Disclaimer: I do not own My Hero Academia.

Note: A character from chapter 136 is present (Ch136 spoilers)

Note: This story takes a few different paths. Explanations will be provided throughout the story as you read on.

Note: This is pretty much slice-of-life

Warnings: mentions of depression, mental illness, child abuse, panic attacks, bullying, suicide and dark themes


Where Golden Flowers Bloom

Chapter 1 - Flower Park

SevenRenny

Visiting random places was a habit she'd developed to ease her mind. It was easy to just say 'calm down, silly – it'll be fine!' but she already felt homesick. After moving into her own tiny apartment, Ochaco had missed hugging her parents. She missed the food they would cook together and she sort of longed for her father's lame puns. Oh, well. She had to handle living alone. She couldn't always depend on them. She would be an adult someday, so she had to get used to this.

She'd originally made the move because UA was too far from her home. Her parents wouldn't need to work so hard. She'd become a hero and share the money with them. They deserved an easier life. The move had been stressful, and she hadn't been able to sleep comfortably the first few nights; but things were getting easier. The people around here were welcoming, and she realized spending time with friends was a good way to relieve stress.

"Hey, hey, check this out!" Mina held a plastic devil mask in front of her face. The devil's eyeballs suddenly popped out, bouncing and waving around, hanging loosely to the mask by weak springs.

Toru released high pitched 'Eeep!' and Mina grinned triumphantly. The little shop in the corner wasn't anything special; just a small side shop they'd come across while walking together. Most of the items on sale were cheap kiddy toys, caps, umbrellas, greeting cards, and things one would find in an arts and crafts store.

They hadn't been planning to buy anything, but Toru just had to have that smiling onigiri plush keychain.

Her friends from UA were interesting. Aside from that Bakugo boy, most of her classmates were friendly, and while some students, like Todoroki and Tokoyami, were more on the reserved side, they were still easy to talk to and befriend. She'd quickly become friends with the girls, and Ochaco didn't have problems interacting with the other students.

However, Bakugo was the only kid she couldn't manage to befriend, and due to his explosive nature, she'd decided to keep her distance from him. The class had nineteen students, and the desk behind Bakugo was the only empty one. The blond was angry at almost everyone and everything, but she wasn't one to judge.

The shop owner's fat Shiba Inu watched by its owner's feet as Ochaco, Mina and Toru exited the shop without buying anything else. The dog plopped its head down by the old shopkeeper's shoes, too lazy to do normal dog things.

"Do you think it's around here somewhere?" Toru asked excitedly.

Mina slipped out the little card from her skirt pocket. Pictures of cartoony looking cats decorated the card. On one side, there were five paw prints, with the last had the word 'free' written over it. On the other side of the card was a map leading to the place.

Mina stopped walking, concentrating on the card. "Sooo… yea, it has to be on the right turn here." She slipped the card back in her pocket and started skipping faster than the two other girls. "C'mon, slowpokes!" The pink girl yelled back at them.

"Hey!" Toru started running after her.

"Wait up!" Ochaco smiled, speeding up as well.

Sure enough, there it was. The cat climbing post and sleeping cats by the window was a dead giveaway.

"So cute!" Toru cooed at the white cat inside the café. Ochaco beamed at the sight of so many fluff balls peeking at them from the other side of the glass. The door dinged as they walked in.

"Welcome," said an orange-haired employee. "Is this your first visit?" he asked, smiling kindly.

"Yup!" Toru nodded, though the guy probably didn't see that.

He chuckled. "Alright then." He showed them a list. "These are the things you can't bring in with you. Just leave them in the baskets. And place your shoes over there. Just grab a few slippers. Make sure to use the hand sanitizer before going in."

As Ochaco hadn't brought any 'dangly' accessories with her, she bent down and took off her shoes, sliding them into a shoe rack. From the opposite rack, she took a pair of dull slippers.

"Man, I didn't think we'd have to do all of this before going in," Mina complained, taking off her bracelets and dropping them in a mini basket. "Makes sense, I guess. Don't want them getting messed within there."

"Do you have the card?" the employee asked.

"Oh, right here!" Mina handed it over. The man stamped over one of the paw prints on the card before giving it back to Mina. After reviewing the café rules, they were allowed in.

