DISCLAIMER: I don't own MHA. No surprises there.
A/N: Have had this one in the works for a while now. I tried to focus less on the fact that its a dance fic and more on the fact that it was about her facing her feelings while going to a dance. Hopefully that came across. Glad to finally have it up, please read and review. Enjoy.
"What do you think, Ochako?" Asked Mina holding the dress up to her chest and twirling around. All of the girls of Class 1-A giggled as they oohed and ahhed at Mina's choice. They were at the Kiyashi Ward Shopping Mall dress shopping for the Fall dance. Ochako was sitting on a bench outside the changing room in one of the local stores, staring off into space. A concerned Tsuyu sat to her left as everyone else stood around them.
"Ochako?" Mina asked again after several moments of silence. When she received no response, she glanced around to the rest of the girls. All of them carried dresses to try on. The only one with nothing was Uraraka, which was the most frustrating part. They'd already picked out their clothes. The only one who didn't have a dress was Ochako. The pink girl sighed before practically shouting, "Hey, Earth to Uraraka."
The brunette jumped in surprise. "Hm? What?" A moment passed before her head dropped in sudden realization. "I zoned out again, didn't I?"
"Yup." Croaked Tsuyu with a reassuring pat on the back.
"That's like the hundredth time since we got here." Hagakure said as she threw her arms up in exaggerated frustration.
Jiro nodded. "You've been doing it all week." Ochako grew red with embarrassment
Mina plopped down on the brunette's other side. "As much as I like trying on dresses, Ochako, all of us already have outfits. You," She said, stretching out the word, "are the only one who doesn't."
"If you're worried about the money..." Yaoyorozu reminded her, "I already told you that I'll cover it. The dresses here are nothing compared to the stuff I usually buy."
Uraraka sighed. "No, it's… it's not that." She tucked her hair behind her ears awkwardly, first one side, then the other, then back to the first. "I just… don't think I wanna go." She didn't look up after that, afraid of her friends' reactions.
Silence fell on the group as the rest of the girls shared looks of concern. The U.A. dance had been announced at the beginning of the semester. After all the stress over the summer break, the move into the dorms, and the first year's go at the provisional license exam, the school thought it would be best to offer some way for the students to relax and socialize with other students outside those in their homeroom class. All of 1-A had been excited about it. All of them except Ochako. She seemed… reluctant, nervous about the whole thing.
The girls of 1-A knew just enough about Ochako and her family's economic troubles to guess that buying anything other than sheer necessities was probably not an option for her. They'd figured that was her reason for skipping the dance. It was why Yaoyorozu had offered to buy her a dress in the first place.
It was obvious now that the brunette's reasons had very little to do with her economic situation and since it wasn't a money problem, the girls turned their attention to the only other reason that made any sense.
"Is it because Midoriya's going to be there?" Ochako went red as a tomato, stuttering incoherently as all eyes widened and turned to Tsuyu. Of course, they'd all figured out Uraraka's crush long ago. Heck, they knew it back when they first figured out she was in love and were trying to get her to spill the beans. But they couldn't just tell her they knew, it wouldn't have been appropriate.
Leave it to Tsu to cut straight to the point.
"Wha- wha- Of course not. I mean sure he's cute and- I mean good looking- I mean he's- I-" She trailed off, realizing it was pointless. Deflating, her shoulders sunk and her voice fell to the barest of whispers. "How long have you known?"
"Since, like, forever." Hagakure shouted with an enthusiastic wave of her dress.
"It wasn't exactly hard to figure out," Yaoyorozu said sheepishly. She hadn't felt it proper to invade on someone's personal feelings like that, but since the secret was out…
Ochako's eyes widened in sudden concern. "You don't think-"
Jiro laughed as she cut the shy girl off. "That he knows? Not a chance. Boys are clueless when it comes to love."
"Especially boys like Midoriya." Mina quickly added. A choir of nodding heads all agreed to that.
"But you never answered my question," Tsu said finally. "Is it because Midoriya's gonna be there?"
Uraraka couldn't help but go bright red once again, refusing to make eye contact with any of them.
That was answer enough.
Mina let out a frustrated groan and leaned backward, kicking her feet up and down. "Come on Ochako. You should just tell him how you feel."
Uraraka looked up, horrified. "I can't do that."
"Why not?" Questioned Hagakure.
Ochako opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out. It was a good question. Why not? During the provisional license exam, she'd told herself it was because she had to be a hero. Heroes didn't have time for silly emotions like love. She had to be like him, push those unwanted emotions away. She had to focus, to never give up on her dreams, to go past the things standing in her way, like her feelings for Midoriya.
But why was it so hard, she had asked herself a million times. Why couldn't she do it? Why couldn't she push these feelings away, make them disappear?
Why were her feelings becoming such a problem now? Was this dance making it hard to quiet her crush on the boy hero? A dance shouldn't do that on its own, right? But she couldn't escape it. No matter how hard she tried, she just felt so… so… flustered.
