Some days Izuku wondered whether falling in love would be the death of him.
The idea of even being in love was something he hardly ever fathomed as a child, isolated and unpopular as he was. Nobody was interested in associating with a quirkless loser like him, even as a friend, let alone a crush. He hardly even interacted with girls; they tended not to acknowledge him and he was far too shy to try to change that. His childhood had left him with zero experience when it came to romance, and for a long time, he was fine with that.
But now he cursed his social ineptitude and fortunes with all his might for leaving him wholly unprepared for the lovely, horrifying world of dating.
Trying to navigate the rules of romance with no real experience to draw from was making him trip up far too often — figuratively and literally. Trying to put out flirtatious banter and displays of affection simultaneously drove him into nervous madness and made him feel like he was going to combust. That was all besides his difficulty trying to manage his appearance with a vigour that was alien to him before he started his romantic escapade. He wanted to look and be as good as possible for her; she deserved that, and more.
But despite fears that his heart might leap out of his chest any day now, the joy they shared made all the hardship more than worth it.
Izuku was endlessly thankful that Uraraka was far more courageous than himself, in many ways. After over a year of longing glances, quiet smiles, unwitting flirting during sparring sessions, and overcoming life-or-death situations (which there were far too many of), she had finally worked up the nerves to ask him out. That was something he would probably have never been able to work up the gumption to do. After the shock wore off and he regained his thinking capacities, he blurted out a "yes" and he was almost blinded by how brightly she beamed at him.
The next few weeks were a mixture of explosive nerves and blissful oblivion.
With how strong the foundation of their friendship was, they flowed together so seamlessly that most of the dates proved fairly straightforward. Spending time with Uraraka was already so natural that most of their dates were very easy going. Just spending time with one another, laughing and enjoying each other's company made the ordeal worthwhile.
But many of the technicalities of dating proved to be a source of constant consternation for him. Working through the awkwardness and the nerves of a first love was driving him to ruin. He needed information but he hardly had any good sources. The internet was polluted with contradicting information on dating that did not seem very effective (he had tried a couple of cheesy romantic lines from the web, causing Uraraka to laugh in his face while telling him to 'be himself'). Beyond that, he was hesitant to try to ask anyone for advice on this, especially since the pair were trying to keep their new relationship under wrap, lest they face an onslaught of relentless teasing or worse.
Although given the number of knowing glances they had received over the past few weeks from their classmates, he wondered how effective that strategy really was.
As a result, Deku relied on improvisation to navigate the uneasy waters of love, causing him to capsize on more than one occasion. For her part, Uraraka was not exactly sure of herself either and seemed to be winging it as much as he was.
But as they always could, they worked through it together and found a way to persevere, whether with a laugh or a helping hand. And the rewards of the effort — the contact, the intimacy, those kisses — made his blissful heart somersault in a way he had become addicted to. Life was good, despite the misgivings that his heart's regular pounding might not be good for his long-term health.
Thus, he found himself sweating like a hog as he tried to get ready for his next date with Uraraka. The still budding relationship and his desire to constantly impress had made him far more anxious than he usually was. He had developed a habit of rigorous cleanliness, fretting about what shirt to wear and trying to comb his hair to make it slightly less weird-looking (to little avail).
Deku starred in a full-length mirror in his room (a recent addition after he and Uraraka started getting serious) after settling on a fancy green collared shirt and his nicest pair of jeans. The freckled boy peering back at him looked terribly plain. Were it not for his quirk, he would never stand out, but at an outward glance, you could hardly tell he even had one. The only parts of him that really stood out were the harsh scars that crawled around his right hand and up his arm; a mark from his extensive quirk usage.
He had taken to wearing sleeves these days to avoid any awkward stares.
Nodding to his own image, he stepped out of his room and trudged out to the dorm common area, ready to face the day with his...girlfriend (his own thinking still stumbled at the word). His heart was already kicking up a notch as his upcoming date with Uraraka approached closer with every footstep.
"Ooh, what you dressed up for Midoriya?" Kaminari asked from the couch as Izuku made his way through the commons towards the exit. Mercifully, Kaminari was the only other one there, with most students outside enjoying the spring sunshine.
"Uhh...just heading out, nothing special," he lied through his teeth as he tried not to make direct eye contact. "See you around!" he blurted with a burst of speed towards the door.
"Alright, have fun!" Kaminari called back. Izuku breathed a sigh of relief as he closed the door. "Ladykiller."