"Waaaah!" Toru gasped in astonishment as soon as they walked in. The cat café was cat paradise. Climbing posts were at every corner. Nest-shaped cat beds were attached to the windows so the cats could get a view of the outside world. There were little steps attached to the walls that functioned as platforms for the cats to climb up.

The cats were everywhere; some slept on the wooden floor, some were on the tables meant for the guests who wanted to order drinks, and some made use of the climbing posts. The girls wasted no time messing around.

"You. Are. Freaking cute!" Mina kneeled and a grey tabby with a smooshed-in face came up to rub around her. It pushed itself on his hind legs to rub the crown of its head under her chin. Toru got on the floor to be surrounded by cats climbing over her. The shy cats stayed at a safer distance and opted to just watch.

Ochaco's apartment had a no-pet policy, and even if she could somehow have a furry cuddle buddy, she knew she wouldn't be able to afford one. After training at UA and going through one exam after another, Ochaco just wanted to cuddle something. The stress had worn her out, and she needed something to lift up her spirits again.

She was glad to accompany her friends here.

A long-haired tortoiseshell cat came up to her. "Hey!" Ochaco greeted it, sitting on the floor to be closer to it. It sniffed her face and bumped noses with her. "You're so cute! Oh, you have a name! Can I see?" Ochaco realized once she saw the tag attached to its pink collar. The name MANA was engraved there.

"Hey, Mana," Ochaco cooed at it, petting it, keeping her thumb out of the way. She didn't want to accidentally float the poor cat. The old female cat climbed on her lap and began kneading Ochaco's pants with her claws, purring. Ochaco slowly placed her hand on the cat's back, feeling the rumble of the purr through her hand.

"You guys are living the life," Mina told the group of short-haired cats. "Eat. Sleep. Play. Man, you guys have it easy, don't ya'?"

As if understanding her words, a grey Scottish Fold meowed at her.

"Girls, look!" Toru called out from the corner of the room. The vending machine in front of her buzzed before dropping a package. The invisible girl reached in and took out a small bag of treats. "They give kitty treats here!"

The cats around Mina immediately ran for Toru, crowding around her invisible legs. Toru squealed when a brown tabby decided to use her as a climbing post to reach the treats in her hand. It sat on her shoulder and pawed at the bag, trying to get to it. "Okay, okay, hold on!" She laughed.

Mina snickered. "You have food, now they all love you."

"It tickles!" Toru giggled hysterically when the cat sniffed her ear.

"If only hot boys were that easy to attract…" Mina sighed in an exaggerated manner. "I need to get laid."

Ochaco sweatdropped, but managed to smile weakly. They were in a cat café, but her friend still managed to talk about 'getting laid' and how it was hard to find dates while being a UA student.

"Izuku…" a little girl whimpered. A teenage boy and a little girl were by the tables a few feet away. From where she was sitting with the old cat still on her lap, Ochaco could see the green-haired boy sitting with the girl on his lap. A black Persian cat was on the table in front of them, curled up next to a cup of coffee.

The little girl – who seemed to have a horn on her head – looked afraid of the creature. The girl was wearing long sleeves and a blue dress with little black shoes and long white socks. The cat stretched, and the girl sunk back into the boy's chest for protection. The freckled-faced boy smiled gently and reached out to calmly brush the cats back with his hand. The girl blinked at the cat, then up at the older boy.

He gave her an encouraging smile. "See? It's okay!"

The little girl looked back at the flat-faced Persian. Swallowing, she slowly lifted a shaky hand to touch it, but stopped halfway. She saw the boy's hand over the cat's fur and slowly placed her hand over his.

The child sighed a little when the cat didn't react.

The boy chuckled. "It won't hurt you. I promise." He slowly slipped his hand from beneath hers, and gently placed it over her hand so she was touching the fur. She stilled, but didn't pull away, trusting the older boy. He slowly guided her hand in a petting motion, stroking the cat. It closed its yellow eyes and began purring.

The girl stared at it in awe, her eyes widening. Looking up at the boy, he grinned sweetly at her.

"You're doing great, Eri!" He told her proudly.

The child felt a flutter of joy in her chest. The boy – Izuku – withdrew his hand, and she was brave enough to keep petting the sleeping cat.

