Yuga Aoyama

“Is that…” Izuku stands next to Yuga as they both stare at the pet that prances out of his chest. It takes long strides across the grass, tail feathers still materializing out of Yuga’s torso. “Is that a peacock?”
“A white one, I think. Oui.” Yuga tilts his head as the bird does a full body shake, then turns and makes a slow, elegant glide toward him. His feathers flick across the grass and his chest plumage puffs up. “Bonjour, mon chéri.”
The peacock tilts his head and makes that very distinct, throaty trilling that Yuga knows all too well. He smiles, reaching out a hand for the peacock to rub its beak against. He hasn’t seen one since he was ten and visiting his grandmother, but he remembers them vividly.
Maybe this is a kind of twisted fate, all things considered.

“Well, that was far less dramatic than I’m used to for peacocks.” The quirk user nods her head and tugs the sleeve of her baggy pajama shirt down.
“I’m going to grab a sandwich and then get to the next student. You got this from here?”

“Oh, most definitely,” Yuga says as his peacock stands tall and proud at his side.
“Wow,” Izuku looks entirely impressed, as he should, “I’ve never seen a peacock up close before.” He admires the bird, but doesn’t reach out to touch. Yuga can tell he’s itching to, but he’s got enough on his plate already.
“We’ll have plenty of time for you to take notes later, I promise,” Yuga says around a laugh. “Now, go on. We’ve both got work to do.” Izuku nods and turns back to his pet, who is rolling in the grass and drooling everywhere. He’s a good dog. Yuga likes him.
With a soft command his grandmother used to use, Yuga gets the peacock’s attention and nods toward the building. They walk in step, side by side until they’re through the common room, then they go up the stairs and idle outside of Yuga’s door.
While it may have been years since he’s been around a peacock, he still knows what they need to get by.

It’s a shame the only spare rooms on the boys side of the dorms are on the fourth and fifth floor, otherwise he’d turn one of those into a coop.
But that’s too far away, so Yuga lets the peacock in and waits until the train of feathers is through the door. He moves one of the mirrors and digs a few pillows out of his closet, setting up a fine nest in the corner and draping a white quilt around the back.
The peacock walks over and settles down, quiet and relaxed before it curls up and goes to sleep.

There’s no rush, no panic, just quiet /acceptance./ Yuga smiles and moves his training mirrors into the closet.
Plenty of people think they’re for vanity, but really they’re for practice. Low levels of his naval laser come out as light, and he can often bounce that light off mirrors, honing his aim. It’s a practice he can’t give up, not after everything he went through as a child.
But mirrors around peacocks can be… /frustrating./ They’re very vain creatures, like plenty of people assume Yuga is. But it’s not vanity that strives him to look nice, it’s a want to feel good in his own skin.
Yuga wants to be pretty and sparkling because he /enjoys/ it. He’s not seeking approval or attention, he’s just… being himself. His insides are trashed, his outsides don’t have to join them.
With a sigh, Yuga climbs onto his bed with a book and reads for a few hours, then gets ready for sleep. He skips dinner, not really hungry tonight, and he and his peacock sleep undisturbed.
Not even the rushing feet of Yaoyorozu and her swan dashing through the halls can wake them.

The next morning though, Yuga dresses in his most movable tracksuit.
“Let’s go darling.” Yuga reaches out after kissing the tips of his fingers and pressing them to the hand of his suit of armor for luck, then he and his peacock go outside for a jog.
It’s really not that difficult for the two of them to keep to themselves, especially since outside of 1-A, Yuga doesn’t really have /friends./
He refuses to change the way he is just to appease others, and maybe that alienates him, but that’s fine. He doesn’t need that negativity in his life. He just needs what he has now.

While he’s outside, Yuga passes Kirishima on a morning run with his husky.
“Oh, good morning, Kirishima,” Yuga says with a wave.

“Hey Aoyama!” Kirishima stops, catching his breath and pulling off a water bottle that had been strapped to his thigh. “Your pet’s gorgeous, man. I didn’t get to see them yesterday, but it suits you!”
“Thank you.” Yuga pulls out his own bottle and takes a measured sip. His peacock turns his head when Yuga offers, but that’s to be expected. They’re very prideful, the both of them. Yuga doesn’t need a guidebook on peacocks to know that.
“Man, it /really/ suits you, you know?” Kirishima drops to one knee as he pulls out a bowl from his small backpack and fills it with water. His husky is a little too eager to drink and nearly knocks the bowl right out of his hand, but things turn out alright in the end.
“Quoi? How so?” Yuga puts his water bottle away and reaches out to pet his peacock’s head.

“Well, you know,” Kirishima shrugs. “Pretty, mysterious, not afraid to make themselves known, confident that they look good.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Yuga teases, smiling as Kirishima laughs.

“I mean it though, man. I envy your confidence.” Kirishima stands back up while he waits for his husky to finish drinking. “You picked out a name for them yet?”
Yuga swallows a weird wriggling feeling in his throat, but he ignores it in favor of nodding. “Robert. It was my grandfather’s name, he and my grandmother raised peacocks. They’re the reason I grew up fascinated by them.”
Kirishima’s eyes widen and seem to sparkle. “Oh shit! That’s so /cool!/” Yuga can’t help but laugh and nod. “You’ll have to tell me about that one day, it sounds crazy.” He opens his mouth to say something else, but his husky shoves her head into the back of Kirishima’s knees.
“Yeah, okay, back to the run. See you at the dorm!” He bends down and picks up the bowl, dumping what’s left out and tossing it back into his bag.
Yuga waves as Kirishima runs, dog at his heels, then turns back to the trail and continues on his jog. He cuts off the path at one point, slipping into the woods, and while he’s there he pauses to sit in the grass.
Robert struts through the bushes, pecking through the shrubbery, but is otherwise quiet.

Yuga thinks about /‘confidence’/ and laughs to himself. What a… /particular/ way to say /drive./
Although Yuga isn’t saying he /isn’t/ confident, he doesn’t think Kirishima is seeing the same thing Yuga is.

He sighs and watches as Robert preens his feathers, content to just let the world ease by until he’s bored of being in the woods.
Together, he and Robert go back to the dorms. After a shower, Yuga brings his mirrors back out, explaining to Robert what they’re for. He might not fully understand, being a peacock and all, but he at least doesn’t get in the way.
Which… exceptionally bizarre for a peacock. They’re generally drawn to mirrors, even going so far as to flirt with them.
But Robert isn’t like that apparently, which makes a little more sense seeing as he’s Yuga’s soul. Or maybe he just feels as hollow as Yuga can sometimes and doesn’t want to bother staring at himself in the mirror when he could be doing something /useful/ instead.
Like training his quirk.

Or, in Robert’s case, rebuilding his pillow nest.
After a few hours, the two head downstairs for food. He isn’t surprised to find Shinