AN: Sorry for the long wait, finals had me busy then I was on vacation and I lost track of time. Better late than never I guess…

Chapter 18

CQC

oooOo Izuku oOooo

Kirishima, after a brief moment of consideration, had decided to take a far more practical route to the stadium floor than Kacchan had, a decision Izuku could support wholeheartedly, despite the few extra minutes it might take him. While Kirishima was probably capable of surviving a fall from this height, the damage that would be caused by his landing was far too impractical to even consider.

The boy left through their section's exit, and a for a moment, their class all fell into their own smaller conversations between the closer knit groups. At least until Izuku felt a soft tap on his shoulder.

"Hey, hey, Midoriya!"

He turned, seeing nothing at eye level, but picking out the floating cheer uniform a few inches to the left. He made the connection in a fraction of a second.

"Hey, Tooru, what's up?"

He always found it a bit difficult to keep 'eye contact' with his invisible classmate, often finding his gaze subconciously drawn to the clothes or accessories she often wore. Normally, it was an involuntary action, having no connection to any sort of attraction, but there was something oddly titillating about the contours of her body being hugged by the more revealing orange uniform. Speaking of those uniforms…

"Hey, I've been meaning to ask, but what's up with the cheer uniforms?" He turned to Uraraka, remembering that she had been wearing an identical uniform. "Not that they don't suit you guys or anything, but… y'know…"

"Ah…heheh…" the brunette trailed off uncertainly, a hesitant grin pulling at her lips.

A glance at the rest of his classmates revealed most of the girls glaring daggers at two particular individuals, though Tooru's body language held none of the aggression of the rest of her female classmates. With the way Kaminari and Mineta shrunk away from the stares, Izuku felt he could hazard a fairly accurate guess at what had gone down.

"So…I guess you two are into that sorta thing, huh? Were uh… all of you wearing them?" he hedged.

Uraraka's grin turned downright devious, and Izuku was already regretting voicing the question.

"Why's that Izuku-kun?" She asked, far too innocently. "Were you perhaps wanting to see it on someone in particular?"

"What a shame you missed it, Midorin!" Mina sang, taking an unprecedented amount of pleasure in his flushed face. "Who knew Katsumi-chan was such a cutie underneath all those scary glares!"

Well… he'd known that for a while now… Izuku squirmed, torn between a slight embarrassment, and genuine regret that he'd missed Kacchan dressed as a cheerleader.

"Aww, I can't take it anymore, you guys! He looks so sad!" Jiro said, before they all broke out into giggles.

"We're just joking," Uraraka managed through her giggles. "Katsumi-chan wouldn't go near this thing with a ten-foot pole!" She added, pinching and stretching the pleated skirt out slightly. "Though Yaomomo did make one in her size… it's still in my locker if you want it for later—"

"Alright! I get it!" Izuku laughed, his face heating up more than it had in quite a while. His quirk wobbled in place overhead; his control shaken with the spike of emotion. "But that's not up to me!"

"Ever the gentleman," Tooru sighed dramatically, her uniform shifting as she turned back to the arena below. "But we've gotten off track…how do you really think this match'll go? We won't tell Katsumi-chan, promise."

She tacked that last bit on at the end, and Izuku got the impression that her eyes were darting around nervously, as if Kacchan could hear them from several stories down.

Izuku of course felt the initial urge to proclaim his utmost faith in Kacchan's abilities, but for proper analysis, one had to tack a step back, observing with an unbiased perspective.

"Kirishima's abilities are actually way stronger than they appear at first glance," he said, thinking out loud.

The red-headed teen in question appeared at the north entrance to the arena, acknowledging the cheers of the crowd with a jaunty wave, before he confidently made his way onto the stage to stand opposite Katsumi. Izuku chuckled as Katsumi bared her teeth, palms crackling wildly, the expression mirrored across nearly every screen in the arena.

"Earth to Midoriya! Don't leave us hanging!" Mina's cheery voice cut through his musings. His classmates in the row behind him seemed to be waiting for his answer as well…

"Sorry, sorry," he said, recollecting his thoughts. "Kirishima's quirk's simplicity is also its greatest strength. It lets him harden his body at will, and while I'm sure he could choose to only harden his skin, I've seen the guy jump off of multi-story buildings and walk away unscathed, meaning there's more going on than you'd think at first glance… Anyone following me here?"

