Note: This was posted on my AO3 account for IzuOcha week. I wasn't feeling well at the time and forgot to post a number of fics on this account.
White loaves of snow muffled sounds, turning the stumping of boots into crunches. Naked trees balanced patched of built-up snow on thin black branches. Glittery ice carpeted the curved roofs of temples located just by apple-red river bridges. Clusters of frozen rowan berries hang from tree fingers with hats of snow. Bullfinches puffed their plumages, looking more like fuzzy peaches with tiny feet. One bird hopped off a branch and heavy chunks of snow slipped off, landing atop Izuku's green beanie and exploding, sprinkling cold bits over his nose.
He gasped in surprise, his gloved hand coming up to swipe away the ice grains off his already chilly face.
Ochaco giggled beside him. Puffs of tiny clouds formed in front of her lips and evaporated just as quickly. She flicked the remaining snow off his head with her gloved hand.
If his face hadn't been already burned pink by the cold, he would've been blushing because of how close she was. She had snowflakes stuck to the top of her lashes. He wondered how that didn't bother her.
The cancelation of school for the winter offered the children time to be children. It didn't snow much in big cities, so the more high-quality winter experience was usually just outside, and holiday resorts took advantage of those open areas where people wanted to escape the tight city and enjoy the freedom of space and adrenalin.
It also meant a twenty-minute bus ride uphill followed by an hour-and-thirty-minute long train trip. Many students, like Tenya, wanted to spend the cold days with their families; some visited their sick relatives; and others had plans with their buddies elsewhere. Everyone had scattered.
Everyone but him and Ochaco.
He had enough time to visit his mom, but had no other friends outside of the ones from UA. Ochaco didn't get to see her parents due to their work backlog and their transportation trucks getting dallied back home. A flying poster detached from a magazine flashed the same light bulb in their heads: a Winter Resort getaway. Tickets were available via the vacation website. It wasn't exactly cheap, but his mother was happy to book them two tickets, insisting the two of them go have fun and reminding him to send her feedback on their journey.
Being slightly taller than his female friend, he helped tuck their bags over the seats before the bullet train could start its winter run. She took the side by the window because he knew she had a habit of looking out the window during their school trip bus rides. She did that for half the ride, occasionally asking him a few things.
"You're going with Miruko?" she asked, surprised. "Oh, she does all those cool kicks!"
As the world fluttered by the window in a blur, he propped the thinnest book he decided to bring along on his knees. "Yeah, I thought of asking her. If I'm going to focus on my legs, she'd know a few tips."
"I bet everyone will call you the jackrabbit Hero after," she joked.
"You bounce more. Come to think of it, can they have two rabbit themed Heroes?" she wondered out loud, putting a finger to her lower lip as she thought.
He chuckled, still confused. "Why rabbit?" He might as well go along with her thoughts.
"Cause your costume looks like a rabbit." She lifted to hands over her head, mimicking long ears. "It's like you have bunny ears. I think they're super cute."
Even though it was warmer in the train, he hoped she'd think his blush was from the cold. The 'ears' had originally been designed to resemble All Might's hair strands. After his second costume upgrade, they became thicker, shorter, less like hair strands and more like the ears of an animal. He also never realized how his mouth guard gave him the appearance of a short muzzle. Combine that with his excessive jumping and crouching, he could see how she mistook his design being based on a rabbi or a hare.
"You've never tried snowboarding?" he asked her as they made their way past doors to reach the hostel's elevator, their borrowed slippers clapping. They found the sign: FAMILY DORMS – for visitors with children and anyone under eighteen years old. Their lockers were a number apart. He inserted the card into a slot and the lock beeped, blinking green. They both stuffed their bags away before heading for their assigned room.
"No," she said, disappointed. "I never got to. I've tried one of those sleds for kids when I was little but I don't think that's the same."
"I can teach you, if you want," he offered, going past the rows of bunk beds.
"Really?" she perked up.
"I'm not good. Just fell down until I didn't," he admitted. "I don't know how well I could teach," he reminded her.
"Oh, you'll do fine, silly. I trust you."