"Warm," the child whispered. She'd thought fluffy things felt like plush toys. She was wrong. This animal was warm and soft and moving and alive. The cat's chest gently swelled and deflated, breathing in its sleep.

As quietly as he could, Izuku brushed the long fur aside and saw the green collar. "His name's Michi. Hey, Michi!" The boy – Izuku – scratched the cat between the ears.

"Michi…" Eri repeated, not believing this creature actually had a name, just like how people had names. This wasn't like the stuffed toys she used to have. It was clear this animal was, in some ways, like her and her big brother. Izuku had said 'he', not 'it', and Eri slowly came to understand toys and animals weren't the same thing.

"Hey, Michi," she greeted the cat softly, copying her older brother.

The green-haired boy chuckled happily.

Ochaco, who had observed the whole thing, couldn't help but smile as well. It was a cute sight, really.

She watched as another cat – one with short white fur and grey markings – came up to them. At first, it spotted Michi's tail dangling from the table and started batting at it, but then turned its attention to the girl and the green-haired boy. Placing its paws on Izuku's chair, the cat stood on its hind legs and stretched its neck.

The child backed away fearfully and looked up at the older boy for guidance.

"It's okay, look," he said, placing his hand on the grey cat's head. It tilted slightly so that Izuku was rubbing one of its cheeks. "It's nice like Michi. See?"

Trusting him completely, Eri was much braver this time, reaching out and placing her palm over the cat's other cheeks. It squinted its eyes and purred. Eri smiled in wonder.

Ochaco giggled lightly, looking down at the old cat on her lap. "They're having fun, huh, Mana?" She truly loved seeing such wonderful scenes. That boy and that child were only two people out of so many in this world.

"You done ogling that guy over there?" Mina suddenly whispered in her ear.

Ochaco squealed in surprise. The cat on her lap jolted and snapped to look up at the humans. "W-Wh-Wha – Ashido?"

Mina grinned. "Seriously, girl? I was complaining how I can't find boys, and you already have your eyes on one?" she teased.

Ochaco blushed at the accusation. "W-What? No! It's not – it's not like that! I just… it was just… it was cute?" Not a very specific explanation, but that was all her mouth could say.

"I'm sure he is. So? Are ya gonna get his number?" Mina asked eagerly, dropping an arm around Ochaco's neck.

"Wait – wait, I said it's not – it's–"

"Oh, don't go all 'I wasn't staring at a cute boy' on me now! Is he even cute? Let me see!" Not giving Ochaco a chance to speak, Mina peeked over her friend to get a proper look at him.

While the one horned girl peacefully stroked Michi's fur, the curly-haired boy was talking on his phone. Squinting and failing to get a proper look at his face, Mina brought out her own phone, opened up the camera app, zoomed in on his face, and waited until his face wasn't so pixilated on screen before she took a picture.

"Ashido!" Ochaco squirmed, realizing her friend had pretty much taken a picture of a stranger. Ochaco was sure she would freak out if there was someone taking pictures of her without her knowledge.

Mina plopped down next to her, examining the picture intensely. "Mmm… not hot but… kinda cute, I guess?" she said, more to herself. "Here, I'll send it to you so you don't have to keep staring at him."

"Ah – w-wait, Ashido!" Ochaco waved her hands frantically, panicking. "Don't–"

"Done!" Mina declared.

Ochaco's phone dinged, signaling the arrival of the photo Mina had sent. The gravity girl froze like a statue. Her shoulders sagged in defeat. Mina had a strong personality. It was hard to redirect her focus, but she was still a fun friend to have, and Ochaco was grateful for that.

"Ehh… thanks… Ashido," she said nervously. "But I don't think I'll be needing it–"

"SHH!" Mina shushed her, noticing the boy and his little companion getting up.

"Come on, Eri," he encouraged her gently with a sweet smile on his face, stuffing the phone back in his pocket. "Mom's waiting. Are you ready to go home?" He offered her his hand, which she took immediately. She looked up at him and gave him a simple nod.

"Say bye to Michi."

Still holding on to his hand, the girl looked back at the sleepy cat and waved at him. "Bye, Michi," she said sadly. The cat flicked its ear.