Izuku cracked a smile as Iida actually raised his hand sharply before answering. "His entire body must be hardening, otherwise his internal organs would still be affected by such a fall!"

"Right in one," Izuku said, pointing excitedly at the boy. "And we're not in class, Iida, you don't have to raise your hand…"

"Ah… yes, I see what you mean!" His taller classmate said, frowning and nodding way to seriously for the situation.

Izuku simply smiled, shaking his head disbelievingly. While his friends earnest nature could be a bit much at times, a part of him hoped he never lost that serious, if naïve outlook on life. He turned back to Tooru's floating uniform. "As they say, it's not falling that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the bottom. Kirishima's entire frame, down to his heart, lungs and even brain must harden to that same strength! Otherwise, the stunts he pulls would leave him with a concussion at best… How his organs retain their normal function is anyone's guess, but it's not like such a thing is all that uncommon. The girl I fought earlier—Setsuna—her abilities pose a similar question… One that I'm no closer to answering than any of you are." He returned his gaze to his attentive classmates. "Aren't quirks downright fascinating!?"

"You're a freak of nature when it comes to that stuff, Midoriya…" Jiro commented in her apathetic drawl. "But what does that mean for the match… Doesn't that mean Bakugo could actually lose this one?"

Izuku grinned, imagining Kacchan's reaction if she'd been around to hear the girl say that. "It's true that as far as quirks go, it is a particularly poor matchup for her. But if you think that all she's got going for her is her quirk, then you're sorely mistaken…" He turned back to the arena, frowning thoughtfully. "Besides, it's not like Kirishima hardens his entire body while fighting normally, I don't think he'd be able to move if he did…."

oooOo Katsumi oOooo

Katsumi's heart pounded in her chest as the heady sensation of adrenaline pumped through her system, sharpening her already finely-tuned senses.

A jagged, rock-hard fist whizzed past her face, a minute tilt of her neck letting her avoid the blow completely. the wind from the swing ruffled her hair but otherwise left her completely unharmed.

The crowd roared at the close call, but such an inconsequential distraction was far from her mind at the moment.

Another punch followed, a right straight, backed by the formidable weight of Kirishima's hardening. She stepped into his guard, taking full advantage of his fairly straightforward combat style, and delivered three lightening-fast strikes in retaliation. Twice with her elbow to his exposed ribs and an explosive palm to the solar plexus, before dancing out of the way again.

The redhead barely flinched from the attack, but Katsumi hadn't expected him to. She was just testing the waters, probing to see if there were any obvious chinks in the boy's armour.

He was sturdy, to say the least, and approached the fight with remarkably similar tactics to the B-lister that had fought a few matches previously. But after sparring with someone as absurdly quick as Deku for her whole life, Shitty Hair seemed positively sluggish in comparison.

Katsumi stepped swiftly to the left as the boy came barreling after her, dodging his attempt to grapple and swinging an explosion-boosted knee directly into his lowered head. The traditional muy tai maneuver would have shattered the nose of a normal human, but all she'd earned from her opponent was a light grunt and a bruised knee. Though the noise was probably more out of shock than any sort of pain.

Kirishima dragged a fist across his face, before shooting her a toothy smirk. "You're gonna have to do better than that, Bakugo-chan! That one barely tickled!"

Katsumi's eyes narrowed at the brash attitude of her classmate. Shitty hair really had an annoying quirk when it came to direct combat, but to think that he'd grown so cocky just from the short opening skirmish of their fight. Oh well… he'd pay for his arrogance in due time…

Katsumi continued her elusive hit and run strategy, parrying and counterattacking whenever the opportunity presented itself. The redhead was stubborn as hell, but constantly hardening his body like that had to be taking its toll on the boy's stamina, and despite the physical adaptations of his body to handle the added mass of his quirk, swinging around that much added weight would leave him winded eventually. She just had to wait for the moment his exhaustion exerted itself.

There!

Kirishima's attack came with a bit of a delay, a wild haymaker that might have taken her head off had she not once again ducked into his range at the last second. Katsumi leaped into the swing, boosting her velocity with an explosion from the bottoms of her feet, before latching her arms around the pit of his leading arm and neck, ignoring the way his sharpened skin dug painfully into her collarbone.

In a single fluid movement, Katsumi swung the boy's offbalance frame with a classic hip toss, using his superior mass against him. He slammed into the concrete surface of the arena, spidery cracks branching away from the point of impact.

