In his apartment, Izuku paced back and forth, occasionally glancing at the clock. In a few short hours would be Ochako's birthday party, one that he would not dare to be even a second late to. He knew what to give her, but he needed a way to present it. He told himself, Think, Izuku, think! C'mon, you're Deku, the hero who could do anything! As his fingers fumbled with something in his pocket, he had an idea. He would tell her how he truly felt with a letter, his hand being able to release words and emotions too large and complex to leave his throat.

He removed the clutter of notes regarding villains and heroes alike from his desk, and he sat down with a pen, ready to leave his mark on the paper. However, as soon as he pressed the tip to the letter, Izuku lifted it away, now doubtful. I'm already calling her Ochako, so should I do it in the letter, or should I be formal and address her by her last name? Maybe her full name? Grr, I don't know! He clutched his head with his free hand, testing to see if the stress had overheated his brain already. He shouldn't spend valuable time by worrying over such a minute detail, yet here he was, fussing over something as simple as the greeting. Frustrated, he decided to just start writing and make a final copy after finishing the draft.

He hit another roadblock soon after. He wanted to confess to Ochako what she genuinely meant to him, the thoughts of her that he kept to himself after so many years of knowing each other. When Izuku thought of her, he saw a close friend, someone that he would entrust his life to in a heartbeat with the unwavering belief that she would keep his heart beating. He saw her unwavering drive to push herself beyond her limits in order to achieve her goal. Hearing the name Uravity, he envisioned a heroine that would do anything for those she cared about, to the point of risking her life to help them in any way she could. Beneath her acts of heroism, he saw a kind-hearted soul at the core, one that would lift the weight of the world off of your shoulders if you so much as asked her to, and she would do so without batting an eye. Nevertheless, Izuku knew from experience that she was the type of person to hide her emotions well, like a light bright enough to blind a person from what was around them.

He lightly tapped the pen's end against his face as he pondered, What does she actually think about me? Publicly, Ochako carried a sort of vibe, an energy, that vitalized those around her, which had won over the crowd many-a-time. Privately, whenever he felt the duties of being Japan's number one hero and the Symbol of Peace stab into his mind and soul, she was always there to comfort him. Reminded of all the times she worried about him, he wondered, Am I… a burden to her? Am I hurting her by being a hero? His pen hand started to quiver at the thought.

Izuku knew that he shouldn't think that way, that he was one of the great heroes that kept Japan and the world safe from evildoers, but his train of thought refused to stop or to turn towards a new path. Instead, it barreled along the tracks of his mind, threatening to rip them apart as it rushed. As his mind replayed images of Ochako's pained expression and clips of her shattered voice whenever he was seriously hurt, voices seemed to echo around the room, though he knew nobody was there. He remembered his experiences, some that had been buried in the dark depths of his subconscious, since even before he was a high school student attending U.A. From years long past, he heard doctors' warnings of useless limbs, the complaints of damage caused during the year he started as an official hero, the screams of help and last words from lives he couldn't save. He tried to build a wall of positive thoughts to block the bombardment of words against his psyche, but a few distinguishable people shattered it: Nighteye telling him that he was the "inferior" inheritor of One for All, Shouta Aizawa calling him a hero that needed saving, Katsuki naming him Deku, or the boy that couldn't do anything.

Amidst the noise rebounding in his head, he didn't hear his pen clatter as it landed onto the desk. Even if he did hear it, he couldn't do anything about it. As his heart pounded like a jackhammer while his lungs attempted to crush it because of his deep yet rushed breaths, his body would not move, almost if it were affected by a paralyzing Quirk. It would not even shake in fear when he heard another voice, one he never thought he'd hear again, cut through and silence all the rest.

Izuku swore that he felt someone breathe down his neck as the voice uttered, a deranged bloodlust made apparent, "A man's true nature is not one to be easily changed… The weak must be culled. What are you, and what will you do?" As sweat beaded on his forehead despite feeling his blood run cold, Izuku felt the urge to throw up, and fighting the urge instead gave him the sensation of choking on his own bile. There should've been nobody in the room, and Izuku knew that the hero-killer, Stain, had been locked up years ago without so much as seeing the light of day. Hell, Stain even offered to let him live when they fought! That knowledge did little to prevent his imagination, an integral part of him normally devastating to his foes and vital to teamwork, from giving him the idea that the sharp end of a knife was pressed against his jugular. To no avail, he tried to call upon the power of One for All. Instead, he felt nothing but numbness throughout his body as as he felt long ago in that dark alleyway. As he waited for the knife to slide across his vein, he closed his eyes, attempting to find comfort in the darkness as he told the world goodbye. However, the cut never came.

