(A/N) IRL things have reared their ugly heads once more, and the result was probably the longest gap between updates that we've seen so far. If you're worried that I've abandoned this story because I've lost interest in My Hero Academia or something, don't be. Sure, the latest chapters don't inspire confidence or anything, but unless the manga pulls a RWBY and makes me step away from the story for a year, I don't think we'll have any issues.

Regardless, the wait was unforgivably long. It was my intention to make this chapter a double update, but that simply wasn't possible with what I have going on rn. I figured that I'd give you the first chapter now, and the second chapter a little later once things start to clear up for me.

With that said, however, I have a tentative update list for 2021 in my profile that goes over every chapter update that I plan to get done before the new year. You'll quickly see that December will be doing some hard carrying lol. All voting will be done in my discord server from now on, so if you want a say on that front, feel free to drop in. You can find the most recent invite link on the front page of my pa treon (link in profile) or in my Spacebattles/Questionable Questing Signatures.

On that note, go check out the illustrations over there! Lol.

Big thanks to AzureFlame Dragon King for beta-reading!

X

"Good Morning, Young Midoriya! I regret to wake you with bad news, but I'm afraid that I will not be able to be there to help you prepare for the sports festival. There is something very important that I must attend to leading up to the event, so you won't see me much outside of class. If you have any questions for me, don't hesitate to text me!"

With droopy eyes, Izuku held his cellphone under his desk and reread the message that All Might had sent him that morning.

It was a strange turn of events, but he really didn't have the energy to be as worried as he normally would be when told that his mentor would be absent

His head was spinning.

The day couldn't have been any slower. It felt like he'd been glued to his desk for the past five hours, but it wasn't even–

The bell rang.

His blurry eyes took a moment to find the clock hung on the wall.

–noon yet!

His saving grace was that there would only be one more class before lunch. The boy watched the teacher leave the room like some sort of dispassionate owl.

Ah… Five minutes of peace and quiet…

"Psst! Deku-kun!"

Hm?

He slowly turned his head to the side and smiled shakily.

"Ah. Uraraka-sa–"

"Are you all right, Midoriya-kun!?" asked Iida-kun before he could get his words out, as exuberant as ever.

The pair had come to his desk to check on him. How nice of them.

Izuku tried to lift his arms and wave them enthusiastically, but his biceps were much too sore for that. He settled for offering them a reassuring smile.

"Thanks, you guys, but I'm fine. Just a little tired is all."

If their worried frowns were anything to go by, his assuaging words didn't do a very good job of… well, assuaging.

Something made a croaking sound right next to his ear. If his legs had any energy left in them, he might've jumped out of his seat.

"A-A-Asui-san!"

He didn't even notice her, somehow.

"Tsuyu," she corrected automatically. "You've been looking like you're auditioning for a bad zombie movie all week. Ribbit."

"Mm," Uraraka-san eagerly agreed. "You should take it easy, Deku-kun. I know that the sports festival is coming up soon and all, but overdoing isn't good either."

Was he overdoing it?

…Probably, yeah.

Externally, his face was about as blank as a white sheet of paper, but he really just wanted to curl into a ball on the floor and cry.

But it's not like I have a choice or anything!

He could only offer a shaky thumbs-up.

"Right."

"Hey. Can you people shut up? Class is about to start."

It took Izuku a good moment to realize that it was Kacchan, sat in front of him, who spoke. The blonde wasn't even turned to glare at him angrily as he usually would. Heck, there was no anger. Period.

"Hey, Kacchan. Are you in a bad mood or something?"

The other boy clicked his tongue but didn't give much more than that.

Izuku then realized that it was a stupid question. Kacchan was always in a bad mood, more or less.

Uraraka-san gasped and clasped her hands.

"I know!" she explained, completely ignoring Kacchan. "How about we all go do something after class today? To wind down, I mean. We all need a break at this point."

Ah… that sounded nice.

Izuku shook his head and scratched the back of it abashedly. "Sorry, I'll be pretty busy. I have an… appointment later."

"Appointment" might not have been the best word for it, but it was what he was going with.

"But–"

The door to the classroom opened and the roaming students rushed back to their seats.