Katsumi grinned inwardly as the boy visibly winced at the collision. It was just as she'd suspected, without the giving the redhead time to prepare himself, the sturdy cement surface was enough to damage even his hardened frame.

But Katsumi wasn't finished.

Despite the shock of being thrown so bodily, Kirishima had retained enough of his senses to break free of her steely hold. He realized the futility of the attempt reasonably quickly, instead regaining his feet and hefting her in his arms, clearly preparing to slam her to the floor to break her hold.

In the back of her mind, she acknowledged Kirishima's willingness to go all out against her. She'd half expected the moron to spout some nonsense of about manliness as some shitty excuse not to hurt a girl.

The maneuver he was attempting was indeed his best bet at freeing her grip, but unfortunately for him, it was exactly what she was waiting for.

At this point Katsumi was relying entirely on muscle memory, abusing the upward momentum of the redhead's motion to twirl acrobatically around his frame, latching her legs around his neck in a classic triangle choke. Her palms sparked as a preface to the audio-heavy explosion she detonated in the next moment.

The crack of her explosion cut through the roars of the crowd, and more importantly, sent her opponent's head spinning from the damage to his eardrums. Katsumi didn't relent in her assault. Taking full advantage of Kirishima's disorientated state, she sealed his fate.

A sharp twist of his wrist pulled him off balance, his left arm fully extended and completely under her control. Katsumi twisted with her hips, the reversal of her right and left legs planting him flat on his back. All that was left now was to pull.

The sheer sound of splintering stone filled the air.

oooOo Izuku oOooo

"Well, at least he put up a good fight…" Izuku sighed, getting to his feet and making his way towards the nearby steps.

"What do you mean, Midorin?!" Mina said, pulling anxiously at the roots of her bubblegum pink hair. "The fight's still going!"

"Not for long," he called over his shoulder, his point punctuated by a pained cry, easily recognizable as their redheaded classmate, from down in the arena. Izuku was unable to restrain a grin at Kacchan's finely-honed technique finally put on display. He knew the girl herself would certainly be satisfied with that performance, even if she didn't say it in so many words.

Katsumi had weathered Kirishima's stamina beautifully, and even crippled his most critical senses with an extremely precise application of her quirk. And after that… well, Izuku knew exactly how difficult it was to escape that lock of hers. At that point the match was all but finished…

In fact, if he hurried, he might be able to meet her as she made her way off stage!

He quickly navigated the mazelike interior of the stadium, relying on what he remembered from her earlier trek and working his way backwards until he was close enough to follow the low rumble of the crowd.

He arrived at the wide hallway leading to the arena just as Katsumi stepped off the platform, a single fist raised triumphantly her only acknowledgement of the frenzied cheering.

"What, no words of encouragement for Kirishima, Kacchan?" Izuku grinned as she made her way into the hallway where he stood.

She scowled, her nose scrunching up cutely, though Izuku imagined others might focus more on alarmingly aggressive look in her eyes… "Fuck no, It's not my job to worry about his feelings! There's nothing a winner should have to say to a defeated opponent…"

Izuku sighed, shaking his head fondly. "Well, you certainly made your mark… I'm sure no one'll forget you taking down a guy nearly twice your size in the first round… Though with your showing in the preliminaries I doubt anyone considered you an underdog at this point…"

Katsumi's eyes flared at the mere insinuation that she would ever be associated with such a title, but following an urge that he'd have trouble explaining in words, Izuku suddenly leaned in, silencing the expected protest with a kiss.

The complaint seemed to die in her throat, morphing into a decidedly un-Kacchan-like whimper. It only spurred Izuku to indulge further.

He tugged insistently at her bottom lip with his own, coaxing and encouraging the increasingly fervent responses from the girl in his arms. She gasped sharply, fisting a hand in the material of his jacket before probing teasingly back with her tongue.

It could have been seconds or minutes before they separated, but either way Izuku couldn't find it in him to regret the spontaneous liplock, despite the setting being less than idea…

"What was that all about… nerd…" Katsumi gasped, her face flushed with a healthy pink hue.

Izuku slumped against the wall by her side pulling her a few inches closer with an arm over her shoulder. "I… uh… adrenaline?"

She stuck an elbow into his ribs. "Yeah, that's a great excuse… except I'm the one who was just fighting…"

He tucked her head underneath his chin, wrapping her further in his arms. "Do I really need a reason to want to kiss you?"

