied with his answer. "I suppose that makes sense."
Yaoyorozu drops the subject, and they start studying. They begin with the hero law assignment, with Yaoyorozu is kind enough to walk him through as if she’s presenting it to him for the first time. It helps him understand it a little better. She starts to read off the newspaper clippings included to him, instead of making him read them himself.
Now, he feels guilty. Does she not think he’s smart enough to read them himself? Or maybe he’s too slow, and he would be wasting her time by reading them? He shakes his head to get those thoughts out, because if she’s taking the time to do this then he needs to focus, and he’s somewhat able to do that.
“The public quirk use thing always confuses me. Like, I know for you and me it’s pretty clear, but like, what about Jiro? How do they even regulate that?” he asks, a relevant question to the clipping she just read - using mutant quirks in public.
“It is rather confusing, isn’t it? I’m not too sure myself,” she shrugs. Denki’s honestly surprised she doesn’t have an immediate answer to that. “Perhaps that is a question you can pose in your response.”
Denki nods. That’s not a bad idea. He thinks he’s pretty good at the hero law stuff, and he can probably give his response pretty well, so he starts writing.
He finishes the assignment himself pretty quickly. Or at least, quickly enough for him. He doesn’t have any distractions. The library is quiet and Yaoyorozu busies herself with a book that she angles so that Denki can’t peek, and he knows that if he lets himself get distracted in any way, she’ll put him back on track. Why doesn’t he do this more often?
But of course, it’s not always this easy. He dreads finishing this assignment, because next, Yaoyorozu asks him to take out the math assignment. That confusing feeling is back, and this time it’s paired with something that he can’t distinguish between nausea or hunger.
She starts with the first few questions, giving him the formula he needs to answer them, and a nifty way to remember it, too. So, Denki’s pretty sure he’s dyslexic, but it’s not debilitating like math is. He can’t tell apart these numbers most of the time, and even if Yaoyorozu gives him the most helpful tips to remember these formulas in the world, Denki will still mix them up.
And he does that, on the third question. Yoayorozu kindly corrects him after he finishes writing it down, but Denki’s still embarrassed.
"Are you anxious?" Yaoyorozu asks.
Denki's thrown off by her question. "Huh? No, I'm cool."
"You've been bouncing your leg the whole time," she says gently, gesturing to it.
He looks down and sure enough, she's right, his right leg is still bouncing he didn’t even notice. He stops it immediately and looks back to Yaoyorozu, who is still giving him that sympathetic smile.
"I dunno. I just do that sometimes," he shrugs. He only realizes when people point it out, usually because it’s annoying. Which is fair. "I don't think I'm anxious or anything."
"If you're certain," she says.
Is he certain?
He's never thought of himself as an anxious person. Sure, he gets nervous about stuff sometimes, but doesn't everyone? It’s not like he has anxiety. He can talk to people and ask questions in class. That’s what that is, right? He’s not anxious, he’s just - an idiot.
He tries his hand at the fourth question, but now his brain is preoccupied with Yaoyorozu’s question, and she seems to realize that.
"If anxiety were something you were dealing with…or anything, if you’re dealing with anything at all, Kaminari," she begins very kindly, "I'm certain everyone would be very understanding and accommodating."
"I just don't want to be a problem, y'know?" Denki mumbles without even really thinking. She’s too nice. She’s always so kind and encouraging, and she’s helped him in situations like this before, but this is different. He can't describe the look on Yaoyorozu's face, but it makes him wish he hadn't said anything.
Tokoyami had said this to him a few days ago, too, but he just brushed it off. He thinks he’s at the point where he doesn’t want to keep it to himself anymore. It hurts.
"Let me see…think about, Kyoka, for example. We know she's easily overwhelmed due to her quirk," Yaoyorozu states. Jiro seems to be the topic of examples today. Denki nods. "If she’s feeling overwhelmed, she has her noise canceling headphones. When she has them on, she’s less overwhelmed, and everyone understands not to bother her until she takes them off again. Do you see that as a problem?”
“N-no, ‘course not,” he says.
