Hero Club @thecartoonfanatic01
The Plight of the Popular Girl

A/N: Sorry about the delay, you guys. This could've been posted earlier, but if you've been following my profile, you will know that I came down with an ear infection that left me out of the game for quite a bit. I had it for a few days since the tail-end of 2019, and I think I caught it due to a combination of a seasonal allergy that I caught days earlier and me just liking to scratch my ear-hole with my dirty fingernails. So yeah, it was bad for a bit, and I had to take some medication to make sure I recovered a lot quicker.

Fortunately, the ear pain went away pretty quickly, and now I'm feeling much better, all things considered. I think I still have a little leftover liquid trapped behind my eardrum, but I'm going to sit on that and let it drain naturally for about a couple of months or so before I think about seeing a doctor again. If I learned anything from all the research I did while I was incapacitated, it's nothing too serious, and it should resolve on its own.

Anyway...what a way to start off 2020, am I right?!

Oh, and before we begin, just a little note for everyone to keep in mind: the first couple of scenes for this chapter is set at the same time as the previous chapter.

ENJOY!

P.S.: I hope you all had a Happy New Year's celebration! :D :D :D


"Hero students catch underwear thief. Tch."

Mina Ashido watched from the far end of the cafeteria table as Katsuki Bakugo angrily slid the student newspaper to the other side. A nasty scowl slowly formed on his face as the ashy-blond stared off broodingly into the distance. She could feel an aura of awkwardness hanging over the table, a sensation shared by the other members of her group.

"Hey, man," Neito Monoma said, his smile ever-so-sycophantic as he consolingly patted Katsuki's shoulder. "Don't get too wound up over the otaku and those snobbish, know-it-all nerds he calls friends. Their newfound popularity doesn't even have the remotest chance of eclipsing yours."

"I dunno..." a timid voice said feebly, catching Mina's attention. "Everyone seems to be talkin' about 'em-"

Neito shot the speaker an intimidating look. "Hey, shut it, Amajiki. You're not helping."

Tamaki Amajiki lowered his head so quickly and urgently that he actually slammed his forehead on the table, concerning Mina. However, as it turned out, the impact didn't hurt him one bit, and instead, he moaned out of embarrassment and a little relief at having said his piece.

"I still don't get why Kiri of all people is getting into this, though," Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu snarled. "He's too manly for that bitchy superhero shit."

"Kirishima's just an anomaly," Neito replied boastfully. "You saw how he was after the incident with those three goons. It shook his confidence, and it left him vulnerable to the otaku's influence." With a haughty smirk, he plucked a spoonful of homemade French food from his box and ate it. "But he'll soon see how utterly delusional that Midoriya boy is, and he'll realize he's a whole lot better than that. I guarantee you, in less than 48 hours, Kirishima will be coming back to us."

Mina was about to speak up when someone else did.

"And what about Kaminari and Sero?" Hitoshi Shinso asked. "Kaminari wasn't as shaken by the incident, and yet, he still decided to associate himself with Midoriya. As for Sero, well, he wasn't even there when Bakugo nearly got mugged."

"Y-Ye-Yeah," Tamaki added hesitantly. "H-How do you explain that, Mo-Monoma...?"

"Well," Yuga Aoyama replied with a flick of his blond hair, "Kaminari and Sero are what you would call...idiots..."

Mina silently rolled her eyes at Yuga's demeanor.

"Yeah, they're not smart at all!" added Tetsutetsu. "They're..." He suddenly started straining his mind. "Ohhh, what's the word again...?"

Yuga rolled his eyes. "Idiots?"

"O-Oh." Tetsutetsu started rubbing his chin with his index finger. "Actually, I was thinking of another word, but I couldn't come up with anything else-"

"Ah, will ya halfwits just shut your TRAPS already?!" Katsuki barked. "I don't wanna hear about that useless Midoriya and his stupid lil' misadventures! It's driving me fucking NUTS!"

Mina looked away from the fuming Katsuki with an annoyed sigh and began taking a sip of the grape soda she bought. At first, she spaced out, reflecting on the recent events that culminated in Katsuki reading the school newspaper. Then, the corner of her eye caught a glimpse of green, and her sights zeroed in on that color in an instant.

Izuku Midoriya was sitting at a table on the other side of the school cafeteria, conversing with the members of the Manga & Anime Club and the group led by her class representative, Tenya Iida. Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta were among them. She couldn't hear their conversation, but judging by their own copy of the school's newspaper, they were animatedly talking about what they had done to exonerate Minoru Mineta of a terrible crime.

Upon laying her eyes on Izuku, Mina couldn't help but feel two different yet incomprehensible emotions bubbling within her, battling for dominance over her spirit.

Just then, she watched as the leader of the Manga & Anime Club, Mei Hatsume, sprang forward, like the hyperactive ball of a girl she was, and knocked Tenya to the floor...while kissing him straight on the lips. It was an act witnessed by most of the cafeteria, which was swept over by a wave of awkward silence.

"Well..." Neito whispered, "things just got interesting..."

After about a minute, Mei watched as Tenya forcefully pried Mei off him, tearing her lips away from his. He then started hacking, sputtering, and spitting at the floor in shock while the others continued to watch, flabbergasted.

Thanks to the pregnant silence within the cafeteria, Mina could hear Eijiro's voice. "Wow, man. That was...actually pretty smooth of you right there."

"Wh-Wh-What?!" Tenya snapped. Then, he glared at Mei, who Mina realized was now smiling. "YOU! You made that move without any consent from me!"

"So?" Mei asked obliviously.

"S-So? Th-That is considered sexual assault!"

Mina pursed her lips uncomfortably. Then, in order to distract herself from the conversation, she laid her eyes on Izuku, who was staring at Mei and Tenya with as much stunned shock as everyone else. Once again, the very sight of him left her absolutely conflicted.

On one hand, she felt absolutely grateful for him, and hateful of herself for not catching onto his compassion sooner.

On the other hand, she felt-

"Stupid Deku."

Mina found herself looking back at Katsuki. He too was clearly focused on Izuku; his teeth were gritted as he delivered a searing stare at the green-haired boy. It looked like he was trying to burn the boy alive by sight alone. Her pupils flitted to his hand, which was currently holding a small milk carton; in his anger, Katsuki was unconsciously squeezing down on the half-full carton, causing milk to leak out from the open top.

"He thinks he's got the whole school in his hand now," the baseball player snarled. "That fucking bastard. I will show him who the true king of the school is, one of these days."

Katsuki suddenly crushed the milk carton in his palm, causing milk to jettison out of the plastic container and drench his hand. However, the ashy-blond didn't notice, for he was too preoccupied with the sight of Izuku looking rather happy in the company of friends for once in his life. Mina knew the sight of it was irking him greatly.

"I'll show him!" he snarled even more loudly.

"Yeah, that's the spirit, Bakugo!" Neito cried jovially while patting the ashy-blond on the back.

Mina ground her teeth together and tapped her foot once in impatience. Any emotions that she felt against Izuku quickly dwindled out and was replaced with a combined sense of irritation towards Katsuki and protectiveness towards Izuku, an interesting inversion that she thought she would never experience.