Had it been the way his eyes lit up when the event was announced? Had it been his joy when he called his mom to ask if he could rent a tux? Or had it been how excited he'd seemed when he'd told Uraraka that he couldn't wait to see her that night at the dance when she'd left for the mall?
With all those thoughts bouncing around inside, instead of answering Hagakure's question, Uraraka simply shook her head, her eyes fixed firmly to her feet.
And that was the problem, wasn't it? All of them knew that, in the end, if Ochako didn't want to tell Deku, she didn't have to. It was painful for all of them to see how keeping this secret to herself was affecting the young hero to be.
"Enough of this," Mina shouted, slamming her hands against the bench and jumping to her feet. She turned to Ochako and dragged the other girl up as well. If the Alien Queen was going to fix this, she better get started. Spinning Ochako around she looked her straight in the eye. "You're going to this dance." Uraraka opened her mouth to object, but Mina was having none of it. "Forget about Midoriya. All that matters," she poked Ochako right in the chest, "is you."
"Agreed." Momo concurred.
"Let's do this thing," Shouted Hagakure.
Ochako shook herself from Mina's grip. "What if I don't want to go to the dance?"
Mina laughed. Actually laughed. "You don't have a choice." Ochako just stared at her. When the pink haired teen was done, she turned to the rest of the group. "Ladies?" They rushed her. Seconds later, the brunette was in one of the dressing rooms, a pile of random dresses in her hands.
Ochako stood there, somewhat stunned. She looked around the room. It was what equated as a small grey box with a low lying ceiling, complete with a full-length mirror, a bench, and few hooks to hold clothing. Several seconds passed until what just happened finally sunk in. Ochako turned to the door and pressed against it with her back, trying to push it open. It wouldn't budge.
"Mina," She shouted. "This isn't funny. Let me out."
"Not till you try on at least one of those dresses." Mina, the self-appointed leader of the group, yelled back, a hint of amusement in her voice.
Ochako groaned. She didn't want to go to the stupid dance. Was that so strange? "Guys?" She tried desperately. No response. That left her only hope. "Tsu?"
"This is for your own good, Ochako."
So much for that. The brunette's face went red with frustration. Her friends could be so annoying sometimes. Ochako cared for the girls, even saw them as sisters, in a way. And just like sisters, there were moments she loved them, and moments she wanted to strangle them with your bare hands.
None of that changed the fact that if she wanted out of the dressing room, she'd have to play along with her friend's little scheme. "It's not like I have to go to the dance." She reasoned with her thoughts. She looked down at the blue party gown in her hands. She'd try on a few dresses to appease them, pretend to pick one she liked, and that would be that. She would spend the rest of her night in her room. Do her homework. Maybe watch a movie. Simple. Nothing to it.
That was why she was so confused when, several hours later, she found herself in Hagakure's room as the invisible girl did her makeup.
"Wow, Toru," Mina exclaimed investigating her own face in a small compact mirror. "How are you so good at this?"
Hagakure laughed shyly. "Oh, you know, practice." That caused both Ochako and Mina to share a glance.
Who does she practice on? Ashido mouthed. Ochako shrugged her shoulders half-heartedly.
"Stay still, I'm almost done." Toru snapped. Uraraka complied. Thoughts shot through her mind like water from a spicket, not one after the other, but a single flood of emotional confusion. What was she doing? She hadn't meant to let things go this far. She was supposed to come up with some excuse and spend the night in her dorm, as planned. Not go to Hagakure's room to get her makeup done.
"And… finished." Uraraka's heart stopped as Toru pulled her to her feet and passed her a small hand mirror. She looked at her face and couldn't believe what she saw.
The changes were subtle. A darkening around the eyes, a deeper shade of red on her lips, a faint blush on her cheeks, and a thousand other subtle touches Uraraka couldn't quite pick out directly. They worked together in a way she couldn't really understand. Toru somehow accentuated her natural beauty while hiding all of her blemishes. The girls poured out overlapping compliments and Uraraka had to admit, she felt...pretty.
"Wow." Was all she could say, her voice breathy with amazement. She'd never really owned expensive makeup. It wasn't in the cards for her growing up. Still wasn't. But even if she could afford it now, this was never something she could do herself. It was too… unique, too perfect.
A flash of light and a click of a camera broke the spell and drew her attention. She looked as Mina flipped her phone around and showed Ochako the picture she'd just taken.
Her dress was a deep cherry apple red, a shiny satin. The skirt was poofy and full, falling slightly above her knees. The bodice of the garment was darker and had eight gold buttons completing the simple but elegant design, four on each side of the stomach that accentuated her tiny frame. It was strapless but had cute little puff sleeves that landed just above her elbows. It was perfect and she felt beautiful in it. Ochako couldn't help but smile. She liked it. Actually liked it. It was… odd. She'd never owned a dress like that. The dress had been, well, Yao-momo hadn't let her see the price, but nothing in that shop had been even relatively close to something in her price range. She would have had to shop at a second-hand store and hope for the best if it had been something she could afford. The one she had worn on I-Island had been homemade by her mother, which was special because she made it, but they couldn't even afford materials like the ones this dress was made of, and while her mother was a great seamstress, this was something else entirely. Compared to what she'd had in the past, the entire experience made her feel like a princess from a fairytale.