“Yes, exactly. Even when Kyoka is being stubborn, we make it a point to help her. I doubt she would have gone to the doctor today if it weren’t for Ochaco and I convincing her, but we would have only known to help her because we knew she wasn’t feeling well. She communicated that to us.”
Denki chews on the inside of his cheek
“You guys are really good friends to her,” he says quietly.
“You’re very kind yourself, Kaminari,” she tells him with a tiny smile. “Do you…are you aware of my OCD?”
Denki raises a brow. She wasn’t expecting her to say that. He’s heard his classmates joke about it before - Yaomomo’s super OCD , that kind of thing, but he never thought about it more than that. It definitely explains a lot of the things she does. He shakes his head.
She smiles. “And you still waited until I finished packing my things, so you didn’t distract me?”
Denki nods a few times. “Well, yeah, I - I’ve made you start over on accident before, and, I feel bad. Is that…a part of OCD?”
“It is. I suppose I’ve created this pattern myself, but I’ve gone and convinced myself it needs to be done the same way every time or else…well…” Yaoyorozu sighs with a nod. “It’s affected many other parts of my life, but…see, even with this small part of it, even as you didn’t know, you were kind enough to not distract me. You didn’t see it as a problem, even though to most, it is.”
“How come you didn’t say anything before?” he asks. She just mentioned the importance of communication, and yet, this is the first he’s heard about that diagnosis.
“It’s a bit more complicated, I suppose…I’ve noticed many of our classmates don’t seem to take OCD itself very seriously, but, it’s alright. They have never caused me any major issues.”
“I think you should tell them, though,” he says. Of course, he doesn’t know all the nuances of OCD. Admittedly, he’s probably used it as an adjective before, but he thinks that’s an important thing for their classmates to all know. “It shouldn’t be a problem to anyone, Yaomomo.”
She just smiles at him, and it’s a little wobbly, like she’s trying to hold it back a bit, but she continues her miniature speech from before. "I say the same for you. We're all here to help you, Kaminari. But we're unable to do that when you won't tell us what you're struggling with. You’re right, I should tell our classmates about what I deal with, but I wish for you to do the same."
He lowers his head a bit, but he nods.
As gently as possible, she puts a hand under his chin to lift it the tiniest bit, so that they’re making eye contact again. She’s very motherly. "You are not an inconvenience to any of us. You’re never a problem.”
He‘s trying really, really hard not to cry right now.
He’s not really sure how he managed to get into this mindset. Of course Jiro’s not an inconvenience. Yaoyorozu never was either, even though he didn’t know her methods of doing things were really tied to something deeper. Why did he convince himself he’s a problem? His classmates have never made him feel that way, but here he is, needing the encouragement otherwise.
His first instinct is to go hide in a bathroom somewhere, but that would be completely backward from the advice Yaoyorozu’s giving him. She’s right. He’s gonna make an effort to tell people about his feelings, because bottling all of this up fucking sucks. And he’s not a problem.
“Thanks, Yaomomo,” he mumbles quietly, and she just smiles back at him. She’s seriously too good.
They move back onto the math after Yaoyorozu asks if he’s okay to continue. He feels a little better. He feels like there’s a weight off of his chest, even though he didn’t really talk too much about what he’s feeling - but now that he’s dwelling on that, the feeling comes back.
He just wants to finish this stupid math homework.
He sees Yaoyorozu wave to someone out of the corner of his eye, and when he looks up, he’s certainly not expecting to see Jiro.
She looks better. Of course, Denki didn’t really see her when she was feeling especially bad, but she doesn’t look as sick anymore. Definitely tired, but also definitely up for taking jabs at him. Which is good.
She’s wearing her pajamas and her noise-canceling headphones, but she’s brought her school bag with her, and she sets it down on the table to sit across from the two of them. She starts to take out her things, and Denki looks over at Yaoyorozu.
"Should she be here if she couldn't come to class?" he whispers to her. He’s just a little concerned for her.
"I can still hear you," Jiro says. Denki didn't realize he was staring at her headphones. He forgot that she still can actually hear out of those, of course, nothing can silence her hearing completely. He thinks it’s just that she can’t hear anything further than where they’re sitting. "The library's quiet, so I'll be fine. As long as you don't start screaming."
"I don't know if I can make that promise. Have you seen me try to do math?" he jokes, and he's relieved to see her smile.
