After such an eventful past few days, it felt good to get back into the usual rhythm of things. There was a small mental fight in her own mind which Ruby had to fight, as she felt disappointed in herself that she wasn’t there to protect her friends when they needed it the most. For an aspiring hero it wasn’t the most uncommon of feelings to have, however, that didn’t undermine how much it could impact someone. Especially Ruby, with such a defensive quirk which she regularly used offensively because she never had the chance to protect anyone, it was a heavy blow. Though, due to her usual outward demeanour, it wasn’t exactly someone one would spot instantly when looking at her, as the neutral expression had become a signature feature on the catlady’s face, one that should not be misinterpreted as apathy, even if it was ever so easy.
Due to the injuries she had sustained against the small spar with Amane, Ruby didn’t train much for the past few days. Not her hands anyways, as she had preferred to focus on her legs for a while as they are just as, if not more important as/than her arms and hands. There was no way she’d be falling behind anytime soon.
For now the catgirl could be seen roaming through the halls of the schools with an unlabelled book in her hand. No that is not correct, on closer inspection it became clear that it was just a cover for the book, one which hid the identity and content of the literature beneath. With her golden eyes sunk deeply between the pages she treated carefully through the long corridors, her goal were the dorms.
Another girl heading to the dorms right now was Kasuke Mina, who after the sparring session with Jett, was still a little red in the face, although no longer angry. She spotted Ruby also returning to the dorms, and walked alongside her. ”Good morning, Mamoru-san,”
she greeted casually, in contrast to the last time they met, when Mina seemed cross about something, and was grilling her about Amane.
As it was usual for her, Ruby was mostly lost in her thoughts. Additionally, she wasn’t exactly used to walking together with other people through the school building so it was a surprise for her to see Mina, or rather, hear her walk alongside her and greet her in such a casual way. The neko kept up her pace as she was walking alongside Mina now but turned her head for a short moment to inspect her, before resuming her focus on the path ahead. “Good morning, Mina-san”
She replied back softly and politely.”Kasuke-san”
Mina corrected promptly, causing a brief and awkward moment of silence. She cleared her throat. ”Anyway, I was actually hoping I’d see you at some point. I wanted to apologize for the last time we spoke. I was rather highly strung at the time. I admit, I am still curious about your spar with Amane. Just one more question, and I promise I won’t mention it again. Who won?”
The reminder to call Mina by her proper last name caught Ruby only somewhat off guard. It was a really easy stop to the conversation dynamic so quickly into it, but from what she had seen from Mina this far it wasn’t exactly uncharacteristic. Though to be fair, the catgirl really hadn’t had many interactions with her anyways so she could be wrong regarding that. In any case, Ruby broke the awkward silence for a quick.“...Right, I apologize.”
Before Mina resumed the conversation. Though the topic was basically as expected…
They took a turn to the right to head outside of the building, still on their way to the dorms. It seemed as though Ruby was right with her judgement that Mina seemed a little too obsessed with what had happened, at least she gave that impression to the blackhaired one.
Honestly, Ruby wasn’t even sure how to reply. “No need to apologize, Kasuke-san, I can understand. And don’t worry about that, it was just a spar, we really didn’t go all out.”
That was only a half-truth as they did get quite invested into it, however, Ruby just tried to downplay the event without revealing who actually won as she attempted to help Mina’s psyche out here.
Mina smiled a sad, wistful smile, though her eyes looked as if she’d just been punched in the gut. Ruby hadn’t told her she’d beaten Amane. Ruby didn’t have to. If it was a tie, or if Amane won, she’d had told Mina by now, just to get her to shut up. The fact that she was keeping it such a secret was basically an admission. Mina nodded, and tried to push her growing yet illogical and unwanted resentment towards Ruby away.”You’re right. I should just let it go. It won’t help me. It’s just that I’ve never been beaten like that. It was the most humiliating, one-sided defeat I’ve ever experienced. I should expect as much from the big leagues. A place where the some of the best Heroes in the world are made. But a life of being the best wherever I went hasn’t prepared me for being such a small fish in such a big pond.”
Due to Ruby’s social inept personality and complete lack of skills in that department, she actually did not correctly interpret Mina’s expression and didn’t draw the conclusion that Mina had seen straight through her. Instead, the catgirl interpreted the sad expression in her eyes as a result of what was said afterwards. The neko could fully understand Mina’s sentiments though. She herself after all had to fight her way up from general studies after failing the initial entrance exam due to her quirk being utterly useless in that scenario. She felt blessed that she was allowed to prove herself on such a level. She felt like Mina could use the same thing.“Mi-... Kasuke-san. I can completely understand those feelings, really. But I don’t think you can set Amane as the standard here. He is… way above most other students from our year, it is almost scary.”
They had by now finally left the building and were walking through the fresh air which caused Ruby to take a deep breath, her golden eyes gazing towards the sky.“I don’t think comparing yourself to others is a good thing. In this world, not everyone is created equal. So if you want to compare yourself to someone else, at least compare yourself to someone who does not have a quirk which even pro heroes would be jealous of.”