"We'll come back again later. Would you like that, Eri?"

She perked up at that, nodding and gripping his hand in gratitude.

He chuckled.

Mina gripped Ochaco's shoulder and shook her carelessly. "He's leaving; he's leaving – go after him!"

"Wh- what? I can't. I – I don't e-even know him!" Ochaco stuttered.

"Then get to know him! Go!" Mina encouraged, grabbing the other girl by the arm and heaving her up. The old cat jumped off of Ochaco's lap.

"Ashido!" Ochaco dug her heels into the ground, but Mina kept pushing her forward. "St – stop! Hold on! A-Ashido, wait! Ashido!"

Mina tried to hook her arms under Ochaco's to lift her up, but paused as soon as she heard Toru. The invisible girl was chatting excitedly to the boy. He blinked at her in confusion and the child hid behind him.

Toru's gloved hand pointed at their direction and Ochaco almost yelped: don't point over here! By now, it was clear who Toru was talking about. The boy looked over at the two girls – With Mina still holding Ochaco – and looked down shyly, blushing and rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. He reached into his back pocket, pulled out a small notepad and used the pen from his shirt pocket to write something down, his fingers shaking. While he was distracted, Toru turned and silently gave the two girls thumbs-ups.

He tore out the paper and shyly gave it to her, rubbing the back of his neck and refusing to look up.

"Thanks!" Toru sang happily, skipping back to the two girls.

As the young man limped – yes, limped – over to the exit with the little girl, Ochaco noticed the ankle-foot brace sticking out from his right shoe.

"I got his number for you!" Toru said happily, waving the paper around like a praised trophy. "He was so sweet. I told him my friend was too shy to talk to him. He didn't mind giving his number. Here!"

"Eh?" was all Ochaco could say as her mind slowly digested what had happened.

Mina released her and took the paper. "Hagakure. You. Are. A. Genius!"

"Eeehhh!" Ochaco cupped her reddening face, realizing just what had happened.

"Hey, look! He wrote his name, too!" Mina showed Ochaco the paper. Sure enough, beneath the number was the name Izuku Midoriya. While Ochaco was busy recovering from the thought of receiving a random boy's number, Mina opened Ochaco's palm and forced the paper into her hand.

"You're welcome!" Mina said, grinning.

She came for the cats, and left with a boy's phone number…

She should apologize… but how? What could she say whiteout sounding like an idiot? Hi, I'm that girl from the cat café earlier. Remember? Not the invisible one. That was my friend! Just wanted to say sorry she asked for your number – Ochaco shook her head. That wouldn't work.

What was she trying to apologize for anyway? For getting his number? For not talking to him herself? She hadn't talked to him, and he was willing to give her his number. She remembered the way he'd blushed while writing it down. He had been flustered over a girl asking for his number.

Back at her apartment, standing half-naked, wearing just her shorts and bra, she sat on the edge of her bed and flipped open her phone. The first thing that came up was the notification bar reading: Ashido sent one image.

Oh. His photo. Now she remembered. She should delete that. He wouldn't want a stranger having a picture of him. Looking at the picture, she paused. He wasn't anything special. She'd seen people with animal Quirks, and Quirks that affected their physical appearance, so this green-haired boy was – at the very least – average looking, but there was something about him… something, like the glint in his eyes that reflected innocence, forgiveness, and the will to protect. And that smile was just too tender and loving. She knew it was just her mind reminding her that smiling was a human gesture that meant friendliness and happiness, but there was something more here… something she felt, but couldn't describe…

Maybe she'd keep the picture, for now.

"You what?" Mina slammed her hands down, slapping Ochaco's desk. "You didn't call him? Did you at least text?"

Ochaco laughed awkwardly. Honestly, she hadn't expected her friend to ask her about it so early in the morning. "I… didn't know what to say?" Well, that wasn't a lie, at least.

However, it wasn't what Mina wanted to hear. The pink girl face-palmed. "Gurl, he gave you his number. He's interested! At least text him or something; he's probably been waiting since yesterday!"

She had thought about it, but her embarrassment prevented her from typing anything. She thought she could just befriend him, but he probably thought she wanted to ask him out. What if he had been waiting for a call from her? But she still couldn't bring herself to do it. She wasn't interested in him in that way. She didn't even know who he was!