Izuku felt a shock down his spine at Kaminari's parting line. He slammed the door the rest of the way closed with more force than needed, groaning at the tease. Countless strategies they had tried — avoiding each other in class, exiting the building for dates at different times and repeated denial — seemed to have had little effect on sidetracking his classmates from their relationship. He supposed he might as well give up trying to keep things under ropes at this rate.
The bustle of the city outside Yuei gave him a merciful reprieve from thinking about his relationship's publicity as he walked briskly towards his meeting place with his...girlfriend. As he got closer to the pre-selected cafe of the week, he found his mood lifting ever higher. The nerves still bubbled beneath the service, but going on a date with Uraraka always brought with it an excited energy.
"Deku!" Uraraka shone brighter than the sun as she waved at him from the cafe, beaming, her exuberance infectious but also making his knees a little weak. She was too cute, dressed up in a casual black skirt and grey t-shirt with her hair done up at the back, an almost pointedly dark-green vest draped over her shoulders.
She practically collided into him, relishing in a quick, forceful embrace. She had made glomping him a habit of greeting, a gesture he had come to appreciate.
"Hey Urara-" Izuku paused mid-sentence as Uraraka disentangled herself from him before she shot him a dirty look that stayed his tongue.
"O-ochako." She had insisted he start using her given name when they were alone together, another change he was struggling to adjust to. But the smile on her face as the name rolled off his lips was more than worth the hiccups.
"That's more like it," she said, quietly grabbing his hand. The skin contact and the soft sensation of her fingertips sent a few goosebumps crawling up his arm, but he managed to squeeze back gently. "Make it out okay?"
"Mostly…" Deku scratched the back of his head and sighed as he recalled his exit. "Kaminari knows about us, I think."
"Mina bumped into me before I got here...she would not stop wiggling her eyebrows," Uraraka shook her head while gently guiding the pair of them towards the cafe entrance. They managed to find a seat deep inside the bustling establishment, hoping to keep hidden from any prying eyes.
"Maybe we should give up trying to hide it," Deku suggested. Even though he could never imagine flaunting their romance, the whispered teases were getting grating. Knowing their classmates, there would probably be an explosion if they came out in the open (figuratively and literally), but it would die down after a while and they might be able to exist in peace.
"Yeah...maybe…" Uraraka bit her lip slightly, frowning. The forlorn expression, which she had once made a point of hiding from him, was something he hated seeing on her. "I'm just not sure yet. I don't...I don't know if I'm ready to go through all that, with everything else going on."
"Hey, it's alright," Deku relented quickly, reaching out across the table and gently taking her hand as guilt stained her face. She looked up at him through her eyelashes, lips tilting upward in a small, involuntary smile. "We don't have to rush into telling people if you're not comfortable. Either way is alright with me."
"Thanks, Deku," she replied, the smile growing a little wider. She looked down at their hands and gently curled her fingers in his. He gladly obliged the sweet gesture, his scarred hand sliding through hers with the lightness of a feather.
Uraraka's eyes wandered towards their clasped hands. Her face slowly fell and her hand flexed slightly.
She bit her lip and winced.
"Is...is something wrong?" His mind slowly accelerated as he analyzed her face and tried to figure out how he could lift her spirits again. He gently retrieved his hand from her clenched grasp, immediately missing the sweet contact but fearful it was somehow making her uncomfortable.
"Huh? Oh, no, it's fine, Deku," Uraraka sputtered, cheeks flushing as she lifted her eyes back to him. "Sorry, zoned out for a moment. I just got a lot on my mind lately, you know?"
"Yeah, I know what that's like," Deku said, nodding in understanding. But he kept his eyes affixed and steady on her. He had known her for long enough now to tell when she was hiding something.
Uraraka did not let on what the wince was about through the rest of their date. She fell easily back into their laid-back camaraderie. Quiet laughter flowed plentifully from their table as they discussed the latest happenings of their dorm life (such as how Kaminari learned never to disturb Bakugo while he was brushing his teeth). They also exchanged gripes about school, internship duties and upcoming tests. They were both comfortable in laying bare their anxieties as they moved toward their futures, lifting each other up as needed.
But her wince nagged at him throughout their conversation, a wiggling little worm at the back of his mind. Why did she look so uneasy when he took her hand? The uncertainty ate at him, but he tried to ignore it as best as he could, with little success.
Far too soon, the two finished their lunch and prepared to part ways outside the cafe. Uraraka had to get ready for a late shift with Ryukyu's office. Even as only regular interns, their time together was so fleeting. Deku tried to treasure every moment they had.