He hopes she still doesn't know about what happened to him yesterday.
Yaoyorozu briefly apologizes to Denki, explaining she wasn’t sure if Jiro was going to make it to study because of her condition, but that was why she planned on going to the library in the first place. Apparently, they do this every Friday evening, because that’s the time when no one else is there. Denki feels a little guilty about intruding, but he keeps that to himself. They don’t really seem to mind.
Jiro has all of her things out and she sits down, peering over at Denki’s sheet to see what problem they’re on. When she takes hers out, he sees she hasn’t made any progress, either.
"How are you feeling? You look much better," Yaoyorozu says with a tiny smile.
“That medicine’s killing me. I’ve been sick like, all day,” she grumbles. "I think I'm good enough to go back to class tomorrow, though.”
Denki grins. “You go to class on the weekends? Wild.”
“Oh, shit, it’s Friday?” she asks, looking relieved. “Okay. Sweet. ‘Cause I am definitely not up for hero training yet.”
“You’ll have the weekend to recover a bit,” Yaoyorozu says, and Jiro nods. “The doctor said it was an ear infection, yes?”
"She said it was a lot worse than normal because of how I've improved my quirk recently. Which…sucks, but, makes sense I guess,” she mumbles, twirling a pencil in her left earphone jack. Denki’s kind of jealous, that looks fun.
He pauses for a second, after really taking in what Jiro just said.
Maybe that's got something to do with it? He’s improved his quirk a lot recently too, they all have. He can handle way larger amounts of electricity than he was able to before, almost without any adverse effects. Or so he thought, anyway.
He's more anxious than usual, apparently. He’s not sure why now, exactly, but maybe it’s because there’s been a lot going on. They’re not bad things, not necessarily. Things have actually been a lot quieter recently than what’s normal for their class - no villain attacks, no kidnappings. It’s just school stuff. He’s overwhelmed. It’s okay to be overwhelmed, right?
"Can I tell you guys something?" he blurts out nervously, waiting until Jiro finished asking Yaoyorozu something math related. They’re both staring at him, and for a second he wants to take it back, but it’s too late.
"Is it about your anxiety?" Jiro asks.
Denki’s shoulders sink. He blinks, a little caught off guard. “My…anxiety?”
“Yeah. You’ve been struggling, haven’t you?” she asks.
Was it that obvious? He feels like crying again. Of course it’s obvious. He’s horrible at pretending he’s fine, and Jiro knows him well enough to know when he’s not acting right. Even Yaoyorozu. Just because they’re not super close doesn’t mean she can’t tell. Yaoyorozu does look a little surprised that Jiro brought it up so quickly.
“I didn’t think I had anxiety,” he murmurs, lowering his gaze down to his homework. The way Jiro words that makes him feel like it’s okay to tell them about what’s going on. He is struggling. He catches his leg bouncing again and makes it stop. “I dunno. I’m not, like…scared of people, or…”
“There’s different kinds. It’s not the same for everyone,” Jiro tells him. She says it so casually. Denki’s never talked about any kind of mental health thing with anyone before, because even before he started to realize what was really going on, he’s always had the feeling this is something people keep to themselves, but Jiro doesn’t seem to view it that way at all. It makes Denki feel like afraid of it. “Mine’s probably closer to what you said, but…you’re way more extroverted than me, so it makes sense that you’d be anxious about different things.”
So Jiro has anxiety, huh? That makes perfect sense. He doesn’t think that hers is exactly what he was thinking of, but she gets really nervous in crowds and with speaking up. She gets overwhelmed easily too, but Denki always assumed that was just because of her quirk.
"I think…it's kinda like what you said, Jiro. With your quirk improving? I guess that maybe I've always had it but it's just…worse recently."
"That makes sense. You're handling more electricity than you could before and your body doesn't really know what to do with it. Or, that’s my guess, anyway,” she answers. “That’d explain the nosebleeds, I think. Cause that usually happens when you overuse your quirk, right?”
Denki’s never resonated with an explanation so much in his life. That makes perfect sense. He’s almost willing to drop the conversation there and run with this, because his head feels a little clearer with that in mind.