"The hell!" She squirmed in his grip, though he could tell it was a token effort. Granted, it was a bit more embarrassing to say out loud than it seemed in his head, but wasn't that the whole point of being together? After a brief moment of consideration, Izuku decided that, yes, that was probably the best part, and it would be a waste to not take advantage of it.

After a moment of relishing in the closeness Izuku remembered something he'd noticed earlier but had dismissed in lieu of subjectively more important matters… "Cmon, Kacchan. Let's see if one of these locker rooms has a first aid kit. Some of those cuts look pretty gnarly."

Her struggles that time were significantly more insistent than earlier. "I'm fucking fine, Nerd. Do I look like some sorta weak-ass girl to you?" She tugged her sleeves down to hide the scarlet lines streaking her forearms.

"I know you could go on without worrying, but I'd worry." Izuku sighed fondly, "Besides, I know how you are about going to the nurse's office, they're not so bad that we can't clean and wrap them ourselves…"

"…Fine," she relented, though not without a pout that only made him want to swing her around like a teddy bear. But he kept himself in check, both for fear of agitating her wounds and to avoid inciting the rage such an action would undoubtedly cause.

oooOo Katsumi oOooo

She did her best to remain still as Izuku wrapped her arms with the dexterity she'd come to expect from her friend… boyfriend…. From her Deku. Yeah…that sounded about right…

The cool material of his left hand and the warmth of his right, handled her own as if it would snap at the slightest application of pressure… What a fucking joke… didn't he know what kind of damage she could do with these things?

But no… his fingers trailed over her own not as if they could ignite at a moment's notice, but with a tentative, careful approach.

How the fuck did she manage to nab this guy for herself…

"Alright, looks like you're all set!" Izuku called suddenly, his voice cutting through her thoughts.

She hadn't been staring had she? Katsumi shook her head as if the motion would clear her embarrassingly lustful thoughts, but all it served to do was send her hair askew, her bangs falling into her eyes. "Shit…" she cursed, running her fingers through the long strands in an effort to fix the problem.

"Here." Izuku said quietly, holding out a small band he'd procured from somewhere in the room while she was freaking out. "It's getting pretty long, huh?" he tacked on when she accepted the tie.

"Yeah, gotta get it cut soon…" She said, biting her lip while trying to navigate the unfamiliar territory of tying her hair out of her face. She'd always kept it cropped pretty short and rarely ever needed something like this before. Katsumi's efforts eventually produced an acceptable imitation of a ponytail, leaving her to glance back in the nerd's direction.

Uh… why was he looking at her like that…

"Oi, Deku!"

"Oh! Sorry! It uh… suits you…" He glanced away, his freckles standing out even more sharply than usual against the increasingly red hue of his face.

Hmph. Maybe she'd hold off on that haircut for a while…

oooOo Izuku oOooo

"So… what do ya' think?"

Izuku's eyes were set firmly on the display hung in the corner of the small locker room, making it quite obvious what he was talking about.

"Round face'll have no problem with that B-lister," Katsumi answered, waving her hand dismissively.

Izuku tilted his head curiously. "Oh? Nice to see you so confident in your friends, Kacchan."

"Pfft, hardly…. Just being realistic… Round face has been sparring with both of us for weeks! if she hasn't learned anything by now, I'll kick her ass myself." She puffed out a gust of air, spinning the leftover roll of medical tape idly between her fingers.

"Nice to know you care!" Izuku laughed, snatching the tape away with a tendril of quicksteel. "You could at least do her the service of watching her match…"

"Fine…"

Uraraka and her opponent were shown entering the stadium from opposite ends, the monitor zooming in on both of their profiles after a moment. The brunette had a firm, unyielding expression adorning her face, though Izuku could detect a slight undercurrent of unease in the girl. She was nervous, but that wasn't really a problem, bit of pre-match jitters could be a good thing.

Her opponent was an unassuming female student that Izuku recognized from their sister class. Present Mic announced her as Yanagi Reiko, his descriptor of: 'hasn't really stood out so far this tournament' pretty much matched Izuku's opinion to a T. Her long, straight hair was a pale blue color, with lidded eyes and an equally pale complexion. She wore the standard red white and blue UA jacket, though it appeared to be several sizes too big, the tips of her fingers just peeking out of her long sleeves.