Emiya-sensei walked into the room for the second time that day, but he was not alone. Their Modern Literature teacher, Pro Hero Cementoss, was hot on his heels.

A student followed him in. Then another.

Five... Ten… Twenty…

All of class 1-B? Was there enough room for two whole classes here?

Hm? They kept taking glances behind them.

"Sorry, everyone," their teacher called out. He stood at the front of the class and rested his hands on the podium facing them. "Today's guest speaker was a bit of a last-minute arrangement. He doesn't have the time to meet with us twice, so I had Ishiyama-sensei and class 1-B join us here during their period."

He suddenly bowed in the newly-entered group's direction, catching nearly everyone off guard.

"I'm very sorry about this."

No one in class 1-B spoke up. It was easy to imagine that none of them really minded if they had less work to do as a result.

Ishiyama-sensei rubbed the top of his head.

"No worries. This is a good opportunity for them. There's time to catch up on the stuff we missed later."

Emiya-sensei nodded. With that, Cementoss led the students behind him to the back of the class. It was a little cramped, but since the other class was standing, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Izuku ignored the chilling feeling of people glaring at the back of his head.

The Hero Ideologies teacher cleared his throat and looked to the still-opened door.

"Right. Please come in."

Somehow, each guest that Sensei brought to class was crazier than the last.

Suddenly, the far-off looks on his colleagues' faces made a lot more sense.

It was all that he could do to not shout out in excitement. Some of his classmates didn't seem to recognize the guest, but that wasn't the case for the vast majority.

Shining silver armour that covered flowing, royal blue robes. That weapon wasn't on him, but that probably wasn't the sort of thing that someone should be brought into a classroom anyway.

"This is Arthur," introduced Sensei. "He's a top professional hero from the United Kingdom, and one of the international heroes that have been called to Japan to attend the UA Academy sports festival. This year's competitions won't go by as they usually do, so I figured that he would be a much better person to run you through adjustments in the event protocol than me. If you have any questions, raise your hand. Arthur will be more than happy to answer them for you."

Murmurs broke out, but they were cut short once the foreign hero cleared his throat.

"Hello, everyone," he greeted them in surprisingly-clear Japanese. "As I'm sure many of you don't know me, allow me to give you a little bit of background information about my– ah. On second thought, before I get into that, perhaps it's best to start by highlighting the main difference between the Japanese hero system and the one in place in the UK. Any guesses as to what that difference might be?"

It took the students –Izuku included– a moment to realize that a question had been posed to them. It took them half as long to start coming up with answers.

A student from class 1-B who he didn't recognize –a boy with short and spiky hair– was the first to shoot his hand into the air.

Emiya-sensei called out his name for him to speak.

"Tsuburaba."

"The UK is a bunch of countries, right?" asked the boy. "There's Britain, Scotland, Ireland… uh…"

"And Wales. Yes," the guest speaker finished on his behalf. "They all share the same hero directorate. It's generally understood that bodies that govern hero activities operate nationally, we just have the one in four independent regions. As a result, the Hero Directorate of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland –our Hero Association– is one of the largest in the world. Here in Japan, heroes work together, but agencies are independent for the most part. In Britain, partnerships form to act as subsidiaries of the national association."

Kaminari-kun raised his hand, and he was given the go-ahead to speak his mind.

"So they're, like, extra-large hero teams, right?"

Arthur closed his eyes.

"You can certainly think of them that way. Imagine a 'league' of heroes. Instead of a single hero overseeing a neighbourhood, it's dozens overseeing a city, or hundreds overseeing a region. Camelot Agency is my 'league of heroes'. Most of England is under our watchful eye."

That's right.

Camelot Agency.

That was a name that someone like Izuku would know off the top of his head.

Heroes were "popular" in a way quite similar to celebrities. The general public would only know the names that they heard mentioned frequently; Japanese citizens would be most familiar with Japanese icons, Americans with American icons, Brits with British icons, so on and so forth.

And so, it stood to reason that something like the Camelot agency –immensely popular in the united kingdom as it was– wouldn't be as well known overseas.