Suddenly, before she could control herself, she blurted out, "You should be more fucking grateful, Bakugo."

In less than a split-second, the ganguro regretted the words that came flying out of her mouth. She felt herself shrinking in the seat as all of her friends trained their sights on her, Katsuki in particular. The ashy-blond slowly stood up from the seat and stared down at her, his eyelid twitching menacingly.

"What the hell did you just say to me, Ashido?" he asked, his voice disturbingly calm and slow.

"N-Nothing-" Mina began. She could already feel the beads of sweat developing on her pores.

"Didn't sound like nothing to me." Katsuki raised an eyebrow. "The fuck are you still doing here anyway?"

Mina felt affronted by those words and the tone of his voice. "Whaddaya mean? This is our table-"

"No, this is my table. You lost the right to share a piece of it since last week."

Mina shot up on her feet and stared daggers into Katsuki's eyes, even if it meant incurring the wrath of the devil. "What the hell are you talking about, Bakugo?!"

"Ohhhhhh, I wonder what...?" Katsuki gritted his teeth. "What was it that you said to me last week, Ashido? 'If you can't appreciate a friend's efforts, then how can I keep being your friend?'"

"Oh, yeah," Mina thought somberly. "I forgot about that...somehow..."

"Why, yes, I remember that too," Yuga replied. His eyes glittered with a pompous vanity that sickened Mina to the pit of her stomach. "You were the first of us to stick up for that garçon fou too."

"Gar..." Mina found herself struggling instantly. "Garsoo... Wh-Wha?"

"Stupid boy," clarified Neito.

"Stupid!" Tetsutetsu suddenly cried from the side. "Yeah, that was the word I was thinking of earlier! Stupid!"

Mina frowned angrily, with the protectiveness taking a hold of her again. "Hey, Midoriya's not stupid!"

"Of course not," growled Katsuki. "He's crazy."

Mina clenched her fists. "He's not crazy either! He's...He's a kind, caring person! I-In fact..." Her bravery began to waver slightly, and an unusual meekness began to show itself. "H-He's p-probably th-the kindest person one would ever meet!"

"The kindest person one would ever meet." Katsuki's eyelid twitched unpleasantly. "HA! HAHA! Are you fucking listening to yourself right now?! What the fuck is making you come up with that shit?!"

"You're my best friend. ...I...I couldn't just leave you like that. No matter what you've done to me. Even if you'll still demean my passion for manga, and call me an otaku and a loser and a defenseless guy, I would still try to save you without asking. I can't make you leave me alone, but I can still care for you."

Mina clenched her fists even tighter at the memory of Izuku's words. "No matter how horrible you are to him, Bakugo... No matter how cruel and demeaning you can be, Midoriya is always going to care for you. You've always been his friend, at least in his eyes-" The ganguro girl lowered her face, trying her best to ignore the alarming flash that passed through Katsuki's deadly hazel eyes. "I...I don't know how he could be so tolerable and supportive of a jackass like you-"

"WHAT?!"

Upon hearing Katsuki's outburst, her mind began to race. "B-But it takes a special kind of friend to put up with someone like you and all their shit, even if that person gives you the cold shoulder, or worse. I...I thought I could be just as strong as Midoriya and try to put up with you, see through all of that hate and volatility and see your good side, but...I guess I was wrong."

"Damn right you're wrong!" Katsuki barked. Then, his lips curved into a sneer. "If you can't appreciate the simple concept of loyalty, then how can I keep considering you a friend?"

Mina slowly looked up at Katsuki and watched as Yuga, Neito, Tetsutetsu, and an ambivalent yet terrified Tamaki joined Katsuki's sides. Hitoshi remained seated for a moment, staring sympathetically at Mina, before reluctantly scooting over to Katsuki's side as well. This effectively left her the only one standing at the opposite end of the table.

With a sharp exhale, Mina grabbed her lunch and walked away.

"Fine!" she snapped irritably. "You keep on being a jerk, Bakugo. You keep up the asshole play. I, on the other hand, am gonna go to eat with friends who actually give a shit about not only each other, but other people as well."

"FINE, THEN!" Katsuki roared after her, startling everyone within earshot, which was a lot of people. "GO ON AND WALK AWAY, ASHIDO! BUT KNOW THIS, YOU ARE NEVER GONNA EAT AT THIS TABLE EVER AGAIN! YOU HEAR ME, YOU LITTLE BITCH?! YOU'RE NEVER GONNA BE SOMEBODY AT THIS SCHOOL EVER AGAIN!"

Mina stopped walking and simply stood there, frozen, with her back facing Katsuki's group. After a minute, however, she continued walking away. Fortunately, she didn't hear anymore outbursts from the arrogant baseball player. Instead, Mina headed towards the table Izuku and his friends were seated at, only to find it completely empty.

"Huh," she thought blankly. "I guess they must've left for...somewhere else..."

Mina wanted to figure out where Izuku and his friends went off to, but another instinct within her, one that soon became known to her, advised her not to. Instead, she departed from the cafeteria and proceeded to wander around the halls for some time, her mind absorbed in a whirlwind of thoughts.

Eventually, she found a girls' restroom. Once she entered and took in its quiet solitude, Mina sighed, leaned over a sink, and stared at herself in the grimy, poorly-maintained mirror. As the seconds flew by, she could feel disbelief washing over her, disbelief over the very words she hurled at Katsuki just a few minutes ago.

"What the hell have I done?" she thought. "I...I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have cut loose from Bakugo. He..." She slowly raised her hands to clutch her face. "He was my only ticket to popularity... If I could've just stuck beside him for a couple more days, then things would've returned to the way they once were, before the incident..."

Then, upon catching herself, Mina slapped her own cheeks. "Don't think like that, Mina! You did the right thing! Bakugo's an asshole and you left as soon as you realized it! You did well, Mina! You did well! You did..." Her eyes narrowed darkly. "Besides...what makes you think things could ever go back to the way they were before?"

As she continued to stare into her own reflection, slightly distorted by the poorly-kept mirror, Mina couldn't help but feel something was wrong. There was a foreign sensation hanging in the air.

"What makes you think you could keep continuing with your life as it was?"

Mina tried to shake off this creeping feeling of discomfort, but it continued to persist and grow like a cancer.

"Your life's over. It's been over for a while."

She suddenly felt her legs shaking.

"You think you're such a master pretender, sucking up to Bakugo and his friends and their antics, manipulating so many people for your own false needs, falling for even your own lies. But now that your eyes have been forced wide open, you of all people should know by now that carrying on is futile. Especially when you want to carry on with a lie you spent so many years crafting in the first place."

Then, Mina began to lean closer to the mirror, guided by some unknown instinct amplified by the dark feeling of uncanny discomfort. She could see her darkened skin, her blonde hair, and her makeup, which made her face glitter brightly and brilliantly.

"Everything's falling apart, Mina. It's all falling apart thanks to Midoriya and what he did... You might as well go with the flow, because nothing can be the same ever again."

It was that moment when she realized why she felt so uncomfortable.

"Whoa! Look, it's Ashido! She's sooooo sexy!"

"Man, what an exotic beauty! That dark skin, those curves, the blonde hair..."

"She looks just like a Hollywood superstar!"

