The studio was very crowded when Izuku arrived with his mother. There were more than double the usual amount of people on set and while he knew that the cast was going to end up being large, he was certain that it wasn't supposed to be this large. Even the usual break room was overflowing with people when he arrived.
"Izuku! Inko!" Hisashi called out to them, but it was a while before they could see him through the crowd. Once Hisashi reached them he hugged his son and placed a quick kiss on his wife's lips.
"Why is it so crowded today, Hisashi?" Inko questioned. She had a small basket resting on her arm where she'd brought a picnics worth of food for breakfast. She knew that today was supposed to be a pretty busy day, but Izuku still thought that she'd overdone it on the food.
"We need a lot of extras today," Hisashi answered. "The backstage team can fill some of the roles, but we needed to have a crowd ready. You'll have to go to Izuku's dressing room if you want any peace."
"Alright, then." Inko answered. "Nothing wrong with it being a little livelier." She smiled at him and Izuku could see some of the tension releasing from Hisashi's shoulders. Inko was one of the most positive people that Izuku knew. It was very odd watching her on set being anxious and worried all the time, when Izuku felt like his mother almost never worried about anything.
Hisashi smiled at her. "It's always nice to have you on set, Inko." Some days Izuku wished that he could take over as Director just to let his parents have some time alone. They looked so happy to be in each other's company that it was a shame that it didn't happen all that often. Maybe it was enough to have his family able to visit in and be able to bring them into his world. He seemed genuinely happy when he was working and it only increased when they were both around.
"Hey dad, has Katsuki showed up yet?" Izuku asked. He didn't like his chances of finding his best friend among so many people. Izuku wasn't even certain he'd be able to make it to his dressing room without being turned around in the crowd.
"Yeah, he and Takeyama should be in his dressing room." Hisashi answered.
"Cool." Izuku turned to his mom. "I'm gonna invite them for breakfast, okay mom?"
"Sure thing, sweetie." Inko answered. She turned her attention to Hisashi. "Do you have time to eat with us before you start? I brought quite a bit of food."
"I supposed the special effects team would appreciate having more time to work." He agreed.
Letting them have time to themselves while he went off to find his best friend was the least that Izuku could do. Still, it took longer than Izuku was expecting to get through the crowd. He passed a lot of people that were getting hair touched up or make up added. One person was having prosthetic limbs adjusted in a fan around their body! Izuku wondered how full the actual make up rooms must have been for something that complicated to be done just off to the side. He wondered if that guy was another extra or not. His memory of the full cast was fuzzy. He'd only met most of them once for the opening and ending credits sequence and that had been a while ago.
He was surprised to find Katsuki standing in the doorway to Ochako's dressing room, though from his expression Izuku was fairly certain that he didn't really want to be there. Ochako was smiling at him brightly, her hands framing her face as she asked, "What do you think?"
"I think it looks fine," Katsuki said.
"It's not supposed to look fine," Ochako replied with a frown. "It's supposed to look cute. I have to keep this look for the entire show, you know."
"I'm sure she knows what she's doing," Katsuki said, gesturing to the make up artist. Once Izuku moved closer, he could see that it was Reiko. Izuku was starting to feel a little bad for the girl, first having to deal with Toshinori being grumpy and nor Ochako's diva tendencies.
"I'm sorry if it isn't up to your standards," Reiko said quietly.
"You don't need to apologize," Katsuki said. "It looks fine. It looks nice!"
"You can't say that it looks fine and nice," Ochako complained, planting her arms on her hips. "It's one or the other. This is my time to shine! I'm finally gonna be in the whole episode and you're trying to ruin my chances with lackluster advice."
Katsuki frowned. "You're the one that asked for my help."
"I'm starting to regret it," She said with a sigh and a hair flip.
Katsuki gave her a flat stare. "Fine, I'm leaving."
Ochako's eyes widened with panic. "No wait!"
Katsuki turned to see Izuku standing not far from them and the blond gave him a tired smile. He approached at a tired pace. "Hey, Izuku."
"Hey, Katsuki. Having trouble?" Izuku asked with a grin. His friend was sometimes too polite to say no and it often amused Izuku to see what he could get himself into. Katsuki just sighed deeply.
"Izuku!" Ochako said cheerfully. She stuck her face out of the door with a bright smile as she asked, "How do I look?"
"Like you're trying too hard," Izuku answered quickly.