A hero otaku like Midoriya Izuku, however, was not limited in such a way.

The Chivalric Hero, Arthur. Head of one of the largest hero groups in the world: Camelot.

Everything that could possibly be known about him, Izuku knew as well. His quirk, his habits, his duties.

As a direct result of this, one question in particular shot to the forefront of his mind almost immediately.

"Yes?"

He didn't even know that his hand was raised until Sensei spoke.

Izuku suppressed a quiver.

"Uhm– yes! Mister Arthur, you're the 'Chief Executive Officer' of the Camelot Agency," he stated more than he asked. "Who runs the agency while you're away?"

His being here shouldn't have been possible. Even in the UK, the man rarely made an appearance. As lofty as his position sounded, the reality of the matter was that Arthur was the keystone that kept Camelot afloat.

It wasn't anything like a normal company president going overseas for PR where task delegation could keep things running smoothly for a while. Arthur, quite famously, delegated nothing.

The man in question frowned, and for a second, Izuku thought that he had overstepped.

"I suppose that more is known about me in the east than I thought," the blonde mused, then paused. "…My right hand is qualified enough to take over for the short while that I'll be gone."

His "right hand", he said. If he remembered right, that would be–

"But your worry is well-placed," Arthur added, interrupting his thoughts. "This is a good time to talk a little more about what us international heroes are to do here, I gather."

The statement held an underlying request for a "go-ahead" from Emiya-sensei. A slight tilt of the head gave the foreign hero just that.

"I'm sure that your professor has already told you all how serious a matter this is. This is an effort to preserve the credibility of a top national hero school. Were the fate of an entire country not in peril, I –and the other heroes that have been invited– would not have been able to come."

Izuku did a double-take. Did he hear that right?

Apparently, he was not alone in that line of thinking. The previously tame peanut gallery started to murmur amongst themselves.

"Is something the matter?"

The guest speaker didn't raise his voice. He didn't even sound like he was really trying to take back control of the room, and yet, everyone shut up immediately.

Izuku didn't know that "authority" could be a passive quality in a person until that moment.

"…In a world where everyone is superhuman," tried the blonde again once things had quieted, "it is not an exaggeration to say that lost faith in the 'pro hero model' would invite unsurmountable anarchy."

Arthur did not explain that final point. He said it as though the very fact that people had quirks was a logical lead-in to such an extreme claim.

Izuku could say with absolute confidence that, amongst students present, none of the confusion had dwindled.

X

The very second that school ended for the day, he rushed to the exits while avoiding his friends' confrontations. He knew that if he didn't want to be late, he couldn't afford to take his time.

Being late, he had learned, was not a good idea.

And so, his already-tired legs carried him towards the train station as fast as possible while he lost himself in thought.

"The international heroes are not on duty. They are here to protect, but that is not what we want the public to think they're here to do. If something is amiss, do not come to us; it might rouse suspicion if you do. Report to your teachers and other local heroes instead. "

Arthur's words didn't leave his mind. They wouldn't. What a mess this was.

The international heroes were here to protect them, but they weren't actually allowed to do their job unless there was no other choice. Izuku couldn't imagine telling someone "If something is wrong, don't come to me".

It went against everything he believed being a hero was about. Even if international heroes had a tighter leash… even if the consequences could supposedly be catastrophic… even if…

Hm? Was he at the station already? That was a lot quicker than yesterday.

Izuku slowed to a more normal pace as he passed through the doors.

Strange. It wasn't that he was "stronger" than before or anything. Heck, his current state of exhaustion should've slowed him down, not the opposite.

The train had arrived. He boarded and made sure to grab a rail before it took off again.

Did improving his form really make that much of a difference?

It was something to think about, and think about it he did. His body moved on autopilot, and before he knew it, he was an hour south of Tokyo, fast approaching a public park on foot.

Ah… he still hadn't prepared himself mentally for this…

"Nice going, kid. Glad to see you're on time for once."

Izuku froze as he noticed the white-haired woman standing in front of him dressed in a hoodie and athletic shorts. Where did she get here!?

He sighed internally. At least she didn't seem to be in too bad of a mood this time.

Miruko crossed her arms.