Yaoyorozu, however, doesn’t seem content with that explanation. “I’m not sure that would explain what happened to you yesterday, Kaminari…”
Denki sinks back a tiny bit, because the look of confusion on Jiro’s face tells him exactly that she’s probably the only one in their band group that didn’t hear about it. All she knows is what Denki texted her. They used the wrong smoke during training. Yaoyorozu seems to realize that Jiro doesn’t have the full picture because she puts a hand over her mouth, almost like she regrets saying that.
Jiro is staring him down for an explanation. “So not just the smoke, then, huh?” she asks, sounding a lot more concerned than he expected her to.
“I think the scenario freaked me out,” Denki mumbles. He can’t keep eye contact with her, even though he doesn’t want to disrespect either of them by staring at the table - the imagery is starting to pour back into his brain. “It was, um…Bakugo and I had to get three dummies out of a burning building. I think the smoke did have something to do with it, but…I like…coughed up blood and passed out, basically?”
He’s kind of hoping Jiro will find it funny somehow, but she doesn’t even look loike she’s going to make a joke out of it. She looks really sad, actually. “What about the scenario freaked you out?” she asks. “Something from the training camp. Yeah? With the fire?”
The way she says it makes Denki realize she struggles with the exact same thing. They’ve never talked about this with each other, none of them have. It’s been an understood thing that they’ve all been affected by it in some capacity, but until now, it seems like everyone has moved on. Denki’s thought that there’s something wrong with him for still being afraid, but, he’s not alone after all.
Yaoyorozu’s face tells him the same thing.
“It was, um…actually…” he starts, not even thinking of how he’s going to word this. How is he supposed to tell Jiro that he thought he saw her corpse in there? She was just unconscious at the training camp, but he didn’t know that for a solid minute, at least. He thought she was dead until Awase from class Bassured him otherwise. How is he supposed to tell her he wakes up in the middle of the night with nightmares from that minute, thinking she’s dead?
His eyes burn with tears, and he lowers his head to cover his face. Not because he can’t get the words out, but because he’s really just that overwhelmed by everything. He doesn’t want to tell her. He doesn’t want to think about this, but he doesn’t know how to tell them that.
Jiro gets up from her side of the table, Denki can only tell because he’s heard the chair move, and before he can really process that, he feels her arms wrap around him in a hug.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me,” she says quietly. “I’m sorry.”
She’s really, really not the type to do stuff like this for no reason, and it only makes Denki cry harder.
He shifts so that he’s hugging her back. It’s probably not going to last very long, but honestly after the week he’s had, Denki will absolutely take all the hugs he can get.
When Jiro stands up again, she moves her chair to be at the end of the table, so that he’s adjacent to Denki instead of across from him. A tissue box gets nudged into his field of vision by Yaoyorozu, who kindly offers it to him. He doesn’t remember that being there before, but sometimes he forgets Yaoyorozu can make whatever she wants with her quirk. Denki gladly takes two or three to blow his nose and wipe at his eyes.
“I know we have a guidance counselor at school, but, if you go to him he can refer you to a therapist. Cause - PTSD isn’t something he usually handles,” Jiro says gently. “Yaoyorozu and I both see one.”
Denki sniffles, turning to Yaoyorozu for a second, who gives him a little smile and a nod. The PTSD thing is something he definitely wouldn’t question. Knowing now that both of his friends here struggle with it, he wouldn’t be surprised if his entire class dealt with it in some capacity, after everything they’ve been through so far. They definitely have the right idea seeing a therapist.
Maybe that’s something he’ll look into.
“I still think that anxiety is something different, though. That it’s part of your quirk,” Jiro reiterates.
Denki nods, he definitely agrees. “I guess I just…need to figure out how to deal with it. I feel like I’m falling behind at school and…I don’t really know how to stop.”
"Perhaps we can go talk to Mr. Aizawa about getting some accommodations for you," Yaoyorozu suggests, gently clasping her hands together. "And I could certainly make copies of my notes for you if that would help you keep up with the material in class.”
"You'd do that?" Denki asks with another sniffle.
Yaoyorozu nods. "Of course, it's not any trouble."
“Can I join in on this too? Your notes are literally a godsend,” Jiro half-jokes.