By modern standards she was fairly unremarkable, but Izuku knew better than most that someone's appearance rarely reflected everything were capable of. They'd just have to wait and see…

The two competitors stood in a tense standoff as Midnight raised her whip in preparation to start the match.

"Begin!"

Neither Uraraka nor her opponent made a move, a fact that had Izuku letting out a sigh of relief.

His classmate had been put in an unfortunate position considering how little they knew of Yanagi-san's quirk. Had the silver-haired girl posessed any longer-ranged abilities, Uraraka might have been royally screwed. But, judging by the girl's inaction despite the start of the match, it appeared that her strengths lied in other areas. What they were was anyone's bet, but Uraraka's win condition hadn't changed…

"There she goes…" Katsumi muttered, eyes glued to the screen despite her earlier uninterest.

Ochako had suddenly charged forward, closing the distance between them, hands twitching at her sides, ready for the moment she could press all five fingers to her opponents body. For a moment, it appeared she would reach her target without any trouble, but as she entered within a few meters of Yanagi, her rush faltered, as if only the top half of her body had halted, her forward momentum throwing her off balance.

"What's this?! Uraraka's determined assault is foiled by some unseen force! What's going on!?"

Izuku ignored Mic's color commentary, idly opening his notebook to a blank page, all the while keeping his eyes directed firmly towards the monitor.

oooOo Ochako oOooo

Uraraka knew from the get go that she'd be at a disadvantage in such a combat oriented competition… Spending so much time around such amazing people like Katsumi-chan or Izuku-kun, of course she knew that it'd probably take a miracle to go toe to toe with some of the beasts in her class. She could take credit for her respectable finish in the first event, but she'd only be deluding herself in thinking that her third place finish in the second was anything more than riding the coattails of Katsumi-chan's downright prodigious skill.

But that didn't mean she wouldn't be doing her utmost to make the best of the opportunity she'd been given. The final tournament was the most heavily publicized of the three events… And publicity meant a better chance at being scouted… Two more chances notwithstanding, her future career was on the line here…

Which made the fact that she was being strangled with her own jacket in front of millions of people even more humiliating!

Uraraka had thought she might get the jump on her opponent when the girl hadn't made any offensive moves from a distance, but as she'd approached, the blue fabric of her unzipped UA uniform had seemingly come to life, peeling away from her back and looping up and over the top of her head.

What the hell was this girl's quirk?!

Ochako vaguely heard Present Mic's over the top commentary, most likely highlighting how comical it must be for a 1-A student to be defeated by their own wardrobe…

She half expected to be blindsided by her opponent at any moment now that she'd been restrained, but was surprised to find that no followup came, though the material of her jacket continued to constrict itself around her neck despite her struggles.

But curiously, perhaps in a stroke of luck, Uraraka happened to catch a glimpse of her opponent through a small gap in the fabric. The girl stood completely still, the single eye that was visible through the part in her hair narrowed in concentration. Her hands were raised just above waist level, her fingers splayed. They were twitching slightly, as if she was a puppeteer manipulating a marionette that only she could see.

The view was gone in the blink of an eye, but had included all the information she needed. Yanagi-san's quirk, what Izuku would probably label 'minor telekinesis' or something, obviously took a lot of concentration to control, and appeared to leave the girl unable to move without losing control of her target. All she had to do was interrupt the girl's concentration a bit…

Relying on muscle memory alone for a task she'd performed thousands of times in her lifetime, Uraraka peeled the heel of her right sneaker off with the toe of her left. With a moment of careful aim and a short prayer for a bit of luck, Ochako flicked her foot out to where she'd last seen her opponent, hoping, praying that the girl hadn't moved in the last few seconds.

It was the relaxing of the tension around her neck more than the yelp of surprise that let her know her aim had been true, but there was no time for celebration.

Uraraka stripped the thoroughly stretched jacket off of her head, flinging it to the side where it floated indefinitely until it reached the roaring crowd—a souvenir for a 'lucky' fan—but that was none of her concern.

Yanagi had brought her hands back into position, clearly preparing to use her quirk on one of her remaining articles of clothing, but Uraraka had no desire to be stripped down to her sports bra on national television, despite Yaomomo pulling off the look quite well. She rushed the silver haired girl once more, closing the distance with even more urgency that before.