"Damn that Ashido... Always more beautiful than the rest of us..."

"Damn, I wish she was my girlfriend. I'd treat her real good, I tell ya!"

"Come on, sweet cheeks."

Mina suddenly saw a pair of familiar eyes peering over her shoulder, followed by a beefy hand reaching out towards her. With a terrified scream, she punched the mirror so hard it cracked. Then, with a pained cry, she withdrew her hand in a split-second and took a look at it. Her backhand was dashed with scarlet blood seeping out of a considerable-sized cut in-between her knuckles. With gritted teeth, she clutched her hand for a moment, then she grabbed some paper towels and wrapped them around her wound.

Once she was done, she looked behind her, even though she already knew by that point no one else was in the bathroom with her. Finally, she glanced back at the cracked mirror, which distorted her reflection even further. There was a couple of small specks of blood at the origin point of all the cracks.

She took in a deep breath, just as an image of Izuku flashed across her memory. Once again, the ganguro girl could feel her emotions battling amongst one another, as if the very existence of Izuku Midoriya was an enigma in of itself.

With a heavy sigh, she tightened the paper towels wrapped around her hand, then she departed from the bathroom with a trembling hand.


Mina continued walking down the hallway in the direction of the nurse's office, ignoring the strange and concerned looks she got from student she passed by. She took a look at her cut, crudely-bandaged hand and saw that her blood was now beginning to blossom through the paper towels. However, this didn't motivate her to quicken her pace.

"Why don't we just start off with what we did with Mineta?"

Mina stopped, her mind latching onto the familiarity of the voice. She turned and saw it came from the classroom closest to her.

"Kirishima?" she thought.

"What do you mean by that?" another voice asked; she recognized it as belonging to Manzo, one of the Manga & Anime Club members. On instinct, Mina moved closer to the closed doorway of the class.

"Well, think about what happened," Eijiro's voice replied with determination and focus. "First, a crime was committed, which was Mustard breaking into the girls' locker room and stealing all those panties. Second, a suspect was arrested, Mineta. Third, Midoriya felt something was off about the official story, so he dug deeper. Fourth, he recruited us for help, and, well...you know all the rest. So basically, the only reason we're here in the first place was because of that break-in."

"What in the world are they talking about...?" Mina thought, her mind now off the cut on her hand.

"So..." She felt her heart skip a beat at the sound of Izuku's voice. "You're suggesting...we find crimes to solve? Is that what you're saying, Kirishima?"

"Yeah, pretty much!"

"Oh, I get it!" came the loud, excited voice of Mei Hatsume. "So you're thinking we should scour the newspapers for any unsolved crimes, and if we find anything, we look into 'em!"

"Uhhhhh...I didn't have that in mind, but...that's actually a good idea!"

"Alright, then! Hit the newspapers, everyone, 'cause we've got some crimes to solve!"

"Some crimes to solve?" Mina thought, stunned by the diction. "Wh-What kind of conversation did I just eavesdrop on?!"

A split-second later, the school bell rang, surprising Mei, who had to suppress a terrified squeal from escaping her throat. Before she could stop herself, or even evaluate the pros and cons of sticking around, she was already rushing away from the classroom and towards her intended destination.

Upon entering the office, Mina was greeted by a small, elderly woman with squinted eyes and gray hair that was styled into a netted bun. Even though Mina had never seen the school nurse before, the woman's white lab-coat clued her in on who exactly she was looking at right now.

"Oh, my!" the woman exclaimed, her attention diverted from a boy she had been in the process of examining. "Are you alright, my dear? You sure burst in here in a hurry!"

"Y-Ye-Yeah..." Mina replied bashfully, trying her best to ignore the blossoming blush on the boy's face that was no doubt sparked by her presence. "I-I, uhhh..." She meekly raised her bandaged hand. "I cut my hand. O-On some glass."

"Ohhhh my, indeed you did! Here, sit down here." The nurse patted the bed next to the boy's. "Put the pressure on that wound, and I'll get right back to you in just a quick second."

The nurse went to her personal cabinet in a hurry, while Mina followed her instructions, holding her bandaged hand more tightly. She strolled over to the bed next to the one the boy was sitting on and sat down on it. The ganguro took a quick look at her new companion; he had surprisingly pale skin; chin-length, spiky beige hair; and an aura around his face that would've been sinister if it hadn't been for the blush on his cheeks.

And unfortunately, rather than look elsewhere in the office, the boy continued to maintain his gaze on Mina, causing her to feel uncomfortable. She fidgeted awkwardly on her own bed, wondering if the wound she sustained wasn't bad enough so it could be treated right away and allow her to leave the office in an instant.

To Mina's relief, only a couple of seconds had passed when Shuzenji returned with a small first-aid kit, a magnifying glass that glinted from the lights on the ceiling, and several new scraps of paper towel.

"Here, honey," the nurse offered, taking Mina's hand. "Let me see that cut..."

She carefully unwrapped the paper towel from Mina's skin, and the ganguro winced from the resulting stinging sensation. Once her hand was fully exposed for Shuzenji to see, the nurse blinked with surprise.

"Oh, my," she said. "That's quite a cut, my dear. You're lucky it wasn't any deeper and on a more vital part of your body."

"Ah," Mina replied, distracted by the unsettling focus she continued to receive from the pale boy.

"Well, it's a good thing I have these in handy."

Shuzenji placed the first-aid kit beside Mina's thigh and opened it up. She first retrieved a minuscule, plastic bottle full of liquid and with a dropper for its lid. Mina eyed it with curiosity and noticed its label: 'DISINFECTANT'. However, Shuzenji didn't use this bottle; instead, she procured a second bottle of a similar size, turned the lid slightly, aimed the dropper at Mina's cut, and squeezed carefully.

"This is gonna sting a little, honey," the nurse warned gently.

With that, Shuzenji began spraying harmless cold water over the wound, cleansing it of the semi-dried blood that caked it, all the while using the same paper towels to absorb the water before it could drip onto the mattress of the bed. It only took a few seconds for the wound to be entirely cleaned, and Mina watched as the crimson color started to flower all over the area again.

That was when Shuzenji took the disinfectant bottle, turned its lid, and aimed its own dropper at Mina's bleeding cut.

"Now this is gonna sting, honey," Shuzenji advised. "Don't move around too much."

A droplet of the liquid bloomed out of the dropper and fell onto the cut, triggering a brand-new sensation that Mina had never felt before. Stinging was an inaccurate term to describe it; instead, it was a small but searing feeling, like Mina had placed part of her hand directly over a flame and burned it.

She bit her lower lip and suppressed a moan of agony as the nurse began applying more of the disinfectant over her cut, taking great care as she progressed along. In the corner of her eye, Mina noticed the same pale boy staring at her, which made her wonder if he had been entranced by her beauty or was staring out of concern...or perhaps something else?

Fortunately, it didn't take long for Shuzenji to be done. Once she used the new paper towels to spread the disinfectant all over the wound, the nurse used the magnifying glass to inspect it. Occasionally, she would pepper it with the paper towel whenever the blood began to leak again.

"Tell me, dear," Shuzenji said, "how'd you cut your hand like that?"