"I'll try my best to teach you, then." He pretended that didn't go straight to his heart, focusing more on the numbers on the beds. "Do you want the top or bottom?" He didn't mind either one, though he knew he'd keep thinking she was just a mattress away.
"Ummm… top, maybe?"
Her being on the upper bed was the better choice, considering she could simply float herself up. After going downstairs and having some dumplings from an attached restaurant, they explored the snowy world outside, the trail sunken by shoeprints and thin tire tracks. It was much colder here. The snow was deeper, their boots sinking with a crunch.
"I think I see one," Ochaco said with a hand acting as an umbrella over her eyes so she could see. Signs were covered up with thin sheets of ice and people in thick coats would occasionally come out with hand-held wipers to scrape off the white flakes before doing the same to the viewing windows. Someone simply slapped a fabric banner to bounce the ice off.
Through the new clean window, mannequins lined up one after the other, dressed in tough winter vests. The background and foreground had a few sports gears on display, including skating shoes, snowboards, long bags and skis propped up in an X shape.
There were multiple shops with the same theme. When the doors opened, it was clear most people huddled inside for warmth.
"Want to check this one out?" he asked, pointing at the one in front of them with the same discount banner hang up from every surface.
She gave an enthusiastic node, the pompoms hanging from the sides of her winter hat swinging with the motion. She suddenly grabbed him by the arm to get him to hurry up. They couldn't go too fast, thanks to the snow.
She sighed with relief when they walked into warmer air trapped inside the store. They ended up getting accessories and equipment matching the colors of their clothes: her in pink, and him in camo, black or shades of green.
The short bus ride uphill was mostly quiet. It stopped at a building with the view of a foggy mountain behind it. The logo on the building was the one from the poster they'd seen: a blue weasel with a pink winter hat and scarf. The curved lifts and gondolas were visible from where they stood. People on top of the white hill looked like ants. Kids used ling sleds to ride down the hill, hugging each other.
The snow was much, much deeper here.
He didn't know how Ochaco wasn't showing any sign of a struggle against their sinking boots.
"Where should we start?" she asked, hauling her snowboard bag. "I see a fenced-off part over there." She pointed up at a square patch surrounded by red safety nets. It was mostly filled with kids figuring out how skis moved, much laxer in comparison to the professional area where people zigzagged their way down, spraying snow with every turn.
"That looks like a good spot to learn," Izuku said. "I haven't done this in a long time. I think I need to relearn, too." He chuckled meekly.
"Am I doing it right?"
"Y – Yeah. Yeah – you're doing great."
He was either a better teacher than he thought he was, or Ochaco was a fast learner; probably the latter, considering he had trouble focusing when she kept holding onto his arms. She had one foot strapped to the board and the other free to safely get the feel of how the board slid. He'd offered his arm to her for support and didn't think ahead when she did take his arm.
She was touching him. She was touching him and he was having an existential crisis over it.
Okay. Be cool. Or at least not weird. Don't let her notice you're focusing way too much on her hand.
"Am I doing it wrong?" she asked with a confused tilt of her head.
Crap. She noticed.
"No, no – you're good – you're doing good!" Just teach. Don't think about it, just teach. "Okay, can you slide with me? To the right. Just a little bit," he encouraged, following her as she inched to the side whilst pushing herself with her unfastened winter boot, her brows furrowing in concentration. They both looked down at their snow-smeared boots.
She yelped when she slid too fast, too far than expected, gripping his jacket for stability. He tightened his hold on her, curving his arm behind her back to hold her in place. "It's okay, I've got you." He gave her a smile. "You can turn your foot to stop."
Kids squealed in the background. Cold wind chilled giggling faces. After breaking bones and experiencing near-death situations, it was nice to just… be like this; carefree, a bit selfish, still half selfless for the other, both absorbing much-needed playtime robbed from them at such an early age. For now, Villains and bad people and crime didn't exist – not when they both surfed zigzags in the snow, holding each other tightly, and toppled when it time to stop. They laughed wholeheartedly with her weight pressing down on his chest, his back printing the snow. Childish giggles. Youthful innocence rose to the surface when it deemed it was safe enough to come up for air.
His laughter slowly died down. She was looking up at him with a wide smile and redder-than-usual cheeks, her chin propped over his chest.