The tug she felt at the hem of her pants sent a spike of panic through her frame, but by that point she'd already reached the taller girl. Ochako, snatched at her opponents wrist, twisting it like Katsumi-chan had shown her, all while feeling the familiar tingle of her quirk taking hold.

In a single fluid motion, she pivoted on the balls of her feet—the fabric of her sock scraping against the concrete—and flung Yanagi overhead, towards the closest out of bounds marker.

It was with a uncharacteristically spiteful grin that Ochako watched her opponent tumble end over end as she sailed through the air, the vertigo apparently distracting enough to prevent the girl from using her quirk to correct her trajectory. Only when she'd clearly passed the out of bounds marker—and a few extra seconds for good measure—did Uraraka feel safe in steepling her fingers, releasing her quirk and letting the girl crash to the ground with a pitiful whimper.

"Winner, by ringout, Uraraka Ochako!" Midnight called with a crack of her whip.

It was only then that the brunette allowed herself a shaky sigh, the realization that she actually done it filling her with a sense of both relief, and anticipation for the next round. This was merely the beginning… and considering the way the brackets played out… her greatest supporter up to this point had suddenly become her most fearsome adversary…

oooOo Katsumi oOooo

"—WOWSA! What a comeback from class 1-A's Uraraka Ochako!

"Well, it wasn't the most graceful victory, but it was still impressive!" Izuku smiled at the display as it panned away from a closeup on their classmate's face and back to Present Mic's animated commentary in the announcer's booth.

"Tch—" Katsumi scoffed, rolling her eyes at the nerd. "It was sloppy, though I guess we can't expect so much when we had no fuckin clue what that gloomy chick's quirk was." She glanced over at the page Izuku had filled up during the match, unsurprised at the sheer amount of information he packed between the lines.

He nodded, flipping the notebook shut before tossing it into his quirk for storage. "Agreed, though I guess we could all use the practice… New villains are popping up every day after all!" He paused for a moment before getting to his feet. "I don't have to worry about you going easy on her next round, do I?"

The cocked eyebrow and snarky grin that accompanied the question made her want to both deck him and kiss him at the same time. She somehow avoided doing either. "As if. Who the fuck do you think I am?!"

He grinned back at her. "Yeah, yeah… "

oooOoOoOooo

Katsumi had somehow made it the full distance back to their seats without exploding her boyfriend, though she'd admit that there had been a couple close calls. She strolled down the stone steps of their section, hands splayed casually behind her neck, Deku following close behind her.

The pink one was the first to notice their presence, much to Katsumi's ire. "Hey! Midorin, Bakugo-chan! What kept you guys?" she called cheerfully. "You guys totally missed Uraraka's fight!" Mina added with a pout, her fists animatedly swishing through the air.

"We had something to take care of in the locker rooms, but we caught most of it on one of the monitors down there," Izuku answered from over her shoulder. "It looked a bit rough there for a second, but she pulled through in the end, huh?"

Katsumi recognized the very moment the pink-hued girl had zeroed in on possibly the least important part of Izuku's answer. But it came as no surprise that the girl would latch on to any bit of gossip like a dog with a bone.

"Ohhh?! What would you two need to take care of all alone for so long?" Mina said with narrowed eyes and a sly smile. She moved to sidle up next to Izuku as he took his seat, but Katsumi had anticipated the move, planting herself firmly between the two, settling a smoking palm over the girl's shoulder

"Whatever we feel like doing, Pinky. What's it to ya'?" Katsumi narrowed her eyes at her flirty classmate, daring her to make a move on the nerd.

"Testy, testy…" Mina sang, her enthusiasm only slightly dimmed by the rebuttal.

"That was quite a showing, Bakugo-san, we never got a chance to congratulate you before Uraraka-san's match started" Yaoyarozu cut in from behind her, and Katsumi latched onto the distraction readily.

"I guess you didn't totally suck in your match either, Ponytail… but did you expect anything less from an elite?" Katsumi drawled, kicking her feet up on the railing in front of her.

"I suppose you've never given us any reason to… It was a bit more, ah, brutal, than I expected it to be," Momo answered primly.