She looked amazing. Deku will love it, she thought, but her smile faded as she stared at the picture. Her eyes dropped to her dress, to her pretty red flats with little bows. She looked stunning, something she hadn't really felt in a long time, and she loved it, she did. She wanted Deku to love it too. Her eyes closed as she silently passed Mina back her phone.
What was she doing? What was she thinking? That she'd go to the dance all pretty, hang out with Deku, have a great time? And then what?
Tell him how she felt?
There was a reason she'd pushed these feelings down. A reason she decided to forget them. She had to be a hero.
That's what he would do…
"Uraraka?" Mina asked.
He'd never give up. Never let something so stupid get in the way.
"Hey, hey." Toru suddenly panicked. "You're not gonna cry, are you? Because...your make-up!"
She shook her head, not looking up, not trusting herself to speak as she fought away the stinging behind her eyes. She'd made her choice. She'd decided to push away these feelings, to ignore them, to put everything she had into becoming a hero, just like Deku and she had to stick with it. It had been the right choice and she shouldn't let anything as silly and frivolous as a crush or a dance distract her.
So why was it so difficult?
"Hey Toru, Mina. How's it-" The quiet, croaky voice of Tsuyu Asui drew Uraraka from her thoughts. All three girls turned to the doorway to find Asui standing there in the entrance. She was a vision in green, her dress was two-tone with ruffles and lace and bows. It was obvious to Ochako that her friend had received the same treatment from Hagakure that she had. The two girls smiled at each other softly, Tsu's eyes glittering with a rarely seen excitement.
She'd stopped talking when she saw Uraraka. Her head tilted slightly. "Ochako?" She asked, her voice concerned.
Uraraka waved. "Hey." Her panicked thoughts were gone. Tsu's interruption had been enough to shake them from her mind. She swallowed hard and then spun in a circle. "Whatcha think?"
Tsu stayed silent for a minute. Then she jerked her head towards the hall. "Can we talk?"
That… was odd. If Tsuyu had something to say, she usually just said it. It never mattered who was there or what was going on, she always spoke her mind. She was dependable that way. "Um… sure." Ochako said, after a moment's hesitation. She followed Tsu out into the hall and down the stairs into the commons area. She looked around nervously as Tsu led her to the couches.
"Is Deku-" She began to ask, "here?"
"No, no he went with the other guys to help with set up."
Uraraka relaxed letting out a heavy sigh of relief. "So…" She smoothed out her dress nervously. "What did you want to talk about?"
"Why won't you tell Midoriya you like him?"
Uraraka's face lit up in a scarlet blush, visible even beneath her makeup. "Wha- Wha- Wha-" She stuttered several times.
"That's why you've been trying to get out of the dance, right?"
"Yes- I mean, no- I mean- Wait," Tsuyu just watched her patiently as she floundered like a fish out of water. "What was the question?"
"You've been trying to get out of the dance because you don't want to see Midoriya there, right?"
The scarlet on Uraraka's face deepened, but she had at least regained control of her tongue. "Why does it matter?"
Tsuyu didn't even seem to hesitate. "Because, for the past few weeks, you zone out whenever the dance is mentioned. You have been falling behind in your homework. You don't sit with us at lunch anymore. You-"
"Okay, okay. I get the point." Was Tsu right? Was this all because she was worried about talking with Deku at the dance. She let out a deep breath of frustration. "I don't get it. It's just a school dance, right? Just a stupid dance. I've been to them before." She looked up at Tsu's calm, ever reliable eyes. "Why is this one different?"
"Because Midoriya will be there?"
She groaned as she stood and began to pace. "But why does that matter? He's a friend. My best friend, but…" She stopped moving, wrapping her arms around herself as she looked out the window. "But nothing more." Her voice dropped to a pained whisper. "It's stupid. Why can't I just get over this, Tsu?"
"Because you won't tell him."
Ochako growled in annoyance. "It's not that simple."
"Actually, it is."
She opened her mouth to object, but couldn't. Tsu was wrong. She had to be. "I can't tell him."
"Because." She took a deep breath, in and out, summoning up the facts that she'd been telling herself since the licensing exam. "Because we're both trying to be heroes and Deku, he doesn't let anything stop him. He never gives up." She let her arms drop to her side. "That's why I can't either. I have to give it my best. If I wanna succeed, I need to be like Deku, and to do that, I can't let these feelings distract me."
"So what you're saying is, you're taking the logical approach. Focus on your goal, not your feelings."
She nodded her head and forced a smile. She hadn't expected Tsu to agree with her. "Yeah, I guess. Yeah. I'm taking the logical approach, I'm being...rational."
"About something illogical?"
Uraraka's smile faltered as she turned back to her friend. "What do you mean?"
"Love isn't logical. Being a hero isn't logical either."
Ochako's cheeks reddened. "How?" The word came out defensive, but she couldn't help it. Heroics were her life's goal. Her dream. Deku's dream. Even Tsu was in the hero program. How could she call something that all of them, not just Tsu, Ochako, and Deku, but that everyone in their class wanted so badly, illogical?
"It's a dangerous job. You put your life on the line every day, not for your own benefit, but for others."
She… had a point. Heroism was a dangerous business, especially with the rise of Stain wannabes and clamps organizations like the league. Still… "It's good money." Ochako tried to argue.
Tsu just shook her head. "If you can go pro. Most people don't even make it past sidekick. And even if you do, there's a thousand other heroes out there. Unless you truly stand out, you'll be just another one of those faces.
"If someone wants to take the logical route, they would probably be more successful with a desk job in business or accounting or going to school to be a doctor something."
She looked her friend in the eyes. "Fine. Say it's illogical. Why do it? If it's so illogical, why come to U.A. Why try to become a hero?"
"It's the right thing to do," Tsu stated matter of factly. "Because," The frog got up to stand next to Ochako, looking out the window to the pale light of the dusk. "I see these disasters all around the world, and I think, how many more people could have lived if I could help. Because, in here," she placed a finger on her chest above her heart. "I feel it's something I need to do. None of that comes from logic, by the way."
Uraraka's face fell, this time in shame. Her eyes broke away from Tsu's, and suddenly her flats got a lot more interesting, drawing all of her attention towards the floor. She'd never known that about Tsuyu, never asked why "Froppy" wanted to be a hero. In that moment, she felt very, very small.
Tsuyu, as observant as ever, noticed immediately what Uraraka was thinking. "You're no different, Ochako."
"You're wrong," she said, her voice little more than the barest of whispers. "I'm only in it for the money."
Tsuyu brought a gloved finger to her chin in thought, a movement so familiar to Ochako that the brunette didn't even register it. "That's not what I recall you saying." Uraraka opened her mouth to object, but Tsu never gave her the chance. "You said that you want money so your parents could live comfortably. You want to support the people you love and care for. You want to make them happy." She placed her finger on Uraraka's chest this time. "You feel it in here. Just like I do, just like Midoriya."
Uraraka blushed before turning away from the frog girl. "The point is, Ochako, you say you want to be a hero like Midoriya, but the reason he's so great is that he's in tune with his heart. In the Sports Festival, he could have beaten Todoroki, but it would have left the boy to suffer. At the training camp, his injuries, he should have found somewhere safe. Instead, he refused to abandon his friend when Bakugo was in danger. And after, when he failed the first time, he put everything on the line to go after Bakugo again even though it was breaking every rule set for us."
Ochako felt a gloved hand touch her shoulder. "If you really want to be like Midoriya, if you really want to be a hero, then you need to listen to your heart."
"So I should just let my heart take over? Don't listen to my brain?" She argued half-heartedly, trying to find something, anything to latch onto.
Tsu's hand left her shoulder, and Uraraka didn't need to look at her to know she was making the familiar finger to mouth gesture. "Well, I wouldn't say that. When they went to Kamino ward, I would definitely call it stupid, and logic does have its place. The point is, if you want to be happy, if you want to be a hero, you need to listen to your heart. Not that you have to do everything it says. Just, hear it out."
Ochako felt Tsu's large hand grip one of hers. "We should go see how the others are doing. Come on." Uraraka followed, lost in her own thoughts.
Was Tsu right? Of course not. Should she tell Deku about her feelings? Of course she shouldn't.
She pushed these feelings away because it was the only way she could achieve her goal. That's what Deku would do.
Was it really as simple as telling him?
Tsu led her to the rest of the girls, who had gone around the other side of the dorm building to the entrance. They all looked great, wearing dresses that fit their individual styles.
"You guys ready?" Shouted Mina
Hagakure gave a hump jump of excitement. "Let's dance the night away."
It took them five minutes to get to the main building, and another five to get to where the dance was taking place. With every step, Ochako's nerves grew.
What would he think? Would he like how she looked? In frustration she shook her head, trying to shake off those thoughts that had plagued her since they announced the stupid dance. Why was she even worried about it? Why wouldn't it leave her alone?
In her head, she heard her friend Tsu's words arguing with her. Had she been too logical about this? She quickly decided that she hadn't. She'd chosen what was best. She knew that. Tsu couldn't possibly have understood her choice.
Before she could think about it any further, they arrived.
Gym Beta. It was a ballroom, obviously meant for the very purpose of a dance. It was a beautiful building, as big as Gym Gamma and similarly shaped, but with smoother, more appealing edges. It was painted deep tans and dark browns, and replacing the industrial looking windows was a large balcony looking out over the approach to the building. The structure was surrounded by bushes and flowers, the only clear path leading directly to the doors.
Clumps of balloons sat to either side of the open double doors, and the sound of a quick paced song with a heavy beat flowed out like water, mixing seamlessly with the sound of several hundred bodies moving, talking, laughing in time to the music.
Hagakure was positively brimming with excitement. "I didn't even know we had a ballroom at this school."
"Apparently they only use it for the yearly dance and a few special functions," Tsu responded finger to her mouth.