Today. She'd call him and explain she just wants to be friends with him. There. It would be a hard task, but it would fix the problem.

The classroom door slid open. "Alright, you lot. Sit down," Aizawa ordered with zero enthusiasm. Ochaco still didn't know how to feel about her homeroom teacher. He'd threatened to expel the student with the lowest score, but never actually went through with it. Because of his emotionless expression, he was hard to read. He was a good teacher, but he also had high expectations.

Then there was All Might, their Hero Studies teacher. He was enthusiastic and positive, but he tended to make little mistakes here and there. He was obviously not used to teaching, and when an exercise got out of hand, he would step in a little too late. He also had a habit of disappearing right after classes, not giving students a chance to ask him questions.

As for herself, Ochaco considered herself… maybe slightly below average. Compared to students like Todoroki, Bakugo and Yaoyorozu, Ochaco felt like her Quirk was too weak to fit into the world of Pro Heroes. She couldn't attack with it, and without touching her enemy, it was useless.

As for grades, she wasn't the best, but she wasn't the worst. No matter how hard she tried, she could never be as strong as Todoroki, or as smart as Yaoyorozu. She couldn't switch out her Quirk for another. She had to deal with being herself, and she wasn't much to begin with. Still, she'd made her decision, and she wasn't ready to back out. This was the road she chose, and she would reach the end, no matter how thick and muddy it got.

UA was time-consuming, so she didn't have much time to focus on her own needs. She was also… well, not rich, so she couldn't waste her money on useless things to entertain herself.

Just after school, she went right back to her tiny apartment. She ignored the commotion coming from the neighbors upstairs and decided to do her homework now so she could rest for the rest of the day. Taking a break after the first twelve questions, she checked her phone.

(57) Unread Messages

Iida had created a chatroom for the class, but most of the students used it as a regular chat group, sending memes and messing around. They talked so much, Ochaco ended up muting the group to save her phone's battery and to not hear the constant dinging. She'd done the same thing to the Girl's Only chatroom. Now, it only dinged if someone tagged her username; which was why she was checking her phone now.

Ashido: Uravity

Ashido: get over here!

Ochaco folded her legs so that she was more comfortable sitting on the floor. She skipped the number of texts to get to where she was needed.

You: Yeah?

Ashido: the girls want to meet up later next week

Ashido: wanna tag along?

Ochaco thought about it before answering.

You: not sure

You: to where?

Ashido: they wanna visit an ice skating rink

Ashido: Yaomomo goes there sometimes

Ashido: Told us about it

Ashido: Sounds fun

Ashido: you in?

Ice skating? She'd never gone ice skating before.

You: id love to but I don't know how to ice skate

Ashido: only Yaomomo does lol

Ashido: the rest of us are noobs XD

Ashido: gonna be a mess but I wanna have fun

Jiro: I asked Kaminari

Jiro: he said he might go too

Ashido: whyd you ask him?!

Jiro: You dragged me into this

Jiro: and I don't want to suffer alone

Jiro: I wanna see how much of an idiot he is

Ashido: lol

Ashido: Someone as Kirishima then

Jiro: I'll tell Kaminari to ask him

Hagakure: I'll ask Ojiro then!

Ashido: this turned into a whole class activity lol

Yaoyorozu: It would be best to ask the rest of the class then.

Yaoyorozu: Just to see who else would like to join

Ashido: Great!

Ashido: wait

Ashido: do we need to buy things first?

Yaoyorozu: They provide skating shoes. Don't worry about the payment.

Yaoyorozu: I'll take care of that.

Ashido: you're the best Yaomomo! ❤❤❤

Ochaco smiled at the screen. Just how did she end up with such happy-go-lucky friends?

You: ok

You: I'll go too!

You: please don't laugh if I fall ;D

Ashido: I doubt youll be the only one tripping there lol

Ashido: Our class

Ashido: Ice skating

Ashido: The world is doomed

Jiro: we're gonna die aren't we?

Hagakure: XD

She giggled at their antics. With that done, she went back to whatever was left of her homework. After what felt like hours, she put down her pink pen, stretched her arms above her head before she fell onto her back, staring at an upside-down window.