Katsumi scowled. "Kirishima knew what he was getting into when he got into the ring with me…"

"Did anyone check if he's alright? Kacchan's usually good about avoiding permanent damage, but there might be some complications considering his quirk…" Izuku chimed in, shooting her a subtle smile. Damn nerd probably caught her using her opponent's actual name…

Lobes answered from several rows back. "Sero went down with Kaminari-kun and Iida on their way to the waiting room, said he was gonna check up on Kirishima with recovery girl." The rocker girl leaned back, her earphone jacks twirling her hair. "Dude's tough, I'm sure he'll be fine. But I gotta' admit, Bakugo, that finish was metal as fuck!"

Katsumi was about to reply with a comment that some may have considered borderline narcissistic, but was never given the chance as Present Mic's voice blared out over the loudspeakers.

"Alright all you party people! Are you ready for the next match!?" he waited for the appropriate applause before continuing. For your first competitor, it's class 1-B's assassin, Shiozaki Ibara!"

The girl with the vine hair, huh? She seemed strong enough, but shouldn't prove too troublesome if she ended up moving on… Katsumi imagined her quirk would prove to be a particularly bad matchup for the girl, not that it really mattered.

"And her competitor, he took first place in the previous event, but let's all be honest, we're all wondering how he convinced Midoriya to team up in the first place! It's—"

Wait a second… with everything that had happened since the second event, she'd almost forgotten whose match was coming up…

"Shinso Hitoshiiii!"

"Oi, Deku…"

"Hmm? What is it?" he answered turning to her with those wide, expressive green eyes of his.

"Not that I think it was the wrong choice or anything… but is there a reason you didn't give anyone a heads up about that purple-haired fucker's quirk?" Katsumi sneered down at the arena where she could see the student in question make his way out to the center.

Izuku made a noise of understanding, rubbing his chin idly in the palm of his hand. "I'd considered it," he said, nodding after a moment. "And depending on how this match goes, I'll definitely be mentioning it to Iida or Kaminari. But 1-B has been very clear from the start that they're directly competing with 1-A. Shinso may be acting as a third party in this situation, but I see no reason to give intel to our opponents…" He shrugged, keeping his eyes firmly on the area below where the vine girl seemed to be arguing with Present Mic about her introduction...

"That being said, I can't help but feel a bit guilty about this match. From what little I know about his quirk, there's not much that can be done once you've been caught. I have a bad feeling it won't end well for Shiozaki-san…

"Begin!"

oooOo Izuku oOooo

He'd almost wished he was wrong, but his prediction couldn't have been more spot on.

As soon as the match commenced, Shinso bowed politely towards his opponent. The nearest monitor clearly showed his lips moving, though Izuku couldn't quite make out what was being said.

Shiozaki mirrored the action, offering a few words of her own, but before the phrase was completed, she froze, her hands going limp by her sides as the light seemed to leave her eyes.

Was that how he had looked when Shinso had ensnared him before the second event? It was eerie to be sure, as if every characteristic besides physical appearance was stripped from the target with naught but a few words.

Izuku could feel Kacchan seething by his side, so he placed a gentle palm over her own to calm her. It worked to a degree, but did nothing to wipe the scowl off her face.

Katsumi growled under her breath. "What do you think of my chances to convince engines or sparky to throw their match?" A familiar predatory look entered her eyes… "I'll fuckin' kill him!"

"Easy, Kacchan. Shinso-san's strategy won't work again now that everyone's seen it out in the open…"

"Wait, wait! I don't get it, you two!" Pinky called, her head snapping between he and the match below. "What the heck is going on!?"

By this point Shiozaki was making her way towards the edge of the arena, Shinso watching her with an apathetic look adorning his face.

The crowd understandably took a few more seconds than he and Kacchan to clue into what was going on, but once they did, the murmurs began, growing slowly into a cacophony the closer Shiozaki got to crossing the line. The girl's vine-like hair hung limply, dashing any hopes her classmates may have had at her quirk coming to her aide.

There was no Deus ex Machina turnaround, no last-minute, game-changing revelation. Just a quiet, uneventful ringout, though clearly not one of her own volition.

"And Shiozaki is… out of bounds? What the heck is going on?!"

The crowd's roars echoed Mic's sentiment, caught between cheering on the winner of the round, and trying to figure out exactly how the result had occurred.

Shinso merely stood at the center of it all, his eyes moving from his defeated opponent to the surrounding crowd. His expression was one of slight confusion, as if he'd never expected the applause in the first place.

A poke at Izuku's side brought him out of his observations. "Hey, hey! What the heck was that? You guys don't seem surprised at all! Though Katsumi-chan seems like she's ready to murder someone!"