"I told you," Mina replied irritably. "I cut it on-"

"Some glass, yes, yes, you told me that, honey." Shuzenji was undaunted by Mina's tone and attitude, and instead, she continued idly examining the cut. "I've worked here ever since this school first opened."

"Oh, great." The ganguro rolled her eyes. "A boomer."

Shuzenji still remained calm. "I have seen many cuts on many students in my life...so I have enough experience to know that this isn't a cut that you get when you try to pick up a shard of glass, or when you slip and take a nasty fall down the steps. No..." She abruptly paused. "This was an unintentional by-product of..." She adjusted her magnifying glass while zeroing her sights in on one particular spot of the cut. "A fit of high emotion of some kind..."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"You punched some glass out of anger or frustration or distress."

Mina blinked with surprise. In her peripheral vision, she could see the pale boy staring at her with awe and surprise. Her face turned with red with embarrassment.

"I-I did no-" she began.

"You have a small piece of glass still embedded in the cut, my dear."

Mina felt her heart stop in horror. "I-I do?!"

"Mm-hm." Shuzenji pointed at the area of Mina's skin between her knuckles, and everyone could see a minuscule object that glittered with the light. "Over there. You don't get it there unless you apply a lot of force into it." She put away the magnifying glass and reached into the kit again. "And since that piece of glass in in your knuckle, I can only assume you got it by punching the glass."

"O-Oh..." Mina lowered her head, feeling a little humiliated at being exposed like that in front of one of her schoolmates. "Y-Yeah... I-I guess I did..."

"You guess?" Shuzenji arched an eyebrow as she procured a bottle of rubbing alcohol. "My dear, how do you guess that?"

"Y-You could say it was...u-unintentional..."

"Unintentional?" The nurse applied some of the rubbing alcohol onto the wound, causing Mina to flinch from the stinging sensation. "Would you mind telling me about it?"

Mina looked away, only to find herself looking at the pale boy, so she looked the other way.

"What's there to tell you about?" she asked.

"Perhaps there's nothing to tell...or perhaps there's everything to tell." Shuzenji put away the rubbing alcohol bottle and grabbed some tweezers. "Either way, do know that I'm here to listen to your problems, honey."

"Heh, yeah right." Mina rolled her eyes sardonically. "You're not a psychologist."

"No, no, I'm not. The school can't afford one, anyway. But I am a listener."

With that, Shuzenji started lightly groping at the exposed cut with the tweezers, trying her best to get a good grip on the tiny piece of glass. Mina bit her lower lip at the ensuing nuisance that was the dulled prickling sensation, but she did not look away and instead watched as Shuzenji carefully poked around the area where the glass was.

After half a minute of silence, Mina blurted out, "I'm having problems."

"At home or at school?" Shuzenji asked without looking up.

"School. It's...my friends..."

"Ah, yes. The social life of a teenager can be full of complications. But you can always resolve them as long as everyone is willing to talk and listen to one another."

Mina sighed glumly. "Not in my case..."

"Nonsense. What kind of friend is unwilling to listen and talk to you?"

"Katsuki Bakugo."

It wasn't Mina who spoke, however. Shuzenji cast a quick glance at the pale boy next to them.

"What're you talking about, Honenuki?" she asked.

"I know her," the boy replied. "She's friends with Katsuki Bakugo."

"Bakugo?" Shuzenji tutted, and Mina couldn't tell if it was out of disapproval or something else. "I see now..."

"Wait, you know Bakugo?" Mina asked, surprised.

"Of course, my dear. Who do you think treated his leg after last season's game?"

Mina blinked with surprise, and the memory of Katsuki overstretching his leg muscles while scoring an almost-impossible home-run returned to her mind.

"My, that kid was a wild one," Shuzenji continued almost absentmindedly, just as she finally got a good grip on the glass. "Loud, headstrong, and fiercely independent. Would never admit there was a problem with him even if it cost him his life. Very hard to talk to."

"Yep," Mina replied, stunned by the accurate description. "That's, uhhh... That's Bakugo alright- ACK!" Her injured hand twitched suddenly, and she struggled to not tear it away from the nurse's grasp. "Hey!"

"Sorry, dear." Shuzenji walked away from Mina and released her grip on the tweezers, allowing the small piece of glass to fall into the trashcan. "Fortunately, that was the only glass that I could find in there. Allow me to bandage you up..." She walked back to her cabinet and took out some bandages. "What's your name, dear?"

"A-Ashido. M-Mina Ashido."

"Ashido." Shuzenji returned and started bandaging the ganguro's hand. "Tell me, Ashido, how's Bakugo-kun doing these days?"

"H-Huh?" Mina blinked with surprise, but she earnestly replied, "H-He's doing alright, I-I guess. S-Same old Bakugo..."

"Same old?" The nurse suddenly, somberly shook her head. "Oh, dear..."

Mina's eyebrows shot up with curiosity. "Why? Whaddaya mean 'oh, dear'?"

Shuzenji paused and looked up at the girl. Even though her eyes were squinted, Mina could feel the genuine concern that was radiating through the droopy, nearly shut eyelids.

"You mean...he didn't tell you...?" she asked.

"Tell me?" Mina repeated. "Tell me what? What, did he tell you something?"

Shuzenji hesitated for a brief moment, then she resumed bandaging Mina's hand. "Never mind. I should never have said that-"

"Why? What'd Bakugo tell you?" Then, Mina's jaw dropped open in surprise. "W-Wait a minute, you got Bakugo to talk to you?!"

"Shuzenji-san can make anyone spill their guts out," the pale boy said. "It's like a supernatural ability of hers."

"Just because I said he was very hard to talk to doesn't mean I couldn't get him to talk," added Shuzenji. She finished up Mina's hand, cut the tape away from the roll, and walked back to the cabinet again. "Ashido, my dear, I'm afraid I cannot tell you what he confided in me. I think I've said enough."

"Why?!" Mina cried with disbelief. "Why can't you tell me?!"

Shuzenji continued to have her back on Mina as she spoke. "If you truly want to find out for yourself, talk to Bakugo-kun, Ashido. But you should tread carefully if you wish to solve your conflict with him."

"Yeah..." Mina sighed upon recalling Katsuki's parting words to her. "I don't think that's gonna happen..."

"Well, I don't know what else to tell you, Ashido, other than I'm not in a good position to tell you." Shuzenji walked back over to Mina and handed her a slip of paper. "Here. Give this to your teacher once you return to class. Your wound should heal up normally, but contact emergency services if and when there's a problem."

Mina stared at the nurse for a few moments, unsure whether she should continue pressing or not. After a while, she took the paper slip from Shuzenji's hand.

"Okay..." she replied.

"I hope you and Bakugo-kun make amends. You seem like a nice girl, and I'm aware of his reputation as a...womanizer, if you will."

"H-Huh?!" Mina started waving her hands while blushing furiously. "N-No, i-it's not like that!"

"They're just platonic friends," the boy clarified. "Or rather, she's more like one of his lackeys."

Shuzenji stared at him flatly. "Are you still here, Honenuki-kun?" she asked. "Do I need to treat you for anything else?"

"No, Shuzenji-san," the pale boy replied.

"Then scram. You've got class to go to."

"Y-Yes, Shuzenji-san..."

The boy, Honenuki, stood up and started to stroll out of the office. However, before he could reach the door and leave, he heard Shuzenji call out to him.

"And remember what I told you about pushing yourself," the nurse said compassionately. "You're not Superman, after all. You know that, right Honenuki-kun?"

"I know, I know..."

Shuzenji then stared at Mina. "You get going too, Ashido."

"O-Okay..."

She prepared to leave when Shuzenji called out to her. "But before you leave, Ashido, please know this: whatever kind of relationship you have with Bakugo, you can do better than that."

Mina stared at Shuzenji for a moment, trying to dissect those ambiguous words. Then, she followed Honenuki out of the office. Once the two were back in the hall, Mina looked over her shoulder in time to see Shuzenji closing the door behind them. She stood there for a moment, pondering over what she had just learned from the nurse.

"So," a voice said, "you're having problems with Bakugo."

Mina looked back in front of her and saw Honenuki still standing there. He was wearing a scornful expression, which was amplified by the sinister aura that hung over him.

"Can't say I'm tearing up over it," he said.

"Gee, thanks," Mina replied sarcastically. Then, she scanned him from head to toe. "So...you're Juzo Honenuki."

"Who's asking?"

"Monoma's talked about you on occasion." She scanned him again, and this time, she felt a cold shiver run up her spine. "Gotta say, you're even creepier in person."

"And you look even more fake in person."

"Fake?!" Mina put her hands on her hips. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?!"

"Look at you. Blonde hair, tan skin, flashy accessories, skimpy clothing when you're not in school. Clearly that's not what you've always looked like. Oh, and before you give me a line of crap about how you're comfortable this way or something corny like that, know this: that's Bakugo and his standards talking, not you..." Then, Juzo took a deep breath. "Well, but at least you've clearly seen through his bullshit. I hear rumors that Kirishima and a couple others have ditched his crew too. Frigging Kirishima, man. Isn't the guy gay for Bakugo or somethin'?"

"No, not really," Mina spat, becoming increasingly restless at Juzo's attitude.

"Well, either way, it's good to know Bakugo's whole gig is falling apart." Then, Juzo scowled and stared down the hallway. "To be perfectly honest...he should've gotten it a whole lot worse when he nearly mugged. Serves him right for being an asshole to those he thinks are underneath him."

Mina narrowed her eyes as memories of the incident with the three crooks returned to her mind.

"You don't have a high opinion of Bakugo, do you?" she asked, struggling to contain her anger.

"Whaddaya think?" Juzo gritted his teeth. "That fucking retard Midoriya should never have saved him- OOF!"

The pale boy was knocked to the floor. Shocked, he held up a palm to his aching jaw, watching as a wincing Mina shook her uninjured hand. The two stared at each other for a long while, with Mina's face etched with rage while Juzo was left utterly speechless.

Eventually, Mina realized what she did and walked away as fast as she could. Fortunately, she didn't hear Juzo calling out to Shuzenji; instead, she felt his eyes boring down on her back like drills. Once again, she could feel a shiver creeping up her spine.


"Ashido, my dear, I'm afraid I cannot tell you what he confided in me. I think I've said enough."

"If you truly want to find out for yourself, talk to Bakugo-kun, Ashido. But you should tread carefully if you wish to solve your conflict with him."

"Well, I don't know what else to tell you, Ashido, other than I'm not in a good position to tell you."

"What did she mean by that? What did Bakugo confide in Shuzenji-san...?"

As Kayama continued to drone aimlessly about the humanities, Mina looked over her shoulder and saw Katsuki, who was staring absentmindedly at the teacher with pursed lips and a furrowed brow. She knew that look: he was thinking about her recent departure from his clique and how he was going to get back at her somehow. Then, their eyes suddenly met, and he flashed his gritted teeth at her, prompting the ganguro girl to refocus on Kayama's lecture.

Mina tried her best to listen, but after a couple of seconds, she wound up being absorbed in her own thoughts again.

"I can't talk to Bakugo about what he might've told Shuzenji. Not only am I trying to pry into his personal life, something he'd rather not talk about, but I left his circle voluntarily! I called him an asshole and a jackass on the way out too! I am pretty much dead in his eyes. All the more reason for me to try and avoid the topic. But...Bakugo? Spilling his guts out? Gotta admire Shuzenji-san for touching the right nerves. Whatever he told him must've been very important, very raw... I gotta figure out what exactly that is, but...how...?"

"You're my best friend."

On instinct, Mina gazed towards Izuku's desk, where the green-haired boy was busy scribbling stuff in his notebook, his mouth moving almost imperceptibly as he muttered to himself. He was clearly focused on the task at hand, unlike many of the other students, who were drowsy with boredom.

As soon as she laid her eyes on Izuku, one single thought crossed Mina's mind.

"I can talk to Midoriya! I can..."

Her thoughts trailed off, and she was forced to clench her fists tightly with determination while she suppressed her other, more brooding thoughts about Izuku.


Mina leaned against the side of the doorway, watching as the rest of her class poured out of the room and filled the halls. She was hoping to see Izuku, preferably without the company of their nerdy, judgmental class representative and all his friends. The ganguro couldn't help but shudder at the thought of having to interact with him while trying to get Izuku to talk to her.

"Hopefully I see Iida and his pals walk outta here without Midoriya," Mina thought. "I may have helped them catch that perv Mustard, but...Iida's still a nerd. I still can't handle the sight of nerds."

Just then, Katsuki stepped out of the room, followed closely by Yuga. She froze on the spot as his eyes landed upon her.

"Traitor..." he spat bitterly before walking off. Yuga stayed behind for a few moments to shake his head disapprovingly at her and tutting before loyally following the ashy-blond.

Once the two were gone, Mina leaned against the wall again and buried her face in her palms.

"Ohhhh, what's the use?" she thought. "Whatever Bakugo's hiding, it can't be all that good. And...if he finds out that I've been snooping around in his personal life, he'll shut me out even more! Or worse, he'll ruin my life, make it a living hell!"

She gritted her teeth in rage and disgust as she dug her face deeper into her palms. "Argh! Who the hell am I kidding? If I know I can't get to the bottom of this, then what was the point?! No, wait! There was a point to this, wasn't there?! I'm not doing this out of pure curiosity, am I?! I'm just doing this because I'm hoping I'll make Bakugo feel better somehow, and then he will bring me back into his group! That's it, isn't it, Mina?! You...You don't give a flying fuck about Bakugo or Midoriya! You're just concerned about yourself...as usual! Fucking hell, you're fucking STUPID, Mina!"

"Ashido?"

Mina lifted her face from her palms and saw Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta standing in front of her.

"O-Oh!" Mina replied while trying to compose herself. "H-Hey, Kirishima-"

"Were...Were you crying, Ashido?" Eijiro asked, stunned.

"What?! Me, crying! HA! What the hell makes you think that-"

"You've got runny makeup all of your cheeks," interrupted Hanta.

"Oh, the makeup?! W-Well, i-it does that sometimes!"

"Sometimes?"

"This is the first time I've ever seen that happen-" began Denki.

"Well, it happens, alright?!" snapped Mina. "So just drop it, you guys! 'Kay?! Will you please frigging drop it?!"

