A Hint of Magic
There was one thing that Katsuki Bakugo hated more than anything else.
Yet, here he was contemplating that he might have to, and it irritated him to no end. It was supposed to be simple. Play lip service to the mage and get her location. Meet up, take her side of the mirror, and then make enough gold from selling them both out to further his dream. But things were hardly ever so straightforward in his life.
Bakugo thrashed in his makeshift bed. Furs rolled over his body as he finally sat up to greet the morning. The smell of scented oils with a hint of alcohol filled his nostrils. He groaned. Τhe illusionist must have snuck into his tent last night. Katsuki turned his head to see the accursed mirror in the same spot, faced down, but slightly ajar. Camie might have thought she had been stealthy, but he knew better. She was fascinated with the object ever since it came into their possession. The woman also begged to meet the girl that her boss had been talking to these last few weeks.
The mirror itself was imbued with magic, allowing the user to see and communicate with its replica. Bakugo's band of mercs had discovered it months ago when they were hired by the local viscount to purge a den of goblins. After the effortless task was done, he came upon a chest containing the object. Kaminari, a recent hire, was the one that saw value in it. He sensed the power it held even if he couldn't pinpoint what it was. At the time, it functioned like any other mirror, and Katsuki only kept it because he did not own one.
"Don't wanna look like shit in front of the cannon fodder when giving orders."
Bakugo had stated this as an argument not to toss it. In truth, he was only tired of Utsushimi pointing out his facial flaws every morning, and thankfully, this was mostly remedied.
Either way, one day, the relic had come to life. A short girl with brunette hair that bobbed and curved inward appeared; dressed in red and white robes while holding a large staff, she was something Katsuki wasn't accustomed to seeing. Such folk rarely signed up for his line of work. She introduced herself as Ochako Uraraka, a talented mage soon to gain mastery of her craft. This at once interested Bakugo. Besides the illusionist and dunce face, the magic capabilities of his mercenaries were quite limited. From what Katsuki had seen of Ochako's spells, she would be a great addition to his group.
"Oh, I get it, boss. Lots of gold and a recruit. Two birds with one stone!"
Kirishima showed his support for Bakugo's plan as the latter explained what was going on. The dragon shapeshifter was Katsuki's right-hand man and ace in the hole. Eijiro's presence as a hulking red wyvern was intimidating enough sometimes, to win battles instantly. Beyond that, he was an offensive powerhouse with his flame breath and a bulwark from his rock hard hide when needed.
However, the entire plan was under threat from Bakugo's most recent temper tantrum. The man's fuse was quite similar to his specialty in combat, short and explosive. Progress had been slow in revealing the mage's whereabouts, which lead to hastily demanding to know where Uraraka was. No subtly. No tack. No thought behind it. When Kirishima had tried to ease tensions, the mage broke out in laughter at the scene, stunning both men. Embarrassed, the boss lost his cool and kicked the shapeshifter out of his tent after giving him a sharp tongue. To try and save face, Katsuki ended the conversation, and they hadn't talked since. Neither had tried to contact each other for longer than the merc boss could stand.
All that work at risk, just for the sake of his pride. Was it worth it? No, Bakugo quickly figured out. As the days went by, he grew more and more exasperated at what had happened. The man also started to feel boredom creep back into his life. Life as a mercenary became repetitive, and without much challenges, since viscounts and barons were the only ones hiring him: no dukes, marquesses, or even earls. The eventual goal was to gain favor with the current king to be knighted. And considering the personality of the head of the royal family, he needed fame and fortune to grab his attention. The mirror was his key out of this hell hole of mundane work, and now the opportunity to end it seemed in peril.
What drew Bakugo's ire more though, was another feeling. He missed chatting with the girl. But why? There was no logic to it. She was supposed to be a means to an end. Katsuki couldn't comprehend why this emotion of isolation from Ochako had occurred. He had plenty of people under his command, so it wasn't like he was lonely, especially with Eijiro being at his side for most of the day.
So what was it?
At first, Katsuki figured it was because the event had shaken up the drudging low-level work as of late. But that explanation didn't last as an exploding keg of mead the day after he formed this thought, and the ensuing chaos it brought, had done little to excite him. Each excuse afterward, became increasingly more illogical and was hastily dismissed as the last. Eventually, Bakugo hated to have to admit he was only making up excuses to hide the truth. He had a fondness for the woman.
With that revelation came even further irritation. What point was there for such feelings? They got in the way of his dream to be the new legendary hero of all the lands. There was a lot of competition for the title. The biggest was the prince of the kingdom and a farm boy, who was being trained by the now-retired former legendary hero. Katsuki had no time or effort to spare. While knowing this, he yearned from the deepest reaches of his being to at least speak to Ochako once more still.
For the next few days after the revelation, Bakugo constantly wondered what it was about Uraraka that he liked most. Was it how she supported his dream no matter how much the odds were stacked against him, while most laughed? He was born to the most powerful warlord in the land. His mother had long since retired from being a thorn in the kingdom's side, but it meant he had not an ounce of royal blood in his veins, so the typical path to knighthood was out of his reach.
Another thing Katsuki considered was how Ochako never was intimidated by his demeanor, and sometimes even snapped back? It was his go-to tactic when conversing with anyone. People either laughed it off, ignored it, or backed off. But she would challenge him head-on, not out of anger but with curiosity. Definitely, a response unknown to the man.
Or maybe it was the mage's intense interest when he spoke of his adventures? As a way to gain her trust, Bakugo thought of retelling his rise to power and the situations it got him in. From taking a token force from his mother after her retirement to winning over Kirishima; even explaining his frequent, if brief, run-ins with the former hero of legend.
