There she was, in her school uniform with the bright red tie and deep green skirt. It was the same one every girl in UA wore, the same one Ochako herself wore, but it looked different on Tsuyu. Better.

I'm hopeless, Ochako thought as she stood there in the hallway. I can't deny it anymore.

Ochako was, in the far-from-subtle words Mina had used when she found out, 'totes gay for Tsuyu'. Which was fine. Ochako accepted that. She trusted her heart, and if it fell for a girl as objectively wonderful and kind as Tsuyu, she wasn't going to fight it. Tsuyu was a truly amazing person, so hard working and reliable and friendly and pretty and striking and lovely and—

I'm doing it again. I'm staring while I gush about her to myself. It's probably creepy, and she'll notice it eventually and—

"Hey there, Ochako." Tsuyu had noticed, and she'd stepped close. So close.

Ochako's breath caught in her throat and her thoughts caught in her head.

Tsuyu leaned in closer, unintentionally intensifying the effects. "You okay?"

"I'm fine," Ochako eventually managed. "Just zoned out. Sorry!" she said with a wide and genuine smile. It was easy to be cheerful around Tsuyu, after all. Ochako just had to push through the love-tinted fog that filled her head whenever she laid eyes on Tsuyu, or thought about her. Or did anything else at all, really.

"Well don't zone out too long. Mister Aizawa wants everyone in class early today, remember? To look professional for the guest instructor."

Ochako started moving again, down the wide hallway lit by the morning sun. "Right, of course. Thanks for looking out for me."

Tsuyu matched her pace. "No problem. It's what friends do."

Right. Friends… Ochako thought with an ache in her heart.

Ochako had tried to pay attention to the guest instructor, she truly had. But Tsuyu sat just two seats ahead of her, and Iida wasn't blocking the view like normal since he was up helping the instructor demonstrate… something.

Instead of focusing on the lesson, Ochako stared at Tsuyu's back and that long, shiny hair in its adorable looped bow, and she thought. She thought about whether and how to confess. She dreamed of possible dates to go on together. And she remembered that it was nearly Valentine's Day. Then she panicked.

I should get her chocolates, right? No, I should make them. But I don't know how to make chocolate. Then I'll learn. And I'll need to visit the store to buy ingredients. I can use the dorm kitchen. Or do I need permission? I'll ask after class.

Ochako clenched her fist and gave a firm nod. I can do this.

"Um, Ochako?" It was Deku, his spiky green hair and wide eyes peeking in from the hallway. The classroom was otherwise empty. "We're moving outside for the rest of the demonstration."

"Oh! Right, of course! Coming!"

It was a tough couple of days, especially with the makeup quiz eating into Ochako's Valentine's preparation time. But how was she supposed to know there'd be a quiz on the guest instructor's lesson? But she did it. She found and printed a great little recipe for chocolate-covered shortbread cookies, acquired all the ingredients from the grocery store, and even successfully slipped down to the dorm kitchen after dark without drawing any attention.

So of course the doubt started to set in. Will she feel the same way about me? What if giving romantic chocolates out of the blue ends up pushing her away, or harms our friendship?

She nearly dropped a mixing bowl, but she quickly used her quirk on it so it just floated away slowly. No. I need to do this. I'll just give them to her without explanation, and let her decide whether it's a romantic gesture or just a gift between friends.

She retrieved the rogue mixing bowl, along with a spatula she didn't even remember levitating, and set to work. It was slow going, not because she wasn't used to cooking or anything; she cooked back at home all the time. No, the problem was perfectionism and self doubt. She measured and double-measured, she re-read the recipe a dozen times, and she made progress at a snail's pace.

She was taking the pan of shortbread cookies out of the oven when—

"Oh, you're here too, Uraraka?"

A male voice. No cause for alarm. She turned and saw Todoroki near the door, carrying a grocery bag with contents almost identical to her own.

"I'm planning to make chocolates for Midoriya," he said simply, brazenly.

I wish I had his confidence, she thought. Then as Todoroki started to work with practiced ease, she added, I wish I had his skill.

After mangling her first shortbread cookie and drowning the second one in chocolate, Ochako knew she needed help. An expert's help. Thankfully, there seemed to be one not even a dozen feet away, working silently.

"Hey, Todoroki? Can you give me some tips on how to coat these cookies in chocolate without messing them up? My recipe sort of glossed over that part."

"Sure." He gently set the steel pan he'd been heating with his quirk on a hot pad, then made his way over.

"But just guidance, okay?" she quickly added. "I need to make these myself. I'm sure you understand."

He smiled a small and subtle smile. "Of course."


Armed with a few expert pointers and an experienced eye to keep her from going astray, Ochako finished chocolate-coating the entire first batch of cookies with no more casualties. She had bought enough ingredients for two small batches in case something went wrong with the first, and it very nearly had.

The second batch was in the oven and Todoroki was working diligently at his own objective when he surprised Ochako by starting up a conversation.

"I can tell you're putting a lot of effort into those chocolates. If you don't mind my asking, who are you making them for?"