Her expression fell immediately. Her frown became a glare and then a pout as she said, "I meant the make up." She pointed to her cheeks with both hands, an pose that was actually pretty cute, but was completely undermined by her expression. "I'm trying to find the cutest color. I have to wear this for the rest of my life, you know."
"The rest of the show is not the rest of your life," Izuku corrected.
"That depends on how popular the show is," She argued.
"No show last forever."
She made a dissatisfied noise and stomped her foot. "Just help me out here."
Izuku sighed and shook his head. "You want my honest opinion, Ochako?"
"Yes, absolutely." She told him, smiling and standing right in front of him. She looked at him expectantly and Izuku placed his hands on her shoulders.
"My honest opinion," He said, "Is for you to shut up and let Reiko do her job. She gets paid to do this, I'm pretty sure she knows what she's doing."
Ochako's face fell into a frown. "Your opinion sucks," She told him.
Izuku shrugged as he removed his hands from her shoulders. "You asked." He turned back to face Katsuki. "I came to invite you to breakfast in my room."
Ochako stormed back into her room and tossed herself back into the make up chair that was in front of the mirror. "Get rid of all of this and do it over," She said.
"I'm sorry that I failed your expectations," Reiko said.
"Whatever. You can do whatever color you want this time, I guess, but if you fail me-"
"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that I'm not good enough to live up to your expectations. I'll try harder. I'll keep trying harder even though I'll never be worthy of your trust in my skill. I'm sorry that my skills are so very paltry-"
"Am I going to have to listen to this while you do my make up again?" Ochako asked with a groan.
"I'm sorry. I'll be silent. I didn't mean to-"
"Ugh!" Ochako's dismayed groan followed them down the hall.
"Man, Reiko is always so stressed out." Izuku said. Though he couldn't blame her, having to work with the most difficult cast members so far. Or at least, the two that were in most opposition to her own personality.
"I'm not sure who I feel worse for," Katsuki said. "Hey, did you notice all the robots around here? I think they're supposed to be stage props, but they actually move. It's weird."
"Speaking of robots," Izuku said. "Did I tell you my theory about Choppy Arms?"
"Aoyama, stop looking directly at the camera," Hisashi called out. Izuku didn't remember who 'Aoyama' was by name, but there was only one person that kept looking directly at the camera. Izuku sighed and took the opportunity to shake out his stiff muscles.
"But the camera keeps looking directly at me," Aoyama replied with a wink to the cameraman. Or maybe to the camera itself, Izuku wasn't sure. The guy was either very narsisistic or very flirty. "You can't expect me to ignore such a thing, can you?"
"Yes, you can. Literally everyone else can do it." Hisashi sighed. "Let's take five before we try again."
"Why do you keep insisting upon ruining everyone else's hard work?" Choppy Arms asked, scolding Aoyama and threatening to use his Kung Fu grip. Izuku was kinda hoping he would. He wanted to see what would happen. Maybe the guy had a rocket fist, too? He should ask Mei. If anyone would know, it had to be her, right?
"Who, me? I've never ruined anything a day in my life," He replied, turning to wink at the camera once more.
"We aren't even filming right now?" Karate Chop said.
"Midoriya," Reiko's soft voice called out. "I need to take you to make up... for the next scene... I'm sorry to have to bother you about this-"
"No, no, it's fine Reiko." Izuku said, cutting off what he expected would have been a lengthy tirade of apologies and self deprecation. He weaved through the crowded studio on his own for a few minutes, pausing every time any one bumped into Reiko or crossed her path and she erupted into apologies and excuses, before he just took her by the shoulders and steered her himself. Walking with her was ten times slower and more stressful with a crowded studio and he really didn't want to drag things out.
"You know that you don't have to do that, right?" He asked.
"Do what?" Reiko questioned. He was almost surprised how malleable she made herself in his hands, but once he considered her personality, the surprise evaporated. He should be more surprised that she wasn't apologizing for slowing him down or something.
"Apologize all the time."
She sent him a questioning look over her shoulder, which was fine since he was controlling where she went anyway. "But I have to show remorse and repentance for my incompetence." The straight faced seriousness of that statement was almost too much for Izuku to take in.
"I think you need to redefine your idea of incompetence." Izuku told her.
"Please do not apologize to me, Reiko." He tried to contain the exasperation in his voice, since it would absolutely undermine his point. "It's fine. Nothing is wrong. No one made any mistakes, I promise you."