"So? How are you holding up?"

He laughed sheepishly.

"A little on the sore side…"

"You wouldn't be if you listened to me and stretched properly after yesterday," she shot back.

Izuku blinked. A moment later, his hands came shooting out in front of him as he waved them frantically.

"I did! I swear!"

And he wasn't lying, either! He knew that he couldn't cut corners if he wanted to get better.

She hummed with narrowed eyes, and the boy couldn't help but look away.

"Show me how you've been doing it, then," Miruko demanded.

"Huh?"

He was pushed onto the ground by a strong pair of arms.

"R-right! Owowowowow please let go please let go please–"

She listened and took a step back. Izuku took a deep breath and repeated his stretches from the previous night starting with a quad stretch.

"Wrong."

"Eep!"

His hips were grabbed from behind and yanked to the right. As he stood on one leg, he would've fallen over if the woman's foot hadn't planted itself on top of his own. He winced.

"Keep yourself square. You might as well not stretch at all if you're not going to do it right. I'm going to let go now."

And she did. Izuku was given a moment to memorize the feel of–

"Stop," she said. "Next one."

He dropped back onto two feet and made a confused face.

"Shouldn't I hold it for a little longer, though?"

"Are you stupid?" She sounded genuinely curious to him despite his knowledge that she was being mocking. "We're fixing you up for later. If you stretch for real before we get down to business, your muscles will get all loose and stuff. We don't want that. Now show me what else you've been doing."

And so, one by one, he walked her through all the stretches that he had apparently been doing incorrectly. It took close to ten minutes altogether.

"Good. Now don't go forgetting any of this."

Izuku gulped.

"Yes, Ma'am!"

"Right. Let's start off light, then. Push-ups. Don't stop until I say so.

The boy suppressed a whine that threatened to escape his lips and dropped onto his hands and knees. The grass beneath him tickled his fingers.

The boy propped himself into position to start, but he felt as though something was off…

Ah.

He shuffled around and brought his elbows closer to his body. Miruko's content hum informed him that he had saved himself an earful.

He lowered himself until his chin touched the ground.

"So, kid. How was your day?"

He waited until he had completed his first push-up to answer her out-of-nowhere question.

"Is now really the best time to– hng!"

Her foot landed between his shoulder blades and slowly pushed him back down.

"I didn't tell you to stop yet, did I? Answer the question."

"But–"

"We're making small-talk. If you act like you're taking it easy, it won't feel like you're exerting yourself."

What kind of logic is that!?

The foot was lifted once it was clear that he would do as he was asked.

"It was good," he answered in a strained voice. He might have only started doing push-ups now, but it was already a little hard to breathe properly. Maybe it wouldn't have been that way if he wasn't forced to speak all the while. "We got the chance to meet an international pro hero today in Emiya-sensei's class."

"…I see. And who might that be?"

He didn't like that edge in her tone.

"Arthur–oof!"

A heavy weight dropped onto his back again, but it definitely wasn't a foot this time.

"Why are you sitting on me!?"

She ignored him and crossed her legs.

"That guy again? Seriously? What for?"

Izuku soon struggled to hold both of their weights. His arms trembled and Miruko's perch soon began to shake. She didn't seem to care, however.

"Sports… festival!" he struggled to exclaim. "New rules… for… foreign pros!"

The slave driver of a woman did a great job of pretending that her impromptu student wasn't about to pass out.

"Bah. It's not like blondie had anything to say that Archer couldn't say himself, right? Don't answer that. I know I'm right."

"Hnhnhn…" he whined.

"I mean, they've been attached at the hip since the bastard arrived in the country! That's weird, right? Hey, kid. You noticed it too" –she shifted so that she could slap his drifting elbow back into place, nearly making him topple over– "didn't you? In class, I mean. Your teacher was acting strange. He must've been."

Izuku felt like he would pass out at any moment. How the heck was she so heavy?

He tried to speak, but his body didn't have enough oxygen to spare. What came out was a jumbled mess.

Miruko clicked her tongue.

"Fine. You can stop now."

Oh gosh finally.