"You wanna test that, Pinky?!"

Izuku laughed lightly resting a hand on Katsumi's shoulder, his fingers playing with the edge of her collarbone. "We kinda knew about Shinso's quirk ahead of time," he said to Mina. "He used it earlier to force me to team up with him in the cavalry battle, though I can't say for sure what exactly is the trigger, but it's clearly audio-based. You've seen for yourself that it's some form of mind control… An incredibly powerful version from the looks of it…"

"W-what… Mind control?! That's totally spooky, dude! Are you ok, Midorin?!"

He nodded, waving off her concern. "There doesn't seem to be any adverse effects, but I was only under for less than ten minutes. Who knows if a longer duration could pose a problem for the target… or possibly Shinso himself," he amended, shrugging.

"Well, folks! Disregarding that… less than eventful matchup, it's time for the final match of the first round! It's the second clash between students of class 1-A of the day! Give it up for Iida Tenya of the hero course! Versus… Sparky Killing Boy, Kaminari Denki!"

No time to rest, huh? Izuku snapped his notebook shut, having added a few extra details concerning Shinso's quirk, mostly having to do with the prerequisites behind it's activation. Unfortunately, anything he'd written so far was speculation at best. His quirk by nature was difficult to nail down by observation alone. Hopefully the tournament didn't leave enough of a grudge between them that he couldn't quiz him about the intricacies afterwards.

That being said, Izuku doubted this matchup between his classmates would show anything new concerning their quirks that he hadn't already recorded in his time since starting UA.

That wasn't to say that he knew how the match would go. In fact, concerning the matches between the students he knew personally, this was probably the hardest to judge. As far as overall combat ability, Iida had Kaminari beat in nearly every aspect. But the arena itself may end up being the deciding factor…

Iida was quick, that was an undeniable fact, but his speed took a bit to ramp up, and in such a spacious environment with no where to take cover, Kaminari's powerful area of effect attacks would probably prove devastating…

He could theorize until the sun went down, but the only way to find out for sure was to see for himself.

"Begin!"

Bright yellow sparks began to arc around Kaminari's forearms as he prepped what Izuku expected to be the highest voltage, non-lethal blast that he could muster. Sure, it would leave him vulnerable directly afterwards, but what did it matter if it was guaranteed to disable his opponent. As reckless as it was, Izuku couldn't exactly disagree with the strategy.

But then the arena was filled with the rumbling of what felt like a jet engine.

Echoing, low-decible reverbarations followed by an ear-tingling high-pitched keening was all that registered to Izuku's senses.

His eyes snapped to the source as Iida seemed to flicker across the arena floor. Izuku's fine-tuned senses just barely caught the movement due to his experience tracking such speedy opponents, but judging from the confused murmurs of his classmates as well as the surrounding crowd, the same could not be said for everyone.

"Looks like engines has been busy," Katsumi muttered under her breath as the boy in question streaked across the arena, impacting the charging Kaminari in a fraction of a second.

The blast seemed to discharge right before Iida's kick connected, but the jolt of electricity wasn't enough to stop the boy's momentum. Izuku was sure that his classmate would feel it in the morning though…

The match was over in an instant. Iida left standing triumphant in the center of the arena while Kaminari was laid out flat on his back, both unconscious and out of bounds, leaving no room to dispute the results of the match.

"The winner is Iida Tenya!" Midnight called redundantly, though the spectators didn't seem to care as they roared in approval, whipped into a frenzy by yet another flashy victory by the normally less entertaining first-year competitors.

"There you have it, all you party people! That concludes the first round of our tournament! We'll be taking a brief intermission before the second round starts! Grab your snacks and buckle in for a wild ride, you won't wanna miss this one!"

Izuku whipped out his notebook once more, grinning slightly at how quickly he'd been proven wrong. It appeared that Iida had unlocked another aspect of his quirk, which, while not unheard of with heteromorphic types, wasn't exactly common, and from what he knew, wasn't something that Ingenium had ever shown. Though Izuku was sure there were some secrets kept within the family when it came to hereditary quirk lines like the Iidas.

"A little bit scared now that we know Iida's got some new wheels, Kacchan?" Izuku said offhandly as he finished the last of his notes, unable to resist a little shot at the girl's competitive spirit.

"Fuck off, Nerd. As if that would make a difference!"

"Yeah, sure, if you say so..."