She didn't look like she believed him, but she faced forward and resisted the urge to pour out anymore apologies. It was probably the most that he could ask for. He left himself feel the relief of this single victory.
Katsuki and Mei were both in his dressing room when Izuku entered. The two were sitting side by side on the couch with a spread of take out containers on the table before them. Katsuki nodded at him, but Mei seemed to be too busy stuffing her face to acknowledge him right away. He released Reiko's shoulders and she went straight to the dressing table to gather and arrange supplied as Izuku looked at his friends with confusion. "Party in my own dressing room and no one invited me?" He asked.
"Lunch break for Mei," Katsuki said, pointing to her with his chopsticks as he ate from a take out container. "We saved you some, if you want." He pointed to a bag sitting beside him.
"Thanks, but I'll save it for later." Izuku answered. He went to sit in the make up chair while he waited for Reiko to get things set up. "What are you two doing together?"
"I ran into her when she went on a lunch run and she pulled me along with her," Katsuki said. Yeah, that sounded like Mei.
"Why are you in my dressing room and not yours?" Izuku questioned.
Katsuki shrugged. "She wanted to talk to you, I guess."
Mei finally stopped trying to inhale her food and it was only after she placed the container on the table that he realized she stopped because it was empty. She took a breath and leaned back against the couch. "That's the first thing I've eaten all day," She said in a lazy content voice.
Katsuki gaped. "Are you kidding? How long have you been here?" He demanded.
Mei shrugged. "Not sure. Monoma didn't get here 'til six and I'd already been here a while by that point."
"How did you even get in that early?" Izuku asked.
"The department head gave me a key so I could get more work done," Mei answered with another shrug. "Monoma made a lot of the parts, well Kendo helped too, but I had to do the complicated stuff for the ones that are supposed to move."
Katsuki and Izuku shared a disbelieving look before Katsuki said, "Wow. You're actually kind of amazing Mei."
"What do you mean actually?" She frowned at them. "Are you implying that I wasn't amazing before?"
"I need you to take your shirt off," Reiko said quietly.
Izuku complied without protest and she leaned over his arm. "So, hey, do you know about Kung Fu grip?" Mei gave him a confused look, so he explained further. "The guy that moved like a robot and chops his arms all over the place."
"Oh! Him. What about him?" Mei asked.
"Did you make him?"
"No..." Mei answered slowly, tilting her head in confusion. Then her eyes lit up and she slid forward, perching on the edge on the couch. "Wait, you don't mean..."
"I saw him get really upset at the idea of having to smash those robots earlier," Katsuki said thoughtfully. "Your theory has some weight, Izuku."
Mei's eyes lit up. "This needs investigation! I have to ask Monoma if he knows anything."
"Speaking of, how do you hang out with him and not find him ob-" Katsuki stopped himself mid word and Izuku smiled at the idea that his best friend was trying to find a replacement for the word obnoxious. Katsuki chose a different statement as he asked, "Isn't he a little much?"
"He's not so bad after a while," Mei said, waving off the comment. "We work well together. He's really talented and he works on more than just special effects like I do, so it's easy to coordinate with him. He's like a self appointed captain. He gets the job done."
"I'm not surprised that the two of you get along," Izuku said. "Your egos probably bounce off of each other like an off tune echo chamber."
"You keep saying these unflattering things about me, I can't help but notice," Mei said calmly.
"I'm surprised you noticed," Izuku replied.
"I think that you're feeling neglected because I've been busy all day," Mei told him.
"You'd be wrong about that," Izuku said.
"As long as I've got you here," Mei started with a bright smile, but Katsuki placed a hand over her mouth.
"Aren't you supposed to be on a break?" He asked. "How can you want to talk about work when this is the first time you've eaten all day?"
She pulled Katsuki's hands off with a pout. "Work will always be better than food," She said firmly.
"You're insane," Katsuki told her in a deadpan tone.
"It's not insane to sacrifice food, sleep, and freedom to better one's craft," She told them both firmly.
Katsuki and Izuku looked at each other before Izuku said, "Mei, yes it is."
She huffed. "Rest is for the weak."
"That's also what you say about safety precautions, showers, and government supervision." Reiko added quietly. Honestly, Izuku had almost forgotten that she was even there.
Mei shrugged. "They only hold you back."
"Mei," Izuku said. He waited until she looked at him before he spoke. "Never speak to me if you've gone more than twelve hours without a shower."
Mei groaned. "You're being as picky as Monoma now."