He collapsed like a puppet with its strings cut. The Rabbit Hero took her sweet time lifting herself from his person.

She blinked owlishly.

"Hm? You look like shit. Did I push you a little too hard? Sorry. I'm in a bad mood for some reason."

No kidding! Yeah, she was tough on him, but at least she usually stopped before he started to feel like he was about to die!

…She mentioned that Sensei and Arthur were close. It didn't really seem to be that way in class– it looked to be strictly business from his perspective at the time– but it did make sense that they'd know each other, come to think of it.

As was the case with most heroes, Izuku had been closely following Archer's career for as long as he could remember. While he was popular enough for a multitude of reasons in Japan, overseas –or at least in western Europe– he was best known for his role as the "mysterious foreign hero" that helped Camelot during one of the most infamous villain attacks in Britain's history.

The two of them must have been acquainted if nothing else.

…So… what? Was she jealous? Izuku didn't know about Archer's connection with her either until recently despite being the self-proclaimed authority on heroes, which meant that whatever there was between them wasn't very obvious to someone like him.

Of course, there was no way that he would actually ask her about that.

"Uhm… Miss Miruko?"

There was something that he did want to ask her though.

She stuck a pinky finger into her ear disinterestedly.

"What's up, kid?"

"Why are you…" he trailed off. He was getting a little embarrassed. "You know… uhm…

"Spit it out."

"Helping me?" he rushed ahead. "Why are you helping me? You just kind of… showed up and started training me without really explaining why."

She paused and stared at him emptily. The longer she stared, the more nervous Izuku became.

"It was just pissing me off, is all."

"W-what was?"

She sat cross-legged on the grass and motioned for him to do the same. Not being one to fight against her demands, he quickly dropped down in front of her.

"I kept hearing Archer and All Might's dumb plans to help you get better. I'm sure they want 'what's best for you' and all that stuff, but they're acting like a pair of headless chickens, and they're just overcomplicating everything."

"Archer?" he blurted out without thinking. All Might made sense: he was supposed to be the man's successor, after all, but since when did Archer have a stake in any of this? Did he know about that? Was Izuku not being careful enough with All Might's secret?

"Don't overthink it," she told him, noticing where his thoughts were heading. "He's your teacher now. The guy probably thinks that getting all up in your business is part of the job description or something. Sorry if it comes across as being a little creepy. He's like that sometimes."

"No, no!" He shook his head side to side violently. "It's not like that."

He understood that much. He didn't need to be told why a hero would want to help out a person in need, but that didn't mean that he understood how he caught Archer's attention in the first place. Was he really that far behind? Did he look like he had a big sign over his head that said "I need help!" when compared to his peers?

"…Look, Midoriya. The point is: I've been waiting around for this long, and it's clear by now that they don't know what to do with you. They're wasting your potential. I do know what to do with you, so I'm gonna fix you and shove it up that pansy-ass, brown-nosing–"

She cut herself off.

"Anyway. Give me a hundred front kicks. I'll stop to fix you if you're not doing it the way I want you to."

He nodded silently and did as he was told, starting with his left.

As he focused on his task, he couldn't help but internally reflect on what she had told him.

She said that she "knew what to do with him", but was that really true? Was any of this really making more of a difference than what All Might was already having him do? It wasn't like any kind of strength training would do much over such a short amount of time.

His next kick snapped up. The force behind it made the grass around them rustle.

He wasn't using One for All.

The boy froze with his leg in the air.

"Did… I do that?" he muttered under his breath.

"Nice!" the woman next to him shouted. "We're finally getting somewhere. Remember that feeling. You're going to be trying your damnedest to replicate it until it becomes second nature to you."

"Hold on! What was that!?" Izuku forgot his instructions to continue his exercises until told otherwise and spun to face his teacher with a stiff back. "I can't do that! How did I do that?"

She stared at him blankly.

"Why wouldn't you be able to?"

"Well, I mean… I'm not that strong. This isn't some martial arts movie or anything."

She laughed mockingly.

"What, you think it's some kung fu power or something? Kid, you're not weak. You've had muscle on ya. What's annoying as shit, though, is that no one's been showing you how to use it!"