"I had a really good time, Deku," Uraraka said wistfully. She stared up at him shyly, bringing herself right up against him. His heart leapt hard against his chest and he swallowed down his nerves.
"Me too...Ochako…" he replied softly. Her arms extended around his neck, locking him in place. She was so close. He went still as a statue but managed to extend a shaking hand to rest on her hip. A small improvement from his usual motionlessness.
She brought up her lips to meet his, gentle but firm. It was so hard for him to think, let alone move or initiate in these situations. He pressed back slightly, his mind swimming with the sensation of her soft mouth.
"You're getting a little better," Uraraka teased as she broke away, grinning up at him. "Next time, you're going to be the one kissing me, alright?"
"Yeah...sure…" he nodded in a slight daze. He shook his head and tried to reclaim his wits. He tended to go a little stupid when she did this, his mind becoming lost in the disbelief of Ochako Uraraka kissing him. "I'll give it my best shot."
"That's all I'm asking," she responded, before digging her fingers in lightly as she slid her arms down his neck, causing him to shiver. "See you at the dorm later?"
"Definitely…" he squeaked, causing her belling laughter to ring. It was music to his ears, despite his embarrassment.
Izuku watched wistfully as she walked away, wondering what he could have possibly ever done to deserve his good fortune.
However, despite all the mushy afterglow of a date with Uraraka, the question of her wince remained a spectre that sunk its claws deeper into his mind.
He walked slowly back to Yuei, intending to spend the rest of the day in a workout regimen, but remained lost in thought. He pulled at his lip and considered what exactly had brought that sudden unhappiness onto Uraraka's face. Did she not want to hold hands as much? Was it the lingering fear that they would get spotted in their casual intimacy by someone they knew?
He stared down at his scarred right hand, the gate to his rather disfigured arm. The faded wounds were ugly marks on his skin and a constant reminder of what would happen if he pushed himself beyond his limits. A constant reminder of the price of being unable to control One for All. He would never take back his actions that got him the markings, but he regretted not finding a way to better control the power sooner.
But as he kept his analytical stare down on his skin, he started to wonder. Was it...grotesque?
Izuku had never been one to mind his own appearance too much. He had been described as "plain-looking" by many classmates growing up and he was more than happy to try to use that image to fade into the background of middle school, in the vain hopes of avoiding the bullying of his classmates. His mind was far too occupied with other matters — like gathering information on heroes — to care much about trying to stand out as a quirkless boy in middle school.
But now he did have a reason to try to impress with his looks, which he didn't have much to naturally work with. He wanted to look good for Uraraka. And his scars...just didn't. They stood out, making his hand look broken — which they were, in a way. They weren't really the cool-looking marks of battle like some heroes had, showing their triumph over villainy. They were an etching of weakness and fragility. A reminder of how far he had left to go.
Izuku clenched his right hand into a fragile fist, the appendage looking far older than it should. He trembled a bit as he thought about how off-put Uraraka might have been seeing this mangled thing between them. He pondered if girls cared at all for scars these days. He wondered if these markings hurt what little looks he might have.
He committed then to trying to correct the failing of his hand in what ways he could. Whatever the reason, his hand may have made Uraraka uncomfortable, and that revolted him. He would have to calculate a way to adjust.
Nervous energy kept Deku pacing as he waited for the apple of his eye to meet him once again. He was particularly excited for today's excursion; a surprise picnic in a secluded spot of a park, underneath a shady tree. It might be on the cliche side, but he figured Uraraka would appreciate it nonetheless, and he had a lot of fun preparing the meal with his mother.
He had dressed in a sharp, red checkered shirt and slacks. Accentuating the outfit — hopefully — were a new pair of red gloves that he had bought just for the occasion. If all went according to plan, it would prevent some of the awkwardness present at their last date.
Uraraka appeared over the horizon, outfitted in a casual red tank top and shorts. His throat went a little dry at the loose wear, although it had a tendency to do that whenever they were alone together these days.
"Hey Deku!" she became as she skipped over to him, eagerly wrapping her arms around him in a vice-like hug. Her eyes idly rolled over to the basket at his feet and she let out a light gasp. "Oh wow, you brought a picnic?"
"Yeah, I thought we could just relax here for the afternoon. If that's alright with you, anyway." Deku idly crossed his fingers at his side.
"Of course!" she exclaimed with a grin, clapping her hands lightly together "I'd love to! I haven't had a picnic since I was a little girl."