"Okay, okay! We'll drop it! Jeez!"

While Denki and Hanta backed off from Mina, Eijiro remained. He looked towards the doorway in curiosity.

"So..." he said, "who're you waiting for, Ashido?"

"No one," Mina replied while snobbishly sticking up her chin.

The redheaded boy looked at her, unconvinced. "It's Midoriya, isn't it?"

Mina's face turned cherry-red in an instant. "Mi-Midoriya?! Wh-What makes you think that?!"

"Well, you weren't with us during lunch, and I figured you'd be with us since you broke off with Bakugo and helped us..." Eijiro's voice trailed off as soon as Mina looked away sadly. "Ohhh... I touched a nerve, didn't I...?"

"Gee, whaddaya think...?"

Eijiro blinked before taking a step closer. "Yo, Ashido... Mind telling me what happened...?"

"Nothing happened, alright?! Didn't I tell you to frigging drop it, idiot?"

"You told us to drop the bit about your makeup. You did not tell us to drop any other topic." Then, Eijiro took a slow step backward out of caution. "But if you don't wanna-"

Overburdened by irritation, confusion, and anger, Mina finally snapped. "Look, Bakugo kicked me out, alright?! THERE! Ya happy now, Kirishima?!"

Eijiro stood there, stunned. "Ba-Bakugo...kicked you out?"

"I...I tried hanging out with him again, but...h-he wouldn't have it..." Mina sniffled and wiped her nose. "He and all of the others pretty much treated me like shit and forced me away. That's why I wasn't with you guys during lunch."

"Jeez Louise, Ashido," Denki said from the side. "Why the hell did you- OOF!"

Hanta lowered his elbow as he remarked, "Look, don't worry about it, Ashido. We're still your friends. We can still hang-"

"No, man!" Denki interrupted suddenly. "Not yet! We gotta get our Hero Club affairs straight first!"

Mina stared at the two boys incredulously. "Hero Club?" she asked. "What the hell is Hero Club?"

Eijiro and Hanta both shot accusatory glares at Denki before the former replied, "N-Nothing! It's-It's nothing, Ashido! It's some, uh, s-some dumb show that Kaminari got into very recently!"

However, Mina stared at the trio of boys, totally unconvinced.

"So... You're suggesting...we find crimes to solve? Is that what you're saying, Kirishima?"

"I wonder if this Hero Club thing is what Midoriya was talking about with Kirishima..." she thought.

Just then, once the last of the students poured out of the classroom, Mina heard a familiar voice call out cheerfully, "Hey, Midoriya!"

"Great." For some reason, Mina ground her teeth together while refraining from furiously scratching the wall behind her, an act that Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta noticed. "That chubby bitch Uraraka is talking to him. I bet she has the hots for him. She's always so supportive of him and-and stuff. Stupid round-cheeked bitch..." Then, she blinked in surprise at her own thoughts. "GAH! The fuck am I thinking?!"

"Oh!" Mina couldn't help but imagine Izuku's smile as he spoke. "Hey, guys!"

"We lost track of you during lunch!" Ochako replied. "Where'd you and the others run off to?"

"W-Well, uhhh... W-We had to settle some final things..."

"Well that's clearly a lie," Denki whispered to Hanta, who nodded with a cheeky grin.

"We're going to hold a studying session in the library nearby," Momo said. "Do you want to come with us, Midoriya?"

"The math test is next week," added Tenya, "and it's not good for you academically should you fail it."

Mina rolled her eyes. "Obviously."

Then, to her surprise, she heard Izuku reply, "S-Sorry, you guys. I have to get home right away. M-My mom needs me f-for something."

"Oh," Ochako replied with slight disappointment. Then, her voice became bubbly again. "Hey, maybe we should walk you home! We should get to know your mom a lil' more! We barely saw her at the hospital-"

"S-Sorry, you guys," Izuku interrupted. "Sh-She's not in the mood f-for guests right now. Bu-But I'll invite you guys over some other time! I promise!"

"Oh." Mina could read the suspicion in Ochako's voice. "O-Okay."

"Whatever matter your mom needs attending to," added Tenya, "I hope it is not too burdening, and that it is resolved in a quick, orderly manner."

"Th-Thank you, Iida," Izuku replied gratefully. "I'm-I'm sure it's nothing."

"Hopefully! After all, you need to make sure your academics are dealt with as well! Your chances of graduating from this school are what's most important, after all!"

Mina rolled her eyes again. "Of course Iida would rationalize his concern with studying. Typical geek."

"Okay," Ochako said. "Well, we'll see you tomorrow, Midoriya!"

"O-Okay! B-Bye, guys!"

Several seconds later, Mina tensed up when five students exited the classroom. Of course, there was Ochako, Tenya, and Momo, but accompanying them were Shoto and Yui. She tried looking away but they already noticed her presence beside Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta.

"Ashido?" Ochako asked, surprised. "What're you doing here? You're never one to stick behind when school ends."

"H-Huh?!" Mina looked at the quintet with a blushing face. "No-Nothing! I'm-I'm not doin' anything s-suspicious o-or an-anything like th-that!"

The chestnut-haired girl blinked, then she looked into the classroom. In that moment, Mina knew she was looking toward Izuku in concern. She was about to bring that up when Eijiro did instead.

"Look, guys!" The redhead defensively stepping between the ganguro and Tenya. "I can vouch for her! She's not here to do anything shady to Midoriya! Promise!"

None of the, responded, worrying Mina. Then, with a tight-lipped face and a straight posture, Tenya stepped forward and, with his eyeglasses glinting...held out his hand. The ganguro eyed it warily, as if she feared the class representative was going to use it against her as a weapon.

"I didn't see you at all during lunch," the class representative said. "But I just wanted to thank you for your assistance in detaining Mustard for the authorities. You were the first of Bakugo's friends to leave him in favor of the greater good. For that action, you have gained my respect."

Mina was taken aback by Tenya's words. "O-Oh..." she replied while trying to push away the memories of Katsuki's angry face. "Y-You're welcome..." She swallowed. "It... I-It had to be done-"

"Ashido," Momo said, "we know you risked your friendship with Bakugo, and your popularity in school, to help us out. It must've not been easy for you."

To Izuku's surprise, a dark, ambiguous expression filled Mina's face. "Well, to be honest," she responded, "it was easier than I expected..."

"Either way, I'm grateful to know you have decided to make a change for the better."

Mina sighed and lowered her face slightly. "Yeah. A...A change for the better..."

There was a short, awkward silence, during which Tenya stared at Mina with slight concern. Then...

"Ashido?"

Mina looked back up at the bespectacled boy. "Y-Yeah?"

"Why don't we walk you home?"

The ganguro's eyes widened. "You guys...walking me home?"

"Oh, yes!" Ochako suddenly exclaimed in a chipper voice. "That sounds like a great idea, Iida!"

"Come with us, Ashido," Momo added, giving the other girl a gentle smile. "We insist."

Mina stared at Ochako, Tenya, Momo, Shoto, and Yui, her eyes trembling apprehensively. Then, she turned toward Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta.