His stiff back relaxed and his head tilted to the side. She lost him.

"What do you mean?"

Her finger poked his chest so hard that he almost fell flat on his rear.

"Look. I used to daydream about having a quirk like yours."

He steadied himself.

"You have?"

"Hell yeah! If you want to make it to the top, your superstrength quirk is your free ticket. You just need to find out where to board." She pointed down to herself. "Me? I have to pay for my ticket, and it's taken me a long time to find the money."

"…"

Izuku was silent for a moment. Partly due to the incredibly confusing analogy, but mostly because what she said got him thinking once he figured out what she meant.

It had always been his dream to be a hero, but All Might hadn't put him in a position to just be "a hero". He was given the best quirk; he was supposed to be the best hero.

His fingers balled up.

All Might had pulled him to the side during lunch break a week or so back. Right after Emiya-sensei had brought up the Sports Festival for the first time, actually. He had asked him to tell the world "I am here!". Not with words, but with actions.

He knew that, as the man's expected successor, performing well was important. However, an equally critical part of that equation eluded him until now.

He had spent his whole life envying all the other kids who had quirks. "At least they can be heroes," he thought. It was horrible: looking at all the fingers that could turn into pencils and the tongues that could change colours and knowing that not one of them would even try. He used to tell himself, "If I had a quirk like that, I would definitely be a hero!"

Now, it was almost as if the roles were reversed.

If Kacchan, or Todoroki, or Iida, or Uraraka, or Kirishima, or Mineta, or Kaminari, or anyone knew that he had the Number One Hero's quirk, would they feel the same way that he felt?

"If I had a quirk like that, I would definitely be the number one hero."

If he didn't succeed here, he was letting down his peers just as much as he was letting down the rest of the world. Somehow, it made this whole thing more intimidating than it already was.

But… there was no way to live up to those expectations. There wasn't that much time left, and nothing that he did could be–

"Oof!"

Miruko's heel was buried in his stomach. It stayed there for a few seconds before being removed, allowing him to slump over and hug his midsection.

"W-what was that for!?"

"You started rambling and ignored me when I was talking to you. Don't do that."

If this was the outcome, he'd make sure not to in future.

"As I was saying," she continued loudly, "Your quirk isn't all that special. Those other two idiots can't figure it out because one doesn't have a strength enhancement quirk and the other probably thinks that proper instruction is to tell someone to 'believe in themselves' or some shit."

Izuku couldn't look her in the eye. As much as he wanted to deny the accusations, that was more or less all that All Might could tell him up until now. The ability to use One for All came to the man a lot more naturally than it did him, apparently.

Miruko thought that she did know how to help him. That much had been obvious for a while now.

If only she would tell him why that was…

"I heard that."

"What!" he squeaked. "I didn't say anything!"

Her silence was damning. He thought that he was in for another hit, but instead, his worries were met with a sigh.

"You don't believe me. That's fine."

"No!" he shot back almost immediately. He didn't want her to get the wrong idea. "I do! I just–"

"Nah, it's simpler to just show you, I think."

Before he could ask what she meant, the woman faced a tree and kicked. As expected, the movement was powerful enough to displace the wind around them. Izuku's hair fluttered back for a moment.

He heard a loud crack, and his eyes widened in horror.

"M-miss… Miss Miruko, your…"

The tree barely had a scratch on it. Comparatively, the woman's leg was mangled.

No part of the damage was hidden by her attire. Her shin was bloodied and was already starting to swell. Her ankle was bent at an angle that wasn't even remotely okay.

"My leg?" she finished. She didn't even sound like she was in pain. "It's broken. I used my quirk without proper from. Do you understand now? Having 'control over your quirk' for someone like you or me is just as much about having control over your body as it is about having control over the quirk itself."

He had no words. His jaw continued to oscillate uselessly.

She did that… To prove a point?

"You trying to catch flies? Close your mouth; it's not that serious. I'll go visit old lady Chiyo when we're done."

Chiyo… she meant recovery girl? Ah. Right. He totally forgot about that.

His hands were still shaking.

"Right, sorry," he muttered at a volume that he hoped was adequate. "Do you need help getting to UA?"