"Me too," Deku replied before his cheeks flushed as he realized how that might sound. "I mean since I was a little boy!"
Uraraka giggled, before gently taking his hand and pulling him down to take a seat on the grass. Her eyes widened a bit and her eyebrow quirked up as she was met not with the familiar soft flesh, but instead hard leather.
"So...what's with the gloves?" she asked, idly pulling at his hand to examine the material.
"Oh, uh, well it's...I thought it worked well with the outfit, you know?" Deku stammered while scratching his cheek and nervously retracting his hand from Uraraka's probing fingers. "I wear gloves with my suit and I kind of liked the style. And this way, people won't notice...uh…you know."
"Notice what?" she eyed him skeptically, affixing him with a piercing stare. Deku gulped.
"...The scars. I just wouldn't want anyone to be...disturbed by them or anything, just in case."
Uraraka's mouth fell open a bit as the statement momentarily stunned her. Deku couldn't meet her eyes as he saw how taken aback she was by his words. He was hoping she might not notice or comment on the outfit change and started to sweat as he realized he might have misread things.
"It's not big deal really-"
"Deku, what would ever give you that idea?" she interrupted him with the slow question, a rocky tone to her voice that left little room for argument.
"I...uh…" he gulped again as she stared up at him with fire in her eyes. It was usually the sort of thing she reserved for sparring sessions and it left him on edge. "I...the other day I saw you wince a bit when you looked at my hand. I just thought that...maybe…"
"Oh no, I...I'm sorry!" Uraraka's anger melted in in an instant as she realized she was the inadvertent catalyst to the choice. "Izuku, I...just…" she shoved her face in her hands and groaned, before letting them slide down her cheeks. "I didn't…" she sighed out, inhaling a deep breath as she tried to gain some composure. "Can you...give me a bit of time to explain?"
"Take all you need," Deku replied quietly, scooching over to lean against the tree hanging over them. Uraraka moved over to sit next to him, an awkward silence filling the space between the couple. After weeks of the nervous, but blissful exuberance between them, he hated this feeling of suspense.
"Could I hold your hand?" Uraraka asked politely, a question that had not needed verbalization between them since their first date. Deku nodded towards her as he extended his right hand out, which she eagerly grabbed, pulling the glove off of it and revealing the scarred flesh beneath.
"I am really sorry about that Deku. I…it's…" she took another deep breath as she traced random patterns into his skin, tickling it slightly and sending a few goose bumps dotting up his arm. "I didn't think my reaction was noticeable or anything, I guess. It was kind of involuntary. But I could have been more open with you."
Deu stayed silent as her fingertips traced the lines of his hands, listening intently as the skin tingled.
"I see these sometimes and...I guess they do unsettle me. Remembering how you got them, that look in your eyes as you blazed forward without caring about what you're doing to yourself," she shook her head as she squeezed his hand. "It hurt a lot back then, worrying about how my friend was beating himself up all the time. And I was just standing there watching or...even helping you do it."
"Ochako…" Deku whispered as her face grew more and more downcast. He instinctively reached his other hand out to try to comfort her but stopped himself as she went on.
"But the...the strange thing is…" she squeezed his hand tightly, clenching with the hidden strength that make Deku grit his teeth a bit. "In those moments, even though it hurt seeing you like that, there was a part of me that...that admired you more than anything else."
Deku was not sure how to process everything she was telling him. He felt frozen by the sudden outpouring of feeling from her and he wasn't sure if he should be happy or offended or something else entirely. Evidently, she was having a hard time processing this all as well.
"When you get that look in your eyes…" Uraraka suddenly looked up, meeting his gaze directly. "That drive in them, showing the world that you'll be a hero no matter what. It...it makes me want to be a better hero. It's what I love most about you."
His heart thumped hard at the "L-word," not something they had casually thrown around in the fledgeling days of their romantic relationship. But Uraraka didn't seem to realize what she had let out as she charged through her confession.
"I remember a lot of the dark things that happened to us when I see these scars," she continued, turning her gaze back down to the hand she still held tightly. "And it can be upsetting. But I also remember that we pulled through it," she weaved her fingers through his, gentler now. "Well, you did. I was more of a bystander. But that still makes me feel happy to know."
He gave him a soft smile, but it didn't quite meet her eyes. He didn't like that.
"The ends you went to save people...would they see it as a mistake?" Uraraka probed as she thumbed over the scars again. Deku blinked at the question that turned the cogs in his brain, mind flashing to the faces of Todoroki and Kouda.
"It doesn't matter what I remember when I see them or that I have mixed feelings when I do. These hands are part of who you are, Deku. You may think they mark your mistakes, but I see them as a reminder of the people you save and the incredible things you can do." She leaned a little closer as her face shone vibrantly up at him. "And I don't think you should be ashamed of them. Especially not because I'm being silly."
Unbidden wetness teared at the edges of Izuku's eyes and his lip quivered as a torrent of tears sprang forth.
"T-thanks…" he murmured with a shaky breath, his beating heart seizing his vocal chords. "Thanks, Uraraka."
"Aww…" Uraraka cooed as she wrapped her arms comfortingly around him, putting her head on his shoulder. "I'm happy if it helped, Deku."
"It really did…" he murmured into her hair as he wound his arms tightly around her. "You know you...you always make me feel better."
"Right back at 'ya," she replied as he gently disentangled himself for her to hold her at arm's length. He took his time looking at her through his bleary eyes; her rosy cheeks, her warm brown eyes, the smile that never failed to ignite his own. She was wondrous. She seemed a bit taken aback by the unrelenting stare and her cheeks reddened a bit further.
"You...you mean so much to me and I just…" he gulped. This was tough, but he desperately wanted to try to return the kind words. To address her doubts, too. "What you think does matter to me, a lot, Uraraka. Don't ever doubt that. And when I...do the things that...that get me these…" He pointedly eyed his right hand. "You're always one of the people I think about."
"...Really?" she whispered, eyes sparkling with a light that made his heart clench.
"Real...really. You inspire me so much and I just...what you do for me, I'm just so thankful," Izuku stammered, squeezing her hand and wishing he could be more eloquent in moments like this. "And you shouldn't put yourself down because you're...you're so amazing and I just want you to know that and I'm sorry if this is awkward I'm not used to this kind of-"
Her lips cut off his rant in the sweetest way possible, pressing against his with a passion that threatened to burn him alive. It was so much fiercer than the chaste kisses they had usually gone through and he found it hard to press back or breathe or think. He was so caught off guard that he toppled over and she fell on top of him, never relinquishing her seal upon his mouth.
The fog in his brain lingered after she finally came up for air and stared down at him with a cautious smile, nose lightly bumping up against his, her eyes filling his own vision.
"Too much?" she asked at his slack face.
"N-no…" he managed to blurt out with all his strength and she laughed at him.
"Sorry, I just...really wanted to try that," she explained, lifting herself off of him while blushing. "It...it's a little much but I think I like it." She lent out an arm to help him sit back up which he gladly accepted, unabashedly placing his uncovered right hand in hers.
"I won't stop you…" he murmured and Uraraka chuckled a bit again.
"Thanks, Deku," she said earnestly, grinning up at him. "I'm glad we could talk this way."
"Me too," he nodded as he idly stroked the inside of her palm with his thumb. His own scarred hand felt so much lighter, somehow, as if she had used her quirk on it.
"But there's just one thing…" she spoke with mischief in her voice, rolling her eyes and confusing him with the sudden tonal shift.
"It's Ochako," she stated simply, giving him a faux punch to the arm with her free hand. Despite her mild indignation, her cheeky grin showed she was still in good humour.
But Izuku still gasped, looking away and smacking his forehead as he realized he had slipped.
"Oh shoot, sorry about that," he replied as he bowed his head in apology. Uraraka laughed and waved a hand in reassurance.
"Don't worry about it. It's like you to get a little formal when you're talking about something serious," she spoke with an easy going understanding. Izuku quietly counted his blessings once again.
He felt a sudden, strong urge of affection for the young woman who had captured his heart. It boggled his mind that despite how awkward and unsure of himself in romance as he was, she always found a way to make it easier on him. He could endlessly thank and praise her, but he wanted to show her what it is she meant to him.
Izuku grasped tightly onto the impulse, sitting up straight and closing the distance between them. He slipped his marred hand out of hers and migrated it up to her chin, relishing in the soft skin there as he tilted her head gently towards him.
"Deku?" she asked in a breathy whisper that made his spine tingle with energy. Her eyes were half closed as she leaned in expectantly.
"You...you mean...just…" his face felt like it was going to combust. His words failed him, so he took action and plunged forward the rest of the way.
The nirvana washed away the thought of his scars. Or anything else he could think of, for that matter.
I tried to write angst and then fluff happened instead. Oh well.
Thank you very much to my beta reader on this story, it's simply me on .
Please, leave a review if you enjoyed it. They inspire me and I appreciate them a great deal. =)