Even still, was it her laughter to how he interacted while Kirishima or Kaminari was around? He was intensely embarrassed about it at first, and it was the cause of their current lack of communication with one another. But looking back, his less violent antics with his comrades had always brought a smile to her face.
Either way, his current frustration was figuring out a way to make amends. And unfortunately, apologizing seemed like the only option at this point. It was the very thing he hated the most. He never apologized to the farm boy for his actions when they were kids, and things had turned out well enough for them both. So why should he here? But she was different; his heart argued over his usual logic. This was not something he could put to chance.
"You up, sleepyhead?"
Katsuki rubbed his temple upon hearing the feminine voice from outside his tent. What now, he wondered.
"This better be hella quick." He didn't have time for her antics at the moment. She must have come to try and pry more information out of him.
This seems like a good time to expose her nightly visit, he thought.
What followed was not just one person entering the living space, but three. Denki and Kirishima had worried looks upon their faces. They feared the boss's wrath. Camie instead had an expression full of confidence. She stood behind the others but was quick to make her way through them to approach her boss.
"The boys tell me you have been down in the dumps," Utsushimi stated with concern.
"What else is new," Bakugo responded while lying back down and pulling his furs over. Maybe if he slept, they would just go away. It was too early in the day to raise his voice to send them off.
"Well, fret not sir, we have a sure-fire way to win back the one you desire," Camie said while grabbing the two others at her sides, and pulling them into an awkward hug.
So the others had blabbed about it. Katsuki groaned internally. Of all people, he wanted her to be out of the loop the most. Her usefulness during work came at the great price of her annoying behavior. And now he was to be lectured in romance? Fat chance.
As Bakugo got up to protest, Kirishima spoke up, "Sir, we just want you to be happy. You've not been yourself these last few weeks, and it's really getting to us. The others are worried too."
Katsuki immediately felt distraught. He hadn't apologized to the shapeshifter since the day he lost contact with Ochako. He wasn't going to, of course, but that didn't mean he didn't regret it. And now this; still worried about his boss even after said party treated him like dirt at times.
Bakugo sat up and said, "Alright, alright, I'll hear you out, but this better be good." He owed Kirishima that much he figured.
The illusionist was beyond ecstatic and proclaimed, "We won't disappoint you, sir!" She let go of the shapeshifter and explained, "First, our man here has come up with a way to speak with her that will no doubt have her too flabbergasted to ever be mad at you."
Denki blushed at the closeness of the woman but cleared his throat to say, "Why not just say you like her? The shock might just make her forgive you. I've seen it work countless times!"
Takes one to know one, Bakugo almost said back to Kaminari. However, the dunce-face's suggestion immediately started to take root in Katsuki's mind. The woman was easily flustered at times; perhaps this could work. Sure beat apologizing.
Camie then stated, "Then comes me!" She came beside her boss and said in a quiet voice, "To be blunt, sir, your way with words could use some work if you are ever going to woo a woman such as her."
It took a second for Bakugo to calm his nerves before asking, "And how would you know what to say to her? You never even seen her."
Utsushimi smirked. "Oh, the boys have provided me more than enough information to know how she ticks. And don't be too worried about not sounding like yourself. This type of flirtatious talk complements your—" She coughed and held a burst of laughter, "unique personality."
This latter plan was not as appealing to the mercenary leader as the last. But, it sure beat wallowing in despair as it had been for the past few weeks. He looked back at the mirror. It was faced down. Neither had tried to contact one another since. He rarely let it see anything but the blackness of whatever he placed the mirror on top of. Contacting her wouldn't be so hard. He just needed the courage and a plan before trying to contact her once more.
And now he had both, as well as the support of his comrades. Even if it wasn't the best plan of action, he appreciated the effort. It also made him realize that what was the point of being on top, if there was no one to share it with? She could be the one, so he had to try at least.
"This will either work flawlessly or crash and burn," Bakugo said as he stood up. He looked at his crew and shrugged his shoulders as he said, "Why the hell not?"
A oneshot from me? With this ship? Unexpected perhaps?
To start, there is a sister fic to this. "A Watched Pot" took a look at Ochako's side to this story and was written by afreakingdork (Ao3). Both are just a small part of the Reflections: A Camp Kacchako Server Zine (cmpkacchakozine on Twitter). It is a free zine, and if you look up on Twitter/Tumblr, you'll find the google doc link of 101 pages of oneshots and art of members from the Camp Kacchako Discord server. It was to celebrate the discord's 2nd anniversary back in September, which is when all 52 of us started working on it. The theme to have members of the discord come together to work with a partner to create fics/art that reflected one another. It was finished at the start of December and was officially released last Sunday. I wanted to wait a week before publishing it to and Ao3.
I've wanted to write a oneshot for a while, but it always became a dead-end cause at the end of the day I felt like I could be spending my time working on Cubicity. I was invited by VagitisArt (Twitter), one of the mods of the zine+discord, who is also a good discord friend, to work on it. Being a part of the Camp Kacchako discord community for 1.5 years and the entire effort everyone was giving inspired me to write something else for once finally, and I'm glad for the experience. Oneshots have always been difficult for me because of how limited in scope they are (as my only experience is writing a long fic). I always wanted to write more, but I learned how to dial it back eventually.
While the mirror idea was afreakingdork's genius idea, the plan to go as the medieval AU was mine. I felt it fit the magic mirror plot more than a canon/modern setting. At first, there were going to be quirks. We instead changed to powers similar to canon but not because of quirks. Besides, it wasn't like quirks were a massive part of the story, so it was a simple change in the end.
Don't expect oneshots very often from me (considering it took me 2.5 years to finally start writing one), but I can say the experience did vastly boost my confidence in writing them. This won't be the only one I write. ;p