She laughed.

"Not from you, I don't. I'm gonna call a ride or something. Regardless, I expect you back here at the same time tomorrow. Don't expect a day off."

He nodded and gulped. He didn't dare ask if she thought that she would be okay by then.

"I won't."

She shooed him off with a wave of the hand as he bowed.

"Get lost, then. If you have any hope in hell of sorting out your quirk before the sports festival, you'll need your rest."

Izuku's eyes lit up with determination. He nodded one last time and ran away.

Once he was out of sight, Rumi dropped her head. She took a moment before pulling her cellphone out of her sweater's pocket.

"Shit that hurt," she complained while she swiped through her taxi app.

The woman froze once she saw the pickup location. Her ears slowly flattened as her head flipped from side to side. Under the day's dimming orange light, all that could be seen were trees, walkways and benches.

"…I'm pretty far from the road, aren't I?"

X

"What the heck were you thinking, girl?"

Rumi did her best to avoid Recovery Girl's withering glare. Noticing this, the older woman pressed down on the young hero's healed but sore thigh.

"Watch it!" Rumi shrieked. She abandoned her upright seated position and threw herself onto the infirmary bed. "You're still as much of a devil as I remember!"

"And you're still as cabbage-brained as I remember," was the elder's snappy retort. "You were trying to 'prove a point'? Are you an idiot? Do something like that again and I'll make you walk home. You just might learn your lesson for once."

The mutant huffed and crossed her arms.

"Yeah, yeah. It's not like I see you all the time, right? I saw an opportunity, so I took it. I'm not making a habit of breaking my bones on purpose or anything."

The older woman crossed her arms too as if to mock her. "Good. Now stay put while we wait for your ride to come get you."

Rumi's eyebrows furrowed.

"Ride? What ride? I didn't call a cab yet."

"Why would you need to?"

"…"

"…"

The patient's eyes slowly widened once she started to catch on.

"You didn't–"

The door to the infirmary flew open.

"Are you dumb!?" shouted Shirou disbelievingly before he even managed to fully enter the room.

"Oh would you just shut up!" she shouted right back almost instinctively, throwing the closest object –a pillow– right at his face. It being a bag of fluff, it didn't make it as far as was intended and bounced off his chest harmlessly.

"Why did you call him!?" she shouted. Recovery Girl didn't even bat an eye at the demand.

"Why wouldn't I? He was on his way out anyway."

That's not what I meant and you know it!

Shirou didn't even say anything after that. He just kept staring at her with that pathetic disapproving pout of his. She was sick of it!

"Anyway," Recovery Girl continued, "Feel free to take her away now, Emiya-kun. She'll be fine in a little while, but her leg might still be a little wobbly. Be a dear and help her out, would you?"

"Sure," he agreed easily.

"I can walk just fine," Rumi was quick to say. She stood up to prove her point.

Sure enough, she was back on two feet with little trouble. Her recently injured leg was shuffled around a bit, but nothing seemed to be glaringly wrong with her.

"Don't let her walk more than she has to."

"Got it."

"Wha– don't you dare!"

Too late. The bastard had already picked her up.

"Would you quit squirming?" he complained. "You're making this more difficult than it has to be."

"Put me down!" she whined petulantly. "This makes it seem like you're way bigger than me! Just let me use you as a crutch or something!"

"I am way bigger than you– and using me as a crutch would defeat the whole purpose of keeping off the leg!"

"I can't believe you're–"

The door slammed shut behind them as they left. Thankfully, Recovery Girl wasn't forced to sit through the rest of their argument. The woman rubbed her brow and groaned.

While she didn't exactly tell the boy to pick her up in a bridal carry, that girl didn't have to be so caustic about it.

She dropped onto her chair and slumped over her desk. The woman allowed the cool wooden surface to press against her skin.

"It's not even cute at this point. It's just pathetic," she grumbled to the air. "Someone needs to tell those poor kids to get a life already."

Maybe one day they could work out their relationship like proper adults, but until they decided to grow up, she and everyone else would just have to cross their fingers and pray that they wouldn't have to be subjected to another decade of squabbling and thick-headedness.