Ruby replied, trying to cheer Mina up by putting things into perspective.
Unfortunately, it had the exact opposite effect. Mina’s resentment boiled up again, and her exterior froze over. ”It must be so much easier to say that about Amane for you. We both know that you won that sparring match. But you are right. We’re not all created equal. My quirk isn’t worth spit compared to my mom’s. ‘Seductress’. Sometimes I think I’d have been happier if I was born quirkless. Then I’d have given up on my dreams when I was five years old, and I could have gotten on with my life, being an exceptional, straight A’s student who could have gone into any career she chose.
But no. I was encouraged to follow my dreams, and to fight for them. I put my all into becoming a Hero to the point where it is now my sole reason for living. But I’m stuck under my mom’s shadow. It. Is. Suffocating. And the only way I am *ever* going to get out from under it is to surpass her. She graduated from UA the number two student of her whole year, so I need to graduate as the number one student in Komei academy. To achieve less isn’t an option for me.
So yes, I will compare myself to anybody who may prevent me from standing at the top. And who stands over Amane?”
Mina turned to face Ruby now, with challenge in her eyes.
They had stopped walking by now. It really was quite the eruption Mina had there, Ruby must’ve really hit a nerve there, is what the neko thought to herself. Her feline ears lower themselves to lay flat on her head to reflect her mood.
But in a way, Ruby could understand Mina’s sentiments. Despite her not having asked for Mina’s entire life story, the catgirl could at least somewhat relate, though in a different way. While Ruby tried to be friendly towards Mina, her face was rather neutral as always which was kind of contradictory, but certainly didn’t help the current situation.
“I don’t stand anywhere over Amane. I won a sparring match where we both did not use our quirks. You could easily beat a quirkless Amane.”
“Don’t try to pull yourself on my level, I am sure you are already above me by default, seeing how passionate you are.”
She added a pause to think but would keep on talking before Mina had a chance to reply.
“If you are that passionate about it then who am I to stop you. If you want to, I can teach you about Amane’s fighting-style, at least when he is not using his quirk.”
While Ruby wasn’t exactly interested in having a fullblown sparring match with Mina, all that desperation mixed with even more prevalent determination and passion was enough to get her fired up too, wanting to at least offer her assistance as a sign of peace.
Mina shook her head, a lot calmer after having vented half her biography. It really made you wonder whether she has anybody at this school with whom she ever complained about anything with. Did she just...bottle it all up? And if so, for how long had she been doing that?“The Training Room is too busy, and even if it wasn’t, I….don’t want to go back there right now.”
She flushed and grimaced, making a ‘tch’ sound as she remembered the wet willy. “But I would like to spar with you eventually. With our quirks. I’m going to accept your offer but save it for another day.”
Ruby’s posture was rather stiff as she shook her head quietly. ”I think you misunderstood. I didn’t offer to spar with you, I offered to show you how Amane fights from what I’ve seen at least. But I agree, let us do that another time, my hands still aren’t fully healed anyways.”
It was surprising to what extend Mina had opened up to Ruby, someone who was almost a stranger to her. Though maybe the bottled up emotions were just too much and Ruby, a rather quiet personality who didn’t talk much, was just the perfect listener for that? Though admittedly, Ruby was kind of interested in the obviously annoyed implications concerning who was in the training room. Asking right now seemed like a bad idea though…
Ruby turned her body to face the way ahead of them again. Honestly, being approached by someone like that made her excited, even if it wasn’t for the most… friendly reasons. But who knows, maybe they could become friends one day?, instead of falling into some rivalry because of Mina’s damaged ego? It would be the much preferred outcome for the catgirl at least.“I don’t really care about how Amane fights, or anyone for that matter. In a no-holds-barred fight where both parties can use their quirks, I’m never going to lose because the other person was better at martial arts. I’m good enough that I could beat any student in this school in a contest of martial arts if I get lucky, but I don’t want to be a great martial artist. I want to be a great Hero.”
Mina explained, before looking over at Ruby and raising her eyebrow. “There’s something you clearly want to say, or ask. I’m listening.”” That’s quite the confidence you got there.”
Ruby replied to Mina’s statement regarding how she could beat anyone in this school in martial arts. It was a very bold statement to make and did say a lot about how Mina viewed herself, but Ruby didn’t really get held up by something like that, even if she disagreed.
The girl took a step forward, making sure Mina would continue walking alongside her before shrugging. “There’s nothing I want to say really. I just hope you don’t feel any resentment towards me for beating Amane, because I kind of like your determination so it’d be a shame.”
She said casually, even though on the inside Ruby was practically exploding. It was a similar feeling to when she talked to some of the other classmates she had made friends with, it was just so new for her. Never having had any friends just made it all the more exciting to actually potentially have some, yet it was difficult for her to express that emotion properly on the outside so she just came across as neutral and potentially cold, even if her voice showed no sign of hostility or negative emotions, moreso a lack thereof.