Yaoyorozu giggles. “They really aren’t all that special, but I’m flattered. I can certainly make copies for the both of you.”
Jiro goes on to assure Yaoyorozu that her notes are better than most official study guides she’s looked into, and Denki agrees with several back-to-back nods. He just listens for a minute as Jiro continues to praise Yaoyorozu, despite the latter getting a tiny bit flustered. He’s glad that he didn’t ruin the mood with his crying earlier, but now that he’s thinking about how glad he is to have friends like this, he almost wants to tear up again.
"Thanks guys," he mumbles as their conversation dies down, "seriously."
"No problem, dude. Wish you'd said something sooner," Jiro says with a sideways smile, "but I guess you didn't really know what to think of it either."
"Yeah," he sighs.
"Secret meeting, I see."
The deep voice that Denki hears from somewhere in front of their table is one that he certainly did not expect to hear, but before he can start coming up with a crazy scenario for who or what it might be, Tokoyami appears from the shadows.
Denki doesn't have any idea how long he's been lingering. Jiro looks surprised to see him too - she’s had her headphones on this whole time, and probably didn’t hear him coming at all, since her hearing isn’t as sharp with those.
“Hello, Tokoyami! I have the book right here for you,” Yaoyorozu says, obviously being the only one who was expecting him. She stands up to dig through her backpack as Denki and Jiro blink their wide-eyed stares away.
“You really need to start telling us when you’re inviting people,” Denki sighs, and Jiro nods.
“My apologies! He has been wanting to borrow a book of mine,” Yaoyorozu when she locates the book to hand to their friend. “Here it is, I’m so sorry for making you wait! The ending was truly intriguing, I ended up reading it again…”
Tokoyami gently takes the book. “I’ll certainly do this as well if you recommend it.”
“I can’t believe people read for fun,” Jiro whispers, and Denki gives her a look to communicate the word right?!
“I overheard some of your conversation. If you’re wanting to talk to Mr. Aizawa, you should do that soon. He doesn’t stay as long on Fridays as he does the rest of the week,” Tokoyami tells them, and Denki realizes he must have overheard a good bit if he caught on to that. He smiles at him a little awkwardly.
“Oh, yes, you’re right. Perhaps we can go talk to Mr. Aizawa and then come back?” Yaoyorozu suggests.
“I can watch your things. Maybe I’ll get started on this book…” Tokoyami says, his beak practically already pressed into the first page.
"Oh, uh…maybe on Monday, instead? I don’t wanna, like…bother him if he’s, uh…" Denki stammers a little nervously as Jiro stands up too, and he realizes too slowly that they’ve already made up his mind for him.
"C'mon, let's go now. You're gonna psych yourself out if you wait,” Jiro tells him, taking his hand and pulling him out of the chair as he whines. “Besides, we have a test on Monday. If you get accommodations now, you’ll have them for that.”
The test on Monday is absolutely news to him, but maybe they’ll deal with that when they get back to the library because they’re already taking him away from the table.
“Kaminari,” Tokoyami says before they leave.
Denki turns around to see his bird friend sitting at the empty chair at their table already, and he gives him an approving nod before he turns his attention back to his book. Still, Denki doesn’t have any idea how much he overheard, but he’s almost forgotten that Tokoyami was the first person to know about his situation.
Denki wishes he had been more honest with Tokoyami in the beginning, but it seems he’s just glad to know he’s not keeping this all to himself anymore.
“If you ever need to talk about something, your classmates are always willing to listen.”
Denki smiles to himself, even though Tokoyami isn’t looking anymore. He’s so cool. He was right all along.
Denki whines until Jiro flicks him in the forehead with one of her earphone jacks.
Jiro definitely looks unsteady as they make their way over to the teacher’s offices, and Denki makes it a point to take her arm, because he’s a little worried she’s about to fall over. "You okay?" he asks, maybe too soon before realizing maybe this was a little out of line.
"I'm cool, just dizzy from everything," she mumbles, not looking especially thrilled that he's so close to her, but Denki has to at least make sure she doesn't fall over before she breaks off from him. Her cheeks are suddenly kind of red, Denki doesn’t think he noticed that earlier. Hopefully she doesn’t have a fever or something. Yaoyorozu doesn’t pick up on it, she’s focused on their mission.