Mina had had enough. "What are we waiting for?" She screamed, and with a squeal grabbed Hagakure by her gloved hand and charged towards the dance. They were followed by Jiro and Yaoyorozu, which left Ochako standing alongside Tsu.
The two stood there, silence between them. After a moment's hesitation, Tsu started forward, but when Ochako didn't follow, she turned back. "You coming?" She asked.
Uraraka's breath was falling short and fast. She was so nervous. Was it the dress, the makeup, that fact that she actually liked how she looked? Was it the chance, no, the surety that she would see Deku in there?
Clenching her eyes closed and her hands into fists, she breathed as deep as she could.
If you really want to be like Midoriya, if you really want to be a hero...
Her eyes flew open as Tsu's words began to play out in her head. She had to stop thinking about that. She wasn't going to tell him. She'd made her choice, and it was final.
Listen to your heart.
She shook her head clear of the thoughts. "I'm ready." She said finally, her hands trembling. Then, walking forward, Tsu at her side, she entered in at the gates of Hell.
There was chaos, chaos everywhere. Over 600 people, all crammed into one space. All moving, interacting, breathing, talking. Living. The sound was so thick here, it was an almost tangible, physical force. It choked out the air, filled every mind, drowned every thought. It felt like a war zone, a battlefield.
"Ochako," Tsu had to yell for Uraraka to even hear her. The brunette turned to face her froggy companion. Tsuyu gestured to one of the many tables surrounding the edge of the room. She nodded and followed. That is until she saw Deku, sitting at the table next to it.
The sound intensified as the beat dropped in the song. There was screaming, or was it cheering from the dance floor. Her heartbeat quickened with the pace of the music. Deku saw her. He smiled and she was pretty sure her heart stopped beating.
Everything just stopped for a single instance. But all too soon, the wall of sound came crashing back into her like a tidal wave. It dragged her, pulling her back into herself. She looked around desperately for an out. There, on the other side of the ballroom. A drink table. She grabbed Tsu's arm before she could go towards Deku.
"Let's get something to drink." She began to pull. Tsu complied, and while Ochako couldn't see her face, she didn't have to sense the disappointment she was sure was on it.
She moved as fast as she could through the ocean of bodies. The air was hot and sticky and thick with noise. Laughter. A scream to her left. Someone cheering to her right. It felt as if it was all pressing down on her, trying to suffocate her, drown her in flesh and noise and then they were through it. They came out on the other side.
The drink table was long with a white tablecloth going all the way to the ground. On it sat half a dozen crystal punch bowls, three filled with water, the others filled with what she assumed was red punch. The rest of the table was covered in pre-filled plastic cups.
"Ochako?" Tsu said.
She ignored her as she reached one shaky hand towards the cups filled with water, grabbing one and draining it in seconds. She had to get a hold of herself. She'd gone to dances before. It had never been this way. She just had to breathe. Had to breathe. Had to-
"Ochako," Tsu yelled. The brunette jerked around and felt Tsu's large hands grab her shoulders. She could have sworn, in that moment the air got thinner, more breathable, and a bit cooler. The sound wasn't quieter per se, but certainly less oppressive.
Her thoughts narrowed. Charging into the dance as she did had been like plunging into a freezing cold lake. A shock at first, but she could adapt. She had to adapt.
Her breathing slowed. Tsu looked her in the eyes. "You okay?" She nodded. "Do we need to leave?"
"No." She shouted back. "I'm good now." It was a complete lie. She certainly wasn't fine, but she wasn't gonna leave. How could she ever call herself a hero if she was defeated by a school dance?
Tsu held her gaze for a moment before nodding and letting go. The second she did, the atmosphere pressed in on her again. She fought back. She knew, given any other place, any other time, the chaotic order of the dance could be just as much invigorating as it was oppressive.
With her mind a little clearer, she looked around the ballroom, taking in the sights. Around the edge of the space were set large round tables covered by white tablecloths and surrounded by metal folding chairs. At each of the four corners was a drink table, similar to the one she stood at, and a couple more long tables covered with different kinds of finger foods and snacks. What Ochako would describe as an excessive number of speakers were interspersed evenly around the border of the room. Present Mic's DJ booth sat directly in the middle of the space.
At the far end of the building was not another exit, but a staircase leading up to a second level, a gallery that spanned the entire perimeter of the ballroom. Small groups of students of many varieties stood all around the gallery, either chatting where it was somewhat quieter or watching the other students dance below them.
"Wanna get some food?" Tsu shouted.
"You can if you want," Ochako replied. Her eyes kept scanning the space in front of them. "I'm not hungry."
Tsu eyed her cautiously. "Be right back." She yelled after several moments.
Ochako responded with an equally loud "I'll wait here," before leaning awkwardly against the table behind her.
As she stood there she couldn't stop her mind from going back to when they'd first arrived, when she saw Deku. She went bright red at the thought. He'd smiled at her. In that moment, it felt like the whole world just… stopped. And what did she do? She'd run away. Closing her eyes tightly, she slapped her own cheeks in frustration. Why couldn't she get him out of her head?
Aoyama's words from final exam suddenly flashed through her thoughts.