Mina’s response to getting called overconfident was simply to smile, and to let it slide. She knew, or at least genuinely believed, that she wasn’t overconfidence. She just knew exactly what she could do and believed that every claim she made, she could back up. What did get Mina’s attention, however, was Ruby saying that she liked Mina’s determination. Mina was not used to compliments, so it caught her off guard. She stared for a minute, before visibly smiling, with a softness to her features which is only ever there when she talks to Jett, or Donny.“I’ll try not to, but thank you. This may be surprising if you think I’m overconfident but I am not used to compliments. I don’t really know how to process them. My determination, huh? Is that special? Everyone here is incredibly determined in their own ways.”
Seeing Mina smile was a welcome change. It made Ruby wonder whether people would think the same thing about her if she smiled more herself? Not that it mattered at the moment anyways. After all, Mina was more dumbfounded by a compliment than expecting it, at least for a few short moments. Maybe they weren’t so different after all.”I can understand that. The whole not being able to process compliments.”
Ruby admitted. Then she proceeded to say more with a slightly softer voice herself, clearly appreciating the change away from the rather tense feeling Mina gave off before.”I don’t know if it is special. What I know is that my motivations just feel quite lackluster compared to some of the stories I’ve heard so far, and yours is certainly among them. Honestly?”
Ruby turned her head to face Mina. ”I almost envy such a drive.”
afterwards, she turned her head away and scratched the back of her head. With Mina seemingly more friendly towards Ruby, the neko had dropped her cold and neutral facade to make way for a slightly warmer and softer vibe herself. “Although I cannot envy anyone who had to face many issues growing up.”
By now, the two of them had arrived in the common room of the girl’s dorms. Mina took a seat on the couch as she looked up at Ruby to answer her. “Well, you used to be in the General Studies class, and with your quirk and fighting skill, if you were truly driven to be a Hero then you’d have made it into the Hero course easily. So I had a feeling you didn’t have a particularly crazy story. But that’s a good thing. Trust me, you don’t want one. That said, what are your motivations? What are your goals?”
The blackhaired one sat down next to Mina on the same couch and replied herself. “That’s quite the assumption to make. It’s not that I didn’t have the drive to make it, it is more like my quirk was quite useless in the entrance exam which is why I failed that physical examination. But oh well…”
She was sitting relatively stiff with her back in a straight position and her hands on both of her legs in a proper position. ”Don’t get me wrong I do have a drive to become a hero. I want to help people, be useful for society and most importantly make my parents proud and happy in becoming the hero they never could. Nothing dramatic though-”
Mina tutted, and appeared to back to her old icy countenance, but there was still a warmth to her, like she was enjoying herself. “First off, somebody who could best Amane in a quirkless spar can’t claim that they’re at a disadvantage when they can’t rely solely on their quirk. Second,”
Mina paused as she held up her hand and made it glow. ”Your quirk is a lot more useful than mine in the first place. The desperation that I fought with in that entrance exam. The motivation that if I failed, I genuinely didn’t know how I could move on from there. The need with every fiber of my being to pass even if it killed me. That’s what I meant by the drive you lacked. Without that, I’d have probably got the lowest scores in the school. I’m a lightbulb, Ruby. You can freeze things in place with a touch. If anything, I should be envying you.”
While her stare was as deadpan as always, Ruby actually had to hold back a laughter when Mina mentioned being a lightbulb. It made a funny image appear in the neko’s head, one of Ruby with a lightbulb where her head would normally be but she quickly threw away that thought to focus on the conversation at hand. ”While I won’t deny that my quirk might be more useful at face value, I suppose both of our quirks are similar in the way that we need to be quite creative to get a good use out of them. I’ve got techniques that I developed which make my quirk quite good.”
She said confidently. ”Considering the fact that you are here I can imagine that it is the same for you, Kasuke-san. Admittedly, having a quirk which looks very one-dimensional on the surface and developing moves and skills that surprise everyone is kind of fun for me, I wonder if you think the same way. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious about what you thought of.”
The last two sentences almost sounded like Ruby intended to just think them but they slipped out accidentally.
Mina sat back, and smiled again. “I don’t want to give away any of my fighting techniques in case we ever have to face each other in an exercise, or in the tournament. But I can tell you a few of them. Like, I could emit UV light if I was at a crime scene, for example. Also, though I can’t do it yet, with practice I hope that one day I can emit microwaves that could scramble radio frequencies.”
Mina was about to ask Ruby what applications she’d though of, when she heard a clatter of multiple footsteps making their way towards the girl’s dorm common room. Mina turned to face the noise as Dulga burst in, followed by Kaida and Yukari. They sat together at the other side of the room, and though Mina couldn’t hear everything that they were talking about, Dulga seemed quite mellow, and the smaller, sweeter-looking girl was getting quite worked up. Mina could hear a few curses. Just what had Mina missed that could bring about a switch like that?