The sky looks nice. She was a simple girl. She wanted what everyone else wanted: joy. At least, that's what she thought everyone wanted as well. Sighing, she decided a nice walk would do her good.

Visiting the flower park had been one of the greatest decisions she'd made today. While she did need to pay for the entrance fee, it was worth it. The smell of grass eased her worries. It was when she heard a familiar voice that she felt her muscles tighten in surprise.

"Big fish, big brother?" That innocent voice…

"Yeah. Koi fish. They get pretty big," the other voice said happily.

Over by one of the many ponds around the park, there he was, the same boy she'd seen at the cat café. He was with that little girl again. They were kneeling by the pond, looking down at the fat fish that had gathered, opening and closing their glistening mouths, waiting for food.

He grabbed the little girl's hand and gently handed her pebble-like fish food that he'd probably gotten from those dispensers. She leaned in to drop a few pebbles into the water. He made sure to hold on to her so she wouldn't fall in.

Ochaco inhaled deeply, trying to make herself feel braver. She needed to talk to him properly. While she was flattered that her friends were trying to help her, she was also utterly embarrassed. The poor guy had a random girl ask for his number without a proper explanation, and then Ochaco never actually used the number. No matter how embarrassing the situation was, she needed to explain what really happened.

Standing right behind him, she clasped her hands together. She swallowed down her nervousness and spoke carefully. "Umm… excuse me?"

"Gah!" The boy yelped. Still in a kneeling position, he snapped his head back to see who had snuck up behind him, and slowly felt himself tip backward. In a hopeless attempt to regain his balance, his arms flapped frantically by his sides.

Ochaco gasp and quickly grabbed hold of the front of his jacket and yanked. The little child squirmed by his leg worriedly, dropping the pebbles and grabbing his knee, not wanting him to join the Koi fish in the pond.

Thanks to the two girls, he was saved.

He sighed in relief.

"I'm so - I'm so sorry – are you alright?" Ochaco asked, fretting over him.

He rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah... Sorry about that. I'm f-fine. I just got surprised," he chuckled awkwardly.

"I'm sorry! I – I didn't mean to scare you!" Ochaco apologized quickly, her words tumbling over each other.

"It's fine – really!" he insisted frantically. He was on the ground, flat on his butt. She was sitting in front of him with her legs bent beneath her. His eyes slowly widened in realization and he suddenly looked down, blushing. "Oh you're… you're from… from back at the…?"

Ochaco twirled her fingers nervously, nodding. "Sorry I never told you my name. I'm Ochaco Uraraka." Okay, just keep cool. He looks as uncomfortable as you are.

"O-Oh. Izuku Midoriya. N-Nice to meet you," he forced the words out, his cheeks blushing bright red.

Eri kept looking from him to Ochaco, then to him again, tilting her head in confusion. They all sat there like that for a while…

Well, what a nice way to start.

They managed to find a bench to sit on just near another pond. Eri was busy observing the ducks swimming around in the pond as Ochaco tried miserably to let him understand her situation.

"Sorry I freaked you out earlier…" she apologized again, fiddling with the folds of her shirt.

"Hey, it's fine. I should have been paying attention!" He tried to calm her.

Eri sat on the grass, watching with interest as the duck dipped its head underwater.

The two on the bench sat in silence.

"Is she your little sister?" Ochaco asked, feeling like she needed to start the conversation.

He blinked. "My sister?" he asked, looking over at the sight of the younger girl in front of them. "I… guess you can say that. We're not related, but I still see her like a baby sister to me."

Ochaco looked at him curiously.

He realized how vague he answer had sounded. "Ah, I mean… it's… kind of a long story. She's been through a lot, so my mom and I took her in."

"Oh, so you're taking care of her now?" she asked, feeling her nervousness wash away.

"Hmm." He nodded. "We're not sure how long we can keep her, so I want to show her a good time while she's still with us. The… situation's a little complicated right now," he admitted meekly.

"Oh…" She had a feeling the story behind the girl was way more complicated, but she'd just met him, so she didn't feel like it was right to ask for a deeper explanation. "She's really cute."

"Yeah, she gets that a lot." He chuckled.