“Sorry I didn’t notice you were that sick, Jiro,” Denki sighs. He does feel guilty about that. He was so wrapped up in his own head with what he had going on that he didn’t see soon enough that something wasn’t right with his friend.
“Are you kidding me, Charge? Pretty sure you had way more than enough going on,” she chides, giving him a light jab with her elbow. “ I’m sorry I didn’t try to talk to you about what you had going on sooner.”
Denki’s shoulders sink. He doesn’t want her to feel guilty about that, he doesn’t want anyone to have to feel like they have to pull any sort of information out of him at all, and she did try. Denki’s the one who refused to elaborate on anything until now, because he thought he had it all figured out on his own. “No way. That was on me. I need to…I need to communicate with you guys better.”
He’s trying to mirror what Yaoyorozu said earlier, and he realizes then that she’s totally listening in on the conversation, because as they turn a corner, she briefly turns around to flash that warm smile of hers at him.
They see another unexpected person on their way to the teacher’s offices, walking away from the room where Aizawa usually is - Bakugo. Yaoyorozu kindly waves at him, but he’s glaring right at Denki. “Bout’ fuckin’ time,” he grumbles to himself before he walks off, hands stuffed in his pockets, like he never saw any of them to begin with.
“Isn’t he as cheery as always,” Jiro puffs, clearly confused by the comment, but Denki knows exactly what he meant.
“He is very unpredictable,” Yaoyorozu muses, not exactly mirroring Jiro’s statement, but something about the way she says that makes him think she understood what he meant, too. She really wonders what her conversation with Tokoyami went like, and how Bakugo played into it all. But he supposes he doesn’t need to know everything.
His conversation with Aizawa goes really, really well.
The girls have to practically push him into the teachers longue for him to get the courage to even do it, but as soon as he’s there, he’s fine. Aizawa sits him down and asks him to explain his situation the best he can - Present Mic and Midnight are there too, but he’s somehow comforted more by more people being there. He goes over the conversation he had with Jiro and Yaoyorozu the best be can - they’re both standing outside the room, but he doesn’t doubt Jiro can still hear him.
Aizawa gives him all kinds of options - he says that sharing notes with Yaoyorozu is a great idea, and he would definitely recommend studying regularly with his classmates, but he offers him extra times on tests and quizzes before or after school, too. He suggests taking tests in a place less distracting than the classroom, too.
Denki doesn’t mention the PTSD thing to him, but he has a feeling that he knows about that already. Denki at least wants to resolve his school anxiety for now. He’ll work on the rest at his own pace.
“We can start with that, and go from there. If it helps and you think it’s helpful enough, great, but if not, let me know and we’ll rearrange it.” Aizawa says. Denki’s glad he seems so committed to helping him. He never had this experience with a teacher before, but he supposes he’s never needed help to this extent, either. “Let’s do it this way. Come in an hour hearly for Monday’s test. I can give you the times during class. After school, if you need that time too, you can let me know what you think needs to change so that you can get this done and stay caught up efficiently.”
Everyone’s on his side here.
He thanks his teacher probably a billion times before Aizawa reminds him he needs a weekend too, and that he can go back to his friends.
It’s all figured out, for now. Denki tells them about his conversation with Aizawa. They finish studying, Denki realizes he just thought Monday’s test was on a different day, and they all head back to the dorms before the sun goes down, at least. He hasn’t been able to breathe this freely in way too long.
"You up for practicing tomorrow?" Denki asks Jiro. as they approach their dorm building. They’ve set Saturdays as their regular practice days, with spots during the week if they have time.
Jiro shrugs. "I think I'll be okay. Are you? "
"Think so,” Denki says with a little nod.
"Okay. But you'll tell us if you're not?"
Denki nods. He knows at least this time, they all know what’s going on, and he doesn’t have to worry about hiding.
"Promise, then," she teases with a pinky finger out.
Denki hooks his own around hers. "I promise!"
Sure, he doesn't have any idea if any of this will work, or how long he has to go to figure himself out, but man, he's really lucky to have friends like this.