She took a deep breath, then answered, "Well, I guess it's only fair, since I know yours. It's for—"

She clamped her lips shut and stared wide-eyed at the doorway. A very distinctive silhouette, currently dressed in pajamas and socks, had entered the kitchen.

"I thought I heard someone down here, ribbit." Tsuyu glanced at Ochako and Todoroki. "Making some last-minute Valentine's chocolate?"

Todoroki gave a small nod. "That's right," he said calmly.

Ochako tried to follow his lead, but the nod was more of a jitter, and the words were barely intelligible. She cast a panicked glance at Todoroki and he met her gaze. Then that literal hero changed the topic before Tsuyu could ask anything else about the chocolates.

"But why are you down here so late at night?" he asked.

Tsuyu fidgeted as she answered, "I… couldn't sleep. Got hero stuff on my mind."

The other two nodded quietly. They could understand that problem, for sure. The world outside of UA was a scary place, with all the villains and conflict around, but that was all the more reason to become a hero. Ochako had decided to become a pro hero for the money, but she stuck through all the hardships and life-threatening danger for a bigger reason: the world needed her.

"Mind if I hang out while you work?"

Ochako had two answers to that question, each being argued for by a different side of her mind. One was happy for any excuse to spend time with Tsuyu, and the other was afraid of ruining the surprise, or worse, doing something stupid and upseting Tsuyu when she was already exhausted. The slightly-more rational side won out.

"Not at all," Ochako blurted, a little too loudly.

"Thanks." Tsuyu hopped into the wide windowsill nearest Ochako and reclined with her feet up against the wall. Gravity tugged at her pant legs and revealed her calves, which were normally covered by her uniform socks. It was a wonderful bit of casual intimacy, a sight others didn't get to see.

Ochako caught herself staring, shook her head, and forced herself back to work. She needed to coat the second batch, then package all the cookies into the cute bag and tissue paper she'd picked out. But first, she needed to take the cookies out of the oven.

Once she had the 350-degree pan out of the oven, she realized she didn't have anywhere to set it. All the available counter space was taken by cooling chocolate-covered cookies or used utensils. "Can I get a hand here? I need a place to put this."

Ochako had expected Todoroki to be the one to help since he was closest, but Tsuyu was faster. "I got it," she said as she leapt from her perch and gracefully landed nearby. She shuttled the first batch of cookies to the windowsill she had just been occupying, then cleared even more space for a cooling rack by taking dirty dishes to the sink.

Ochako moved the cookies from the pan to the cooling rack, but when Tsuyu started washing dishes, Ochako spoke up, "Oh, you don't have to do that. I was planning to clean up once the chocolates are done."

"It's fine. Cleaning helps clear my mind."

She's so thoughtful and wonderful and she deserves to be happy, Ochako thought as she dunked another cookie into molten chocolate. I just hope these chocolates can do that.

Ochako and Tsuyu finished their tasks at about the same time, but the second batch needed to cool before Ochako could wrap them up. That meant she needed to fill the time somehow, which felt like both a blessing and a curse.

What should I talk about? I don't want to spoil the surprise on accident, so it shouldn't be related to Valentine's Day, and I get the impression that Tsuyu doesn't want to talk about heavy hero stuff right now. Maybe some gossip about classmates? No that'll bring the conversation to Valentine's Day for sure.

Ochako's thoughts meandered and looped back on themselves, and she never found a topic that was better than the calm and comfortable silence they already had. The only sounds were Todoroki pouring chocolate into a mold and Tsuyu and Ochako cleaning. It was all very relaxing, and made Ochako realize just how late it had gotten and how tired she was.

When the kitchen was finally all cleaned up, she said, "Thanks for the help, Tsuyu."

"No problem, ribbit. This has been fun."

"It has, hasn't it? I wasn't sure about making this at first, and I messed up a couple before Todoroki taught me how to coat them properly. Thanks again, Todoroki."

He waved a hand dismissively. "Don't mention it." Then he peered over at Ochako's cookies on the windowsill. "These look solid enough to bag up now."

"Great. I'll do that now." With a spatula, she gently placed the cookies on green tissue paper, then put that inside a pink plastic bag along with the previous batch.

I can do this. And I trust my heart, no matter how this turns out.

Ochako tied the top of the bag closed with a bit of green string, then she took a slow breath. She used her quirk on the bag and gently pushed forward with both hands, sending it floating slowly toward Tsuyu.

Ochako looked down at her own feet and muttered, "For you, Tsuyu."

Tsuyu caught the floating gift, then blinked at it with her big, round eyes. "Thank you, but—"

But? Ochako's world stopped.

"—this is too much chocolate for me. I'd like to share them with you."

Ochako felt her cheeks grow hot and a smile bloomed on her lips. Over Tsuyu's shoulder, she saw Todoroki slip out of the kitchen with a tiny smile and a wave.

"Th-that would be great," Ochako stammered. She was grinning from ear to ear, and so was Tsuyu.