She must've not realized what she was doing to him, because the next thing she said was: "Wanna go again?"
He wasn't sure what his face conveyed. A mix of idiocy and wonder, he guessed. "Yeah… Yeah, okay!"
She did things to his heart – things he was both familiar and unfamiliar with. It only came to her, and he knew little to nothing about it. He'd assumed this was what it felt like to have friends. But then… if being compared to his bond with Tenya and Shoto, Ochaco's stood out. With her, it was a mix of things. He felt it in his throat and belly. The bond almost made him queasy, but he still wanted it. She'd gone from being 'pretty' to 'very pretty' to 'beautiful' to downright admirable. It did things to him. Scary things. Beautiful things. Nice things that kept him up at night.
Things that robbed the sleep from his eyes because his over-active mind thought, and thought, and thought it over.
He heard her shift on the bed above him. He heard the mattress, felt the frame vibrate, heard her tiny exhales when she stretched and hugged her pillow. The lights were all out, but the curtains by the window were lifted slightly to allow for moonlight to light lines on the floor. Tiny black specks fluttered; the shadows of falling snow.
It was hard to sleep with happy adrenaline still bubbling through his system. He was used to hyper activities, so it wasn't clear why it felt different today. He had a hunch, and it had something to do with her.
She made him go crazy. Or maybe he was just vulnerable when around her.
It was a good kind of pain, and that was bad. Very bad. He didn't need his insides twisting whenever he heard her giggle like that. It hurt, knowing how happy she made him feel when she was somewhere he couldn't reach. He couldn't give back the same amount of joy she brought him. He was blessed to have her as his best friend. He shouldn't be selfishly asking for more. Had she felt his heart drumming his chest this morning?
The mattress above him shifted again. This time, he saw her feet find the steps of the ladder. Was she climbing down? It was cold. He couldn't imagine what made her abandon the warmth of the bed.
In thick long sleeves, she shuffled quietly to sit on the floor by the window, crossing her arms over the frame. Curious, Izuku weighed his options: either go and check to see if anything was bothering her and possibly disturb her train of thought, or pretend to be asleep and possibly end up making her feel lonely. He was familiar with loneliness. He still feared it sometimes. He still teared up whenever his friends beckoned him to lean on them. It was an overwhelming feeling. He was a bottle of emotions that leaked often.
Sitting up, he dragged the blanket with him by his shoulders like a cape. She heard the incoming noise and turned, pressing her cheek against her arm.
"Hey," she whispered a greeting, smiling softly.
"Hey." He sat by her, dropping the blanket over her shoulders before sitting down and resting his sleeved elbows on the frame. "Can't sleep?"
She exhaled contently, temporarily fogging the window. "Kinda. Too happy to get to bed, you know?"
He could relate. "Yeah. Same here."
"Aren't you cold?"
"Here," she said, stretching one side of the blanket to hug his shoulder farthest from her. He felt her breath in his ear when she leaned in. Goosebumps rippled over his skin. They shared the blanket. An empty gap separated them from physically touching.
"Th – Thank you," he stammered.
"It's really pretty, isn't it?" she asked, looking out the window, the tiny feathery shadows drawing lines over her face.
"Yeah…" he said, not looking to where she was referring to. "Pretty."
He snapped out of it. "Uh – yeah?"
"Thanks for today." She leaned in so they touched shoulders. The cold between them snugged. "I really had fun. Thanks."
His heart couldn't take it. She was close. Very close. Did she have any idea what she was doing to him? Was this still a friendship thing? It felt like they'd crossed a line. His social inexperience wasn't giving him any answers. Was his mouth open? Why was it open? Why was he being an awkward idiot? Nothing was happening, but he was panicking.
"I – yeah. You were great – it was great. I had a lot of fun. Lots… of…" He felt her head shift and he did the mistake of looking down at her face. His words froze into a solid ball in his throat. He tried swallowing. It didn't help.
She was blushing, her usual pink blush marks now red. She finally looked down and all he saw was the top of her head and her fingers thumbing the hem of her sleeve.
"Deku… I… umm…" She sounded distressed.