Do you love him?
Her panicked thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the voice of Present Mic.
"Alright, alright, alright. We've been keeping it pretty fast paced with your lovely suggestions, but it's time to grab a special somebody because we are gonna to Slow-"
Uraraka's breath caught in her throat.
No, she thought, No no no.
Her world came to a screeching halt as the speakers began to play the first steps to a slow song she didn't recognize. Crowds began fleeing the dance floor as people without a partner or who were too afraid to ask someone to dance headed toward the closest place to hide. The refreshment tables.
It dawned on her that she was standing right in front of their target. The drinks table.
The oncoming crowd may have frightened Ochako if a humongously worse problem wasn't headed straight for her. Deku was making his way through the thickening crowds. She panicked. What was she gonna do? Where was she gonna hide? She couldn't face him. Not now, not when she was so confused. So she did the only thing that made sense.
She hid under the drinks table.
Without the heavy base and fast pace of the earlier songs, it was easier to hear voices. About a minute passed as she sat there, curled up, listening as those who weren't dancing got drinks and talked. She just had to wait for Tsu to come back. She'd know what to do. That is, is if she could even find Uraraka. Her head dropped and she had to fight not to let out a groan of frustration. This was just not her night.
"Where is she?" Came a very familiar female voice, pulling Ochako from her thoughts. "I swear I just saw her over here."
The brunette's eyes narrowed. If that was who she thought it was-
"Thanks for pointing her out, Ashido, but really, I don't think she wants to talk to me."
Uraraka's mouth fell open. Mina was leading Deku straight to her. That's it, she thought, Mina Ashido was going to die.… later, she had more pressing problems at the moment.
"Nonsense. She told me herself." Ochako's eyes narrowed further, her cheeks blushed, her mind raced, how could her friend do this to her? Yep. Mina was definitely dead. "You wait here, and I'll…" by the pause it seemed like she was trying to spot where Ochako had gone. "The Bathroom. I'll check there, and be right back."
No response. The pink girl must've dashed.
Which meant Deku was just on the other side of the tablecloth. Right there. If she reached out her hand, she'd probably be able to touch him.
Listen to your heart.
She wanted to scream in frustration. She had been listening to her heart, hadn't she? In her heart, she wanted to be a hero. That meant giving up personal desires. That meant giving up Deku.
Could she have been wrong this entire time?
She was right.
Her hands began to shake.
"Midoriya?" She heard a croaky voice yell. She froze. It was Tsuyu.
"Oh hey, Tsu."
He laughed nervously, and Ochako's heart skipped a beat. She loved that laugh. "Ashido said that Uraraka wanted to talk with me. I think she went to the restrooms to look for her."
"Ribbit. Last I saw her, she was heading up to the back balcony."
"Cool. I'll check there then. Thanks, Tsu." And with that, she heard him leave. The slow dance came to an end, her heart slowed down, and she took a much-needed breath.
Seconds passed. Suddenly, the white cloth in front of her lifted up and Tsu's head appeared. "He's gone." She said simply, reaching her hand out. Ochako took it and Tsu helped her out from under the table.
"Thanks," Ochako shouted, throwing her arms around her friend.
"Ribbit. We should move before Mina comes back."
She had a point. Ochako followed the frog girls lead. She was tired. No, not tired. She was weary. Had keeping her feelings secret really been that big of a burden? At this point, she wasn't so sure anymore.
Ochako and Tsuyu spent the next hour navigating the first floor of the ballroom, avoiding their classmates like a game. It was actually kind of fun, Ochako thought. Focusing on playing cat and mouse took her mind off of her problems with Deku. Eventually, after avoiding Mina for the umpteenth time, the ladies stopped by the restrooms. It was packed. Too many people for her to wait in the restroom for her friend.
"I'll be back. Ribbit." Tsu croaked before heading inside, leaving Ochako behind.
Alone, with nothing to distract her but the chaotic order of the dance, Ochako's mind began to wander. "Deku." She whispered, her voice completely washed away by the ocean of sound around her. Her eyes closed softly.
Listen to your heart.
Maybe Tsu was right. Maybe she was just being too logical. It was just Deku, right? Sweet, adorable, kind, brave Deku.
She smiled at the thought of him, and she suddenly felt very, very foolish. She knew what her heart wanted. There was no use in denying it any longer.
"Alright my funky freaks, we'll be slowing it down again for this special request. This song's a classic from the pre-quirk age, so I wanna see you pretty couples out on the floor dancing your hearts out."
Her mind ground to a screeching halt as the opening notes began to play. She knew this song. Iris. It had been her parent's song.
Images flashed through her mind. Her standing on her dad's feet dancing to it in the living room of their family home. Her mother singing it as she fell asleep curled up on her parent's lap.
In the sudden flash of emotion, she failed to realize the person approaching her.
"Uraraka?" She turned around just as the opening words began to play.
I'd give up forever to touch you
Cause I know that you feel me somehow
He was wearing a forest green tux and his face was bright red with nervousness. He held one arm to his side and the other straight out towards her.