Okay; so far so good. She was in the right direction. "I saw her back at the café and thought she was adorable, but my friends… well… thought… I… I wasn't looking at her…" Ochaco turned her face down, hoping she wasn't blushing too hard.

"O…Oh…" His eyes widened in realization. He pointed at his chest. "M…Me…? They thought…"

She nodded.

"Is… Was that why... your friend...?"

She nodded again.

"Oh..."

"Yeah…"

Awkward silence. The ducks splashed, chasing each other in the water. A couple passed behind them. Then…

"I…" She refused to look at him, running his fingers through her hair. "Sorry if I… you know… embarrassed you. I put you in a bad spot and…"

"No, no, it's okay!"

"… and I should've talked to you sooner–"

"Uraraka, it – it was just a misunderstanding!"

"–but I didn't know what to say and I got all nervous…"

"I – ah…"

"And I made you wait and I made you think I'd call you when I didn't."

"It's… it's fine, really. It's alright." He tried to laugh it off.

"But… but still!" She gazed at him, determination burning in her eyes. "I still want to be your friend!"

He blinked. "…eh?"

She smiled at him this time. "Can we? Be friends?"

He blinked again, not believing what was going on. "Ahh…" He suddenly snapped out of it and looked away. "…Really?" he seemed too shocked and surprised.

Smiling brightly, she nodded.

It looked like he couldn't believe this was all real. "I mean… s-sure, if… if that's okay with you…"

"Yay!" She cheered, punching the sky. "I'll give you my number."

"Y-Yeah. Sure…" it sounded like he was deep in his own thoughts.

To her delight, turned out Midoriya was easy to get along with. He was a little on the shy side, but was nice and friendly and harmless, she couldn't compare him to anyone in her class. For someone with a bad leg, he liked to walk a lot. At some point, she'd forgotten he needed that foot brace on his right foot. He walked while carrying Eri on his shoulders just fine so she could reach for the dangling flowers as they passed under a Wisteria Tunnel. It didn't seem like he was in any pain, and aside from his ankle, the rest of his leg moved normally.

"UA?" he gasped.

She laughed weakly, nodding while walking next to him.

"Is…" His eyes brightened. "Is All Might really your teacher, then?"

Eri, who held on to his head, looked down at him in confusion.

"Yeah, Foundational Hero Studies Teacher."

Judging from the All M shirt he wore under that jacket, she guessed he might be a fanboy.

"So cool!" He beamed, his eyes sparkling. Was it possible to see actual stars in someone's eyes? "Is… is it okay if…"

He didn't need to complete that sentence. "You want his autograph?" She giggled when he nodded, the blush returning to his face. "Sure! I'll ask him after class later," she told him happily.

"Thank you so much!"

He was bashful, but noticeably strong-willed. He had an on-and-off button when he talked. He either wouldn't speak, or he'd say super long sentences and stumble over his words. They continued walking slowly through the flower park. At some point, he lifted Eri off his shoulder and put her down, but kept holding her hand as they walked.

"Do you want to sit down somewhere?" She asked him. She hadn't asked about his foot, and feared the question might make him feel uncomfortable.

"I'm good. Don't worry about this," he gestured to his bad foot. "I run with it sometimes. It's fine," he assured her kindly.

Sure enough, they walked across the curved red bridge without any problems. The large Koi fish swam beneath them. During the whole time, Eri seemed to cling to Izuku. He had tried to introduce her to Ochaco, but she hugged him and pressed her face into his clothes, trying to hide.

Ochaco remembered what he had told her. 'She's been through a lot.' She guessed Eri normally behaved that way in front of strangers; however, after Ochaco and Izuku started sharing their interest over Thirteen, Eri didn't seem so frightened anymore.

That was another thing. Izuku looked up to Heroes, and even mentioned how he'd take notes of them and how'd analyze their Quirks and weaknesses. He seemed to open up more as Ochaco talked with him.

"You haven't started school yet?"

He shook his head no. "It's… kind of a long story. Some things happened and… well, we're putting things on hold for now."

As they exited the flower tunnel, they moved to the side to sit on a bench next to a tiny wooden shop that sold packaged seeds and pot storage trays. Izuku heaved the little girl and sat her comfortably on his lap. She leaned back against his chest, seeming content and protected with him.