"Oh my god, are you less crazy than he is?" Katsuki asked. He looked at her with a horrified expression and Izuku couldn't help but express a similar look. "Maybe the robot is the most sane person in the cast."
"I refuse to accept that," Izuku said. "Do you know how miserable I would be if that were true?"
Mei cracked her neck before pushing herself off of the couch. "Well, I'm gonna go guys. I need to make sure nothing has malfunctioned."
"Do you ever stop?" Katsuki questioned.
"Not if I can help it," She told them. "See you guys!" She waved as she left the room.
"Reiko," Izuku said slowly. "I'm so glad that you're my make up artist."
The girl paused, looking at him with wide and surprised eyes. "Thank...you." There was a pause before she added. "I really don't deserve such extravagant praise, even though I am happy to recieve and do everything that I can to be worthy or compliments, I realize that I cannot ever-"
"You're ruining the moment, Reiko." Izuku said with a sigh.
"Alright. It's getting pretty late folks. Let's wrap it up." Hisashi called out. Inko approached him from the sidelines immediately, smiling and chatting with her husband now that he had a free moment.
Izuku sighed, pulling off his green screen gloves and rubbing his cheek. "You hit pretty hard, Ochako."
Ochako winced as she pulled herself off of the prop that she was laid across. "Sorry, I didn't mean to put so much force into it. I was a little nervous. Are you alright?" She asked.
"I'll be fine," He told her.
She smiled at him apologetically. She looked as cute as her character was supposed to and he was kind of impressed. It made it easier to fake having a crush on her. "Um, do you need..." She made a gesture toward his face.
"You'll never get anywhere if something like that can bring you down!" Yelled a voice from the sidelines.
"Leave him alone, Monoma." Someone's exasperated reply quickly followed.
Izuku shook his head and turned toward his father. "Are we done here, dad?"
"Yeah, you kids can go." Hisashi answered. "I'll look over all the footage and call you in if there need to be reshoots later."
"Cool." Izuku answered. He stretched out his arms and legs while Ochako hovered around nervously. He looked at her with an expectant look. "Yes?"
"Um, I'm sorry for, uh, being kinda..." She played with her fingers as she searched for an appropriate word.
"Dramatic?" He offered. Which was much kinder than some of the other words that came to mind, but she really wasn't that bad. Not in small doses. He planned to keep their interactions to as small a dose as he could, even once she was on set more. He didn't need more headaches. Listening to All Might and Present Mic talking to each other in character was bad enough, and All Might seemed to always want to be in character.
She flushed and pressed her lips together tightly, not pleased with his assessment but also not arguing. "Y-yeah, that."
"Don't worry about it," Izuku said. "Just tone it down, maybe."
"Y-yeah." She was still waiting around. Her eyes were on the ground and she was playing with her fingers nervously. Izuku couldn't be sure what she wanted, but he decided it would be less of a hassle not to wait around for it either way.
"Right. So, I gotta go," He said as he sprung up. "See ya!" He jogged off set, pretending not hear her when she called after him. He went toward the break room first, hoping to find something sweet to snack on. It was pretty late and a lot of the extras had cleared out, so he thought it should be safe.
He was wrong about that.
He found most of the "pro heroes" hanging out there. He heard Present Mic and All Might before he'd even rounded the corner, but their voices could be so loud that it was often hard to tell where it was coming from. They were almost speaking at a normal volume this time, which Izuku didn't think was possible, but it gave him hope for the future. The most alarming thing in the room was seeing Takeyama cornering Ectoplasm, dressed in her costume despite not even being needed on set today. Izuku wished that he could say that he couldn't believe what he was seeing, but he could. He absolutely could. It was the Kamui Woods situation all over again.
"So what do you look like underneath all that make up?" She purred.
Izuku pumped the breaks, sharp turned, and hit the acceleration in one smooth motion as he walked very quickly in the opposite directly. He remembered that he still had that take out that Mei and Katsuki had gotten him, and that would have to be enough. He was not watching his- Katsuki's, he metally corrected himself- cousin flirting.
"Why do you always ruin everything?" Izuku mumbled to himself. He was pretty sure he'd seen a box of donuts on the table too. Takeyama was the worst. The absolutely worst.
It was a few minutes later that his mom popped her head into his dressing room to see him sullenly poking at his takeout container. "Izuku, are you ready to go?" She paused as she took in the scene before her and asked, "Izu... are you pouting?"