"They...They all wish to be my...my friends...?" she thought with perplexity. "Even after everything we've been through? Even after all the things I've called them in the past? This...This is too good to be true..."

"GO ON AND WALK AWAY, ASHIDO! BUT KNOW THIS, YOU ARE NEVER GONNA EAT AT THIS TABLE EVER AGAIN! YOU HEAR ME, YOU LITTLE BITCH?! YOU'RE NEVER GONNA BE SOMEBODY AT THIS SCHOOL EVER AGAIN!"

With pursed lips, she shook her head.

"N-No thanks," she said. "I actually have to talk to Midoriya." She zeroed her sights in on Eijiro. "A-About something."

In the corner of her eye, Mina could see Denki and Hanta looking at one another in worry.

"S-Sa-Same with us!" stuttered a hesitant Denki.

"O-Oh." Ochako was surprised by the responses, as were Tenya and Momo. "Well...i-if you say so, Ashido."

"We will respect your wishes and be on our way, then," Tenya said with a brief nod. Then, he glared at Denki and Hanta, both of whom cowered under his visage. "You two, please watch yourselves with Midoriya. As your class representative, and a friend of Midoriya's, I expect you two will be on your best behavior."

"Wh-Why're you talking to us like we're still the enemy!" Denki cried with disbelief.

"Yeah!" added Hanta. "I thought we were cool, you guys!"

"It's alright, Iida," Eijiro piped up before Tenya could respond. "I'll keep an eye on 'em."

"Thank you for your generosity, Kirishima," the class representative replied. "And you four, please make sure all of your matters with Midoriya are quick. I'm not sure if any of you are aware of it, but he needs to get home quickly. His mother is requesting his assistance as soon as possible."

Eijiro nodded. "Sure thing, Iida. We'll make it quick."

Tenya nodded back at him before leaving. Momo and Shoto followed him while Ochako and Yui stayed behind for a brief moment.

"Remember, Kaminari, Sero," Ochako said accusingly, "Midoriya's my friend, and he'll tell me if you've still been treating him in any way!"

"Okay, okay!" Denki cried with his hands raised. "Chill, girl! We're not gonna do anything!"

Ochako scowled at him and Hanta before turning around on her heel and walking away. Yui delivered one parting stare of cold, chilling suspicion before stiffly turning around and following her cousin. Once the quintet was out of earshot, Denki and Hanta turned to one another.

"What the hell, man?!" exclaimed Hanta.

"Yeah!" Denki replied. "After all we did for 'em, they're still such big geeky dicks!"

"Frigging hell, why should we give a flying fuck about what they have to say about Midoriya?!"

Their conversation was cut off by Mina's angry sigh. They looked at him and saw the ganguro was shaking her head with disappointment.

"To be honest, you two," she said, "it's because you're being suck-ups."

"Suck-ups?!" Denki snapped. "What the hell is that supposed to mean, Ashido?!"

"It means you stick with whoever's the biggest and baddest kid in this school at the moment!"

"I know what it means! But what exactly are you trying to say?!"

"Last month, you two were following Bakugo like faithful dogs with their owner. But ever since Midoriya sa-saved us from those...those pervs, you've been trying to stick beside him. It's like Bakugo never existed to you two in the first place!"

"Hey, we are NOT suck-ups!" Hanta cried. "We...We just decided to turn over a new leaf-"

"Overnight? Just like that?" Mina rolled her eyes. "Yeah, you guys sure saw the light."

"Yeah, well, look who's talking!" Denki replied angrily. "You were just as quick to start lickin' Midoriya's ass as the rest of us! And it's like what Four-Eyes said! You were the first of us to do so-"

"Well, at least I have a really good reason to change my opinion of Midoriya."

"He saved you just like the rest of us! What the hell is the difference supposed to be?!"

Mina opened her mouth and tried to speak, but her voice was suddenly trapped in her throat. She stared at Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta in rising fear, Denki's words having triggered something in her. She could feel the hallway growing colder and damper, with the darkness creeping in from every corner and threatening to consume her. And most of all, Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta were slowly transforming into-

"Ashido?"

Pulled back into reality, Mina shook her head and quickly felt a source of radiating warmth beside her. Looking, she saw it was Izuku, who had finally finished packing up his things and left the room. She could feel her face slowly burn up as she tried to recompose herself.

"Y-Yeah, th-that's me..." The ganguro girl flashed him an awkward smile. "L-Listen, I, uhhh...I-I wanted to talk to you a-about something... I-If that's alright with you!"

Izuku tensed up with caution for a moment before replying, "S-Sure. Wh-What'd you wanna talk about?"

Mina opened her mouth to speak, but only a decibel made it out before someone else spoke up.

"MIDORIYA, BUDDY!"

Izuku yipped in surprise as a blur of pink burst through the mass of students walking down the halls. Mina could only be flabbergasted as the same blur slapped Izuku's shoulder with so much unintended force that the green-haired boy nearly fell over.

"Hatsume?!" Izuku squeaked.

The otaku girl saluted. "That's me! And I must say, today's club meeting went off without a hitch! Honest opinion, I truly think everyone's gonna get into this in no time! Oh, by the way, I love the rules you wrote!"

"Rules...?" Mina asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

Mei whipped her head around and spotted Mina standing there. "Oh! Who're you?"

Mina blinked twice. "You...You don't remem-?"

"Ohhh, I remember you now!" interrupted Mei as her eyes shone with realization. "You're one of the girls who helped me and Midoriya catch Mustard! You were the oversensitive one, right?!"

"Y-Y-Yes, I-" Mina finally fully processed Mei's words. "Wait, oversensitive?!"

Sensing a confrontation, Izuku decided to intervene. "S-So, uh, Ha-Hatsume, wh-what're you doing here?"

"I was just thinkin' 'bout what Shoda said!" Mei replied. Then, she looked at Eijiro, Denki, and Hanta. "'Bout how the Shie Hassaikai likes to-" She stopped and turned her head towards Mina. "Um, would you mind giving us some space, please? This is private club biz!"

"Private club-?" began Mina, before Denki's words returned to her memory.

"Not yet! We gotta get our Hero Club affairs straight first!"

"Ohhhhh, so this is what you guys were talking about earlier!" the ganguro exclaimed. "You guys made a new club called the Hero Club, right?"

Mei froze and slowly looked at Mina. "What...?" she asked.

"W-Well, Kaminari mentioned your club name earlier," Mina replied.

Mei immediately shot Denki a deadly glare of silent outrage, prompting the blond to begin nervously tugging at his collar. As for Eijiro and Hanta, the two looked away awkwardly.

"A-And..." Mina continued, her voice becoming more bashful with every word, "I, uh...I kinda happened upon your room during lunch and eavesdropped on the last part of your conversation..."

"The last part of our conversation?" Izuku asked. Then, his eyes widened with shock and uncertainty. "You...Yo-You mean the part where we talk about-?"

"Finding crimes to solve," interrupted Mina. "I-I mean...th-that's what I think I heard." She looked around, feeling the air becoming even more awkward by the passing second. "Uhhh, pl- please tell me I heard that wrong..."