It accrued to Ochaco that Eri did not behave like most children. She looked to be around five or six, yet, she hadn't spoken a word in front of her. Ochaco had, however, heard the girl say 'fish' before Ochaco had spoken to the boy back near the pond. The way this girl looked around was… unusual? Ochaco couldn't put her finger on it. Eri interacted with things as if she'd never seen them before. She seemed fearful of loud noises and strangers, and she had yet to smile. It was as if she didn't know her facial expressions could actually change. She tended to look at hands instead of faces for some reason.

She and her big brother looked too different to be related, and Izuku had admitted he and his mother had taken the girl in. Eri had red eyes and white hair, while Izuku had green eyes and dark green hair. And while they weren't related by blood, the child was awfully clingy to Izuku.

She almost always looked to him for guidance, asking him – 'Is this safe? Can I do that? Is this okay?'– through eye contact alone. If she felt too scared to do something, such as touch a cat, she'd back away, but if big brother Izuku stepped in, then she'd copy him, because, to a child like Eri, big brother Izuku knew more than her.

Izuku was obviously doing his best to get her to peek out of her shell. He gently encouraged her to interact with the world around her: cats, fish, flowers, etc. He'd explain things that fascinated her so she could get a better understanding of them. And that was another thing Ochaco had noticed. The little girl didn't understand most things around her.

"Thanks for hanging out with us today," Izuku told Ochaco. "I want Eri to get used to people, but we moved apartments a few times and after my surgeries and whatnot, I never got to… you know… plan things out better, so…"

Ochaco smiled. "I'm glad I tagged along then! It was so much fun. Maybe we can do this again sometime?"

He looked at her in astonishment, and then gave her a bright smile. "I… thank you. I'd like that. Eri, would you like to see Uraraka again sometime?"

Eri looked up at him, then at her, before she gave a tiny, shy nod.

That was enough to widen Izuku's smile. It seemed like he was proud of her answer.

"Great!" Ochaco beamed and extended her hand, holding it in front of the little girl. "I'll see you again soon, okay, Eri?"

Eri gazed at her, thinking. She then gave her a nod and reach out with her tiny hand to hold Ochaco's.

Ochaco had to admit; she was happy.

When she'd decided to visit the cat café, she hadn't planned to leave with a phone number.

When she'd decided to visit the flower park, she hadn't planned on making friends.

When she'd talked to Izuku that day, she hadn't planned to be part of a child's rehabilitation.

She was glad. For everything.

Walking away from the park, she flipped open her phone and added the new contact to the list.

TBC


Notes:

-This is just a glimpse of what I'm working on. I'm not done with it just yet, and while I don't usually post multi-chapter stories, this ended up being too long for a one-shot. Readers informed me that my other story, 'Try To Live, With Me, For You, And For Me' was a little too long. I've already pushed past the 5,000 words mark here, and I'm not even halfway into the story yet, so I decided to split it up into chapters.

-I was planning on posting this after I finished writing all - or at least - most of the chapters, but I haven't posted something in a while, and I still have a lot to work on. Here's the first chapter, just to let you know I'm still writing.

-I'm not going to update until a finish at least a few more chapters. I used to post stories regularly, but I just started university again, so things might slow down a little, but I do still write in the morning and before bed.

-After I found out there was a cat café in my country, I decided to take a look. I'm not sure how cat cafés work in other countries, but I'm sure there are a few differences with how each one works. The stamp card is something that's regularly used at the pet groomers I sometimes take my pets to. I thought I might add it in just for fun.

-The payment for the cat café depends on how long you wish to stay. And yeah you can still order drinks normally.

-And yeah, Eri is in this story, because, well, why the fuck not? I know, I know, I basically butchered the timelines and all that jazz, but hey, when has my brain ever cooperated with me? It does what it does, and trying to reason with it will get me nowhere, so I just went with the flow.

-I felt like the story was all over the place. But, hey, it's the best I can come up with while feeling like the outside world is ready to eat me. I don't know if it shows, but I wrote this while I wasn't feeling too well. I had to play some sort of white noise in the background to motivate myself to keep writing. If I don't write, I feel worse. I feel like going mad if it's too quiet.