It made him shove whatever all… this was aside for the moment. The need to comfort her was overwhelming. "What's wrong?"
He gave her time to think; an opening in case she wanted to back out of the topic she'd almost brought up. Her comfort was what mattered. Human emotions were delicate things, he knew; teenage emotions, even more so. That unstable age that wasn't child anymore but not quite adult yet. The age where they had to pack their childhood behind and prepare to board Adulthood Express.
White framed the outside of the wide window overlooking the bumpy arena used as a playground by visitors of all ages.
She sighed and leaned her head against his shoulder. He kept still.
"Thanks for making today fun, Deku."
He did things to her heart.
He did, without meaning to.
He was too sweet not to like. Considerate. Passionate. Pure-hearted despite the constant hardships slamming into his sensitive heart. The amount of care he showcased continued to amaze her. He'd held her so securely, so dearly, she'd wanted to hug him so tight and maybe her heart would finally get what it wanted. She'd never been into romance. Not really. Not until she figured out – or Yuga Aoyama had pointed out – just why she was like this; why her stomach knotted up upon hearing the boys tease Deku about his not-so-comfortable moment behind a boulder with a naked girl at the exam; why it bothered her so much; why she'd trust him with her life; why he never left her mind.
It scared her. This sudden, bubbly package of emotions was delivered to her so suddenly it exploded with a simple touch.
He was so much. She was hardly off the ground.
She hadn't thought of romance, until romance crashed into her. Now, the couple eating ice cream and the sappy rom-coms suddenly became subjects of interest. Would she miss out on all… this, if she continued down the path she set herself on? She'd still have the fantasy to live with. She'd still have him as her best friend. That was enough… at least, that had been her plan, for the most part.
Today had to happen, and she was once again reminded of how much she truly loved this boy. She had an up-close and personal view of his bright face, heard his laugh in his chest, and she had melted right into him.
"I… thanks for coming with me today," he said nervously. "You were really amazing. Not that you're not always amazing – because you are – it's just, you remind me every day just how amazing you are and I keep thinking I should try hard, too, and… I… I… You…"
Her curious gaze must've alerted him to how much info he spilled. "I'm what?" she asked innocently, because, she really did want to know.
As if accepting the door he'd walked into, he hid his eyes behind his hands so he wouldn't see the damage he was about to do. "You're-really-pretty-okay-I'msorry-nofilter-I'llstop-now."
Maybe this was a dream. Maybe today was just a special day. Maybe this was just the world's way of saying: There. Here's your chance. Take it or leave it.
Think with her heart – take it
Think with her mind – leave it
She thought with happiness, and breathed a laugh, surprising him into peeking from between his fingers.
She leaned into his shoulder more playfully, her body going ghostly, because this had to be a dream. "Deku." It was a scary kind of happiness. "I kinda like you." Very scary, because she could wake up at any moment. "Like, like you, like you."
She saw their reflection on the window. Transparent snow rained. It took him a full minute and a half, his jaw opening and closing, a squeak squeezed out of his throat.
"Like, like-like kind of like or…?" he managed, not wanting to jump to conclusions.
"Yeah, like-like kinda like…"
She heard him swallow thickly and felt his neck clench. "I… I… I like-like like you, too. I think I'm dreaming. Am I dreaming? I'm dreaming right? This is a dream."
"I don't know either," she admitted, stifling a laugh. It could've been. It very well could've been.
She didn't mind. Dream or not, both were good enough. The rush of bubbly excitement felt very much real. If she hadn't been able to sleep before, she sure as heck wasn't going to sleep now.
She felt him rest his cheek on the top of her head, saw him do so on the reflection that made them look trapped in a snow globe. A perfect little ball of memories, contained in this glass protection, tucked away from the lingering future that clawed the outside.
"Hmm?" He sighed with content, his eyes droopy.
"Can you teach me more, sometime?"
"Yeah. Yeah. Sure."
Just for now, and for as long as they could
In this little globe of snow
-Sorry if it looks weird. I'll beta-read it when I'm feeling better.
-This was written about a year ago but I gave up on it about halfway back then. Wanted it off my desktop so here's an opportunity to make use of it.