"C- Could I have this dance?"
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
Her breath caught in her throat. Her mind screamed at her to run, to hide, to be anywhere else but right there.
And I don't want to go home right now
She took his hand. It was warm. It was real.
All I can taste is this moment
He pulled and she followed as the lights on the dance floor turned aquamarine.
And all I can breathe is your life
They began to dance, moving in sync as the words she knew by heart rang out through the air.
And sooner or later it's over
The moment was perfect. He looked worried, but he always looked worried. All she had to do was say it.
I just don't want to miss you tonight
Just say it. Say it before anything problem, three simple words. She opened her mouth to speak.
And I don't want the world to see me
But nothing came out. She tried again. Nothing. She stopped moving as fear gripped her heart and a deep realization hit her.
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
She couldn't do it. She was too scared. That fear took hold of her and her natural instinct to run overwhelmed her. Stepping away from Deku, she broke their contact.
When everything's meant to be broken
"Uraraka?" He asked. He looked hurt. She'd hurt him. She'd hurt Deku. Her chest grew tight. It became hard to breathe.
I just want you to know who I am
The surrounding couples began to notice what was happening and turned to look at her. She felt their eyes on her like a thousand crawling ants. It was the final straw. Primal instinct took over as she gave in to the rising panic attack.
The stairs were directly behind her, and she climbed them as fast as she could. She had to get away, had to hide somewhere, anywhere. The interlude played all around her, a song she'd loved turned into the sick ballad of her own humiliation.
"Uraraka?" She faintly heard Deku calling as he climbed the stairs after her. She took a hard left as she hit the gallery, weaving in and out of the small groups of students that covered its length. The air was thick and hot. Every breath she took stuck in her throat. She couldn't think, couldn't breathe.
She needed Tsu, but to get back to the bathrooms she'd have to cross Deku.
Breaking through the last of the students, she emerged onto the balcony. She drew in a long gasp of the crisp night air. It burned like ice cold fire. Letting it out in ragged huffs, she crossed to the edge of the platform and leaned over.
How had she been so stupid?
You can't fight the tears that ain't comin
"No." She whispered to herself as the rest of the song began playing out in her head.
Or the moment of truth in your lies
"No," She said louder, fighting at the stinging behind her eyes. How could she have left him there? He would hate her.
When everything feels like the movies
It was never about the logic. It was never about being a hero. She'd been afraid. Afraid to admit these feelings. Afraid that if she did, he'd change. That what they had would change.
Ya you bleed just to know your alive
She whirled around in fright. Her eyes were full of panicked, irrational terror as she met the gaze of Deku. Her blood ran cold as ice. The look on his face. She'd only seen it a couple of times before. The sports festival, the training camp. It was that look of cold, steely, unbreakable determination. Once he got that look, nothing on heaven nor earth could stop him.
"No." The word was barely audible. The dam broke, hot crystalline tears ran down her cheeks. She couldn't move, couldn't brush them away, frozen in place by Deku's eyes, her gaze locked with his.
"Uraraka." He said again. Something flashed across his features, something she didn't quite catch. "Uraraka, I…" His voice broke as if he was struggling to continue. Then, she saw the last thing she expected to enter his eyes. Shame.
The boy swallowed and his gaze fell away, but never once did that determination fade. She could feel it, see it, sense it everywhere in his entire body. The way he stood, the way he held himself. Even his voice, though choked and breaking, held that power, that weight within it. "Uraraka," he repeated her name again, a little louder. "I'm sorry."
His eyes were slammed shut, so he missed the look of utter confusion that began to take shape on Ochako's face. He was… sorry? Sorry for what? She'd been the one who'd been avoiding him all night, the one who'd left in the middle of their dance, the one who'd-
It came to her like flipping on a light switch. She understood what Deku was saying, why he'd followed her up there, and why he'd been acting so nervous all night. He thought she'd been avoiding him because of something he did. He blamed himself, and probably not just for the dance. She'd been going out of her way to spend as little time with him as possible since the event was first announced. He blamed himself for her poor decisions. She let out a nervous laugh, then another, and another, until she was bent over, holding her stomach, giggling uncontrollably. She couldn't help it, faced with the sheer absurdity of the entire situation.
The dork, her dork, thought it was his fault. All this time. All of her fear, her indecision. All of her misconceptions, her thoughts of ruined friendships, of broken dreams. All of the things that she'd let control her life as of late. All of it, and he blamed himself. He was apologizing to her.
And it was just too ridiculous for her to even comprehend.
Deku looked up and opened his eyes as Ochako bent over at the knees, holding her stomach as she slid down one of the banisters behind her.
"What?" He asked tears in the edges of his voice.
She only laughed harder. After only a moment, Deku let out a nervous chuckle which grew and grew until he too was laughing, albeit far less enthusiastically.
Eventually, the Ochako calmed down. She took a deep breath and swallowed hard. She'd needed that. She needed to laugh, to see just how stupid she'd been.
"I take it you're not mad anymore?" Deku asked hopefully as he crossed to sit against one of the banners next to her.
She chuckled, though far more subdued than before. A mixing of music and voices drifted out from the dance through the open double doors at the end of the balcony, and she could just make out the end of the song.
"I was never mad." She said quietly, closing her eyes. She was tired. So so tired. The past day had begun exhausting, emotionally and physically.
"If you weren't angry, then-" She leaned into him, letting her head rest on his shoulder, and he shut up, his face going a deep shade of scarlet.
She should have been flipping out as well, but she was just too tired. She needed warmth and comfort, neither of which awaited her in the dance hall.
"Deku-" She began, but stopped, hesitation seizing her voice. This was her second chance. She could still tell him, still make things right. "Deku, I-" Three words. What was so hard about them? What made her hesitate like this? She wanted to tell him. Whether or not it was logical, whether or not it would get in the way of their dreams, she needed to tell him.
"Uraraka?" Deku's nervous voice cut through the heavy fog of doubt clouding her thoughts and she tensed. "I can't say I know what the problem is, and I can't say I'd even know how to fix it if I did, but-" He stopped, and she couldn't help but glance up. His eyes were clenched shut. He was scared. "Uraraka." he tried again, this time opening his eyes and turning them to stare into hers.
"Uraraka." His voice sounded nervous, yet determined as he said her name once again. "You were the first friend I met at U.A. You saved my life at the entrance exam. You inspired me to do my best." His voice took on a quiet, almost sad quality. "I… don't want to lose you."
Lose her? Deku thought he was gonna lose her? It clicked, suddenly. Every time she'd avoided him, every conversation she'd cut short, she'd never once thought, truly thought about how it must've seemed to him.
"Deku…" Ochako said hesitantly. She needed to reassure him. To say something, do something that would let him know he wasn't going to lose her.
His voice stopped her from continuing. "If you need to talk to me, no matter what, I'll listen. I'll help you. I'll do whatever it takes-" He was cut off with a yelp as Uraraka pulled him into a hug. The brunette felt that sting at the backs of her eyes and she knew she was going to cry as Deku turned to fully embrace her. If she couldn't say the words, she'd show him.
They sat there on the knees, hugging each other tightly. The sound from the open doors washed over them like ocean waves crashing against stone, but Ochako didn't let that stop her. She tried to force those words, those three little words, that she couldn't seem to bring herself to say, into her actions. Eventually, after several minutes, they separated, returning to their positions against the railing. Uraraka kept one hand firmly grasped in his. She rubbed the rough pad of her thumb over his thickly scarred skin. She remembered how he got those scars. The sports festival. His fight with Todoroki. Those scars were a reminder to Uraraka of what Deku's name meant to her. To always do your best.
Deku followed his heart. In order to be a hero, in order to save lives, in order to give her parents the life they deserved, she had to do the same. She wouldn't give up. She'd tell Deku how she felt. If not today, then tomorrow, and if she couldn't do it then, then she'd try the next day, and the next after that, and the next after that.
Running from her feelings had not only hurt her, it had hurt the one she cared for most, the one she loved. That was something she couldn't just let go, couldn't just forget.
"Deku." She said quietly. She was surprised to find that her voice actually sounded happy.
"I'm sorry I ruined our dance earlier." He wouldn't mind, she knew, but that didn't change the fact that she'd been wrong.
"About that…" His hand left hers, and the sudden absence of its warmth left Ochako feeling like something was missing. She turned to face him as he stood and pulled out his phone. "Jirou told me that song was special to you. She, uh-" He looked nervous, and if he hadn't just told her of her friends' betrayal, then Uraraka would be squealing about how cute he was. "She gave me a copy." He held out his hand to her as he placed his phone on the railing of the balcony. The opening notes of Iris played out loud and clear.
Ochako's eye twitched. He had the song, her song. You couldn't find it in stores anymore. Only on a few select sites on the web dedicated to preserving that kind of stuff. Thinking how into to music she was, Ochako had shared it with Jirou. Looking back, this also probably explained how Present Mic got the song. It was obvious that she'd been betrayed, and probably not just by Jirou and Mina. If those two were in on this, it was a safe bet that Hagakure was as well. When all was said and done, she was gonna have to have words with her female classmates about minding their own business. However, until then…
"Uraraka," Deku's face hadn't turned red this time. His confidence was apparent, and it spread to her. She couldn't stop a large smile from spreading across her face. "Could I have this dance?" She took his hand and rose as he helped her to her feet. He pulled her close as the lyrics began to ring out in the crisp night air. She fell in against his chest, and his arms wrapped around her. Her face went red at the closeness, but that didn't matter. If he wasn't scared, then she wouldn't be either. His heart beat a steady rhythm against her chest, and at that moment, the entire world fell away. Nothing mattered. Not school, or heroics, or their friends or enemies. Whether she confessed her secrets or hid them away, it wasn't important. In that moment, all they were was a boy and girl dancing to a song of love.
This time, she didn't run away.
A/N: If there is enough interest, I might do a snippet or too, little extra scenes to add on the end.
It was fun to write this, to kinda get away from the intensity of The Weight of a Broken Soul. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing.
Till next time,