Instead, Izuku heard a familiar person speak out, telling him that he was Deku, the hero that could do anything, the hero that would never give up, and a soothing warmth enveloped him. He quickly regained control of his body, and as his eyes darted around the room, assuring him that there was never anyone else in there with him then, he recalled the kind words Ochako told him throughout the years. Determined to finish his letter, Izuku picked up his fallen pen and began to furiously yet carefully jot down his thoughts. As years of memories with her came flooding back, he couldn't help but start to cry. He rapidly rubbed tears away from his eyes to prevent them from staining the paper. With a small grin, he thought, Go figure. Even when I'm trying to write a letter about what I think of her, she always finds a way to help.

In what he perceived as eternity, Izuku stopped writing. He set the paper down, and read through the letter, making sure that nothing was written incorrectly and that his thoughts came out clearly. To his relief, he spotted none, and even if he did, he didn't want to write it out again. What had been etched into the surface of the paper were his genuine feelings, and he believed that copying them onto another would only dilute their meaning and render his emotions void. Reaching into his pocket, he suddenly decided to include its important contents after adding two more sentence and before marking the letter with his signature and sealing it in an envelope. Finished with the letter, he got dressed for the event before leaving his apartment with the letter, having abandoned a small box, meant to hold something of value, at his desk.

Ochako had kept her modesty and frugalness from her days as a penny-pinching girl, and if left up to her, she would've held a birthday party that reflected her humble background. Her fellow alumni, however, wanted to treat her, and they decided to host a nightly dinner for her at a fancy restaurant. A click of wine glasses sounded the celebration of Ochako, and her old classmates enjoyed the appetizers together. Still boyfriend and girlfriend, Izuku and Ochako sat directly across from each other due to the seating arrangement mapped out by their good friend, Tenya. She couldn't help but wonder why Izuku seemed so tense. After the appetizers came gift-opening. Ochako walked over to the table holding them, and her eyes rested on a bulging letter laid against the stack of presents, addressed to her from Izuku. Without hesitation, she seized it, but she took the time to open it, making sure to not rip the envelope. She glanced at Izuku, and without a word, he nodded his head, giving her the approval to read it aloud. Unfolding the paper, she began reading. As she read it, she vocalized her shock and gradually struggled to continue speaking, until she nearly choked on the last words. As she spoke, Katsuki looked away from the writer with remorse, being reminded of and having regretted his actions as an adolescent.

Dear Ochako,

We've been together for years now, having been dating for the last few. Since I met you, you've spurred many emotions from within me. I've empathize with your struggles and resonated with your feelings of uselessness. Going through my memories for times of joy, I've found that most of them are with you. Before I met you, it was a long time since I felt needed, since I felt that I truly had purpose in this life. You inspired me to push forward in being a hero time and time again, regardless of what others said. You've changed me for the better, just as you changed the meaning of "Deku" so that it became a name I cherish even now. You've given me so much, and I felt as though all I gave in return was the pain of having to deal with a person that would risk injury and death so easily for a stranger. Then, I remembered the kind words you gave me throughout these years, and those thoughts are swiftly put to rest. You've always been a pillar that supported me, a person that would take the weight of the world away from my shoulders without so much as a complaint or sign of burden, and you've always told me that I was your pillar of strength. To me, you're an unbreakable diamond worth far more than your mass in gold. For your birthday, what I have to offer is myself, so that we may continue supporting each other until we have to leave this world. To put it simply, Ochako, will you marry me?

With all my love,


The dot for the question mark at the end was surrounded by a golden engagement ring with a diamond embedded into it, stuck to the paper with clear tape. She turned to Izuku, shaking and with tear-filled eyes and a gaping mouth. She cried out, "Izuku! Is this… really true?"

With tears to match hers, happy to finally reveal his true feelings, Izuku replied confidently, "Yes! It's what I thought of you this entire time!"

Without warning, she had trapped him in a tight hug, and as tears streamed down her rosy cheeks, she shouted, "Yes, yes, YES! I'll marry you, Izuku!" They looked into each other's eyes before sharing an incredibly joyful kiss.

Their old friends and even the staff started to applaud the two, all clearly happy for the two. Just as he surprised them back in high school, Izuku found a way to astonish them here. Another toast was made, this time wishing Izuku and Ochako a happy marriage before the wedding even began. Before the dinner ended, the alumi unanimously agreed that Izuku's gift to Ochako was the best one given to her.

A/N: Hello, fellows! Late again, yes, but I finally wrote a story for Ochako's birthday! Truth be told, I found the inspiration to write from a gift I received for Christmas, a Funko figure of Ochako (The box spells it otherwise, but I've grown too attached to the -ko) herself. I already own a Funko keychain of Izuku, and I thought the size difference humorous. At least, until I thought, Is this what Izuku thinks of himself compared to her? Anyway, I've got a few weeks before having to return to college, so maybe I'll keep writing until the spring semester starts.