Mei stood there, digesting Mina's revelation. Then, after taking a perfunctory glance into the classroom, she sprang forth, grabbed Mina by the wrist, and half-dragged her further down the school hal, with the boys following them.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Mina cried while struggling. "Hey, hey, what'd I do?! The hell did I do?!"

This prompted Mei to stop...and pin Mina against the wall with her forearm. Izuku and Eijiro gasped and ran over to Mei, grabbing her and trying to pry her off of Mina. As for Denki and Hanta, they joined a few other students in watching the entire scene unfold with an awkward, almost perverse joy.

"Tell me," Mei said in a menacing whisper, "how much did you hear?"

"L-Like I told you! Y-You guys were saying something about finding crimes to solve!" Then, Mina's eyes widened. "Is...Is this some detective club or something?!"

Mei shrugged casually. "Eh, sorta." Then, her aggressively defensive facade reappeared with a vengeance. "What else did you hear?!"

"I-I don't know! I-"

"You said you listened in on the last part of our club meeting! When exactly did you walk in?! What's the first thing that you heard?!"

"Hatsume, calm down!" Izuku cried in a low but distressed voice as he kept trying to pull Mei away.

"I can't, Midoriya! The secrecy of the..." Mei eyed the onlookers before lowering her voice. "The secrecy of the Hero Club is at stake here!"

"W-Well, it won't be at stake, 'c-'cause Ashido will join!"

"Wait, what?" Eijiro asked, stunned enough by Izuku's declaration that he stopped trying to pry Mei away from Mina.

As for Mina, she watched as Izuku continued to speak, his words seemingly guided by split-second-long decisions.

"I vouch for her, Hatsume! She can join the Hero Club! She'll join!" The boy then looked straight at her with his stunning viridescent eyes. "Won't you, Ashido?"

"Uhhhhh..." Mina was at a loss for words. "W-Well, I...I, uhhhhh..."

"Well?" Mei asked, her roughhousing subsiding in an instant.

"W-Well..." Mina thought, her mind racing as she pondered her next decision. "If it means getting a chance to speak with Midoriya in private, 'cause it seems like his time is gonna be preoccupied by these guys..."

The ganguro didn't waste anymore time, and she blurted out, "Okay, yes! I'll join!"

Mei blinked slowly, then she released Mina, allowing her to breathe a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, the otaku girl shot a glare towards the onlookers, prompting them to resume whatever it was they were doing. Once they realized the situation had been resolved, Denki and Hanta joined up with the others.

"I didn't hear that last part!" Hanta said. "What happened?"

Mei ignored his query. Instead, she faced Mina and saluted respectfully.

"Congratulations! You have just been accepted into the Hero Club, the place where ordinary, mild-mannered high-school students gather to become crime-fighters!"


A/N: Well, that marks the end of this chapter! So, after spending an entire chapter without Mina, I am making up for all that lost time with an entire chapter dedicated to showing Mina's point-of-view of things! And it looks like the Hero Club might already have itself a new member!

Also...what dark secret could Bakugo be hiding...?

Now, I'd like to thank the following for reviewing:

-MarvelNinja10:

1) Yes, Mei definitely put the moves on Tenya...literally! Too bad it was just meant to be a diversionary tactic...or was it? ;)

2) Well, judging by what Mei was about to say, it looks like the Hero Club is about to have another crime on their hands, one that they need to fight!

3) No, Hitoshi won't enter the picture just yet, but he will soon!

4) Yeah, I know what you're talking about. I've seen a number of good Izuku-in-Class-1-B AU fics that I really enjoy yet are seldom updated, if ever. It really ticks me off to no end. Fortunately, if all goes well, I'll have enough reading material to cover, at minimum, the entire first season of the anime, but from a Class 1-B perspective. Plus, I'll be tackling another rare-pair for Izuku. Well, it is not exactly a rare-pair, seeing as there's a considerable following, but I'm hoping my work will help it become more mainstream. ;)

-xnickyx123: If you were really interested in this fic, then maybe you could do me a favor and be more in-depth in your next review (as in, the review you're going to post for this chapter). What did you like about the chapter? What did you not like? Any comments or beliefs that I should know about? Any questions you might have? I'm sorry if it sounds like I am asking too much from you, but this is a rule of mine that applies to all my readers and reviewers. In-depth feedback of any kind is appreciated, because I personally can't settle for perfunctory compliments such as "Good job" or "I liked this chapter" or the dreaded "Please update". Maybe if I was still fifteen years old, I would've, but 24-year-old university student me...not so much.

-Raizen1125:

1) Honestly, you should see my fics "The Way We Will Be" and "Fate/Rule Zero". I haven't updated those in months! It's all just a matter of preference. XD

2) Sorry about the absence of IzuMina in the last chapter. Hopefully this chapter alleviates your concerns. If it didn't, the next chapter will definitely take the cake. :)

3) "Untrained teenagers taking on a massive criminal organization." Yes, because that has gone well before, am I right? XD Joking aside, you're going to see some deconstruction going on down the road...

-Mr. Albatross (guest reviewer):

1) Hey! Thank you for your honesty. To be honest, I had a hard time with writing all these characters and interactions. I can now see where my problems were coming from, and it's actually something that's plagued me in another fic of mine. Your feedback has been useful for me going forward.

2) Since you mentioned the (over)abundance of dialogue masking the scene transition from the cafeteria to the Manga & Anime Club room, I realize I should've included a line of dialogue clarifying the group was heading to the club room. My bad.

3) Actually, while most of the story will be from Izuku's POV, we will steadily start experiencing things from the POVs of other characters. This entire chapter is an example of that, while the first portion of Chapter 12 was about Mei. Just a lil' heads-up on that. But yes, I hear you when you mentioned the third-person omniscient. I'll definitely zero in on a single POV next time I do a meeting.

4) A secondary purpose of this fic was just to give some exposure to characters underrepresented in the manga and the anime, such as most of the Class 1-B body. That's why you're seeing a trove of unrecognizable characters mingling with familiar ones. Although I probably should've eased up on the amount of characters in one scene.

5) Yes, there'll be consequences with Izuku just accepting this even after he acknowledged the perils of being a real-life superhero. Obviously, I can't show them now, so do bear with this flip-flop for a moment.

6) Well, Mina's here! If the IzuMina interactions were minimal to you, don't worry, because the next chapter will delve a little deeper into that topic.

7) Just so you know, Ochako's not a member. Yet.

8) Yes, I may need to use some of Horikoshi's tactics when it comes to a large cast of characters. Thanks for the heads-up!

9) Thank you so much for your generosity! Yes, I do want to get better as I go along writing this. It may be a little rough down the road, and I may have some trouble implementing your feedback and the feedback of others in future chapters. But know that I have no intention of letting this fic's quality go on a downward spiral. And know that I am trying my best here. I'm only human. Just keep submitting your feedback and I'll do whatever I can to make this fic consistently great from start to finish.

-Guest reviewer:

1) Thanks! I'm glad my writing style's organized enough for you to follow!

2) I'm SO glad you asked that question! I'm pretty surprised no one's thought of this yet. Yes, Stain will be factored into this AU. How, I can't say right now. ;)

Well, hope you enjoyed this somewhat late chapter! TheCartoonFanatic01 is out. PEACE! And always remember...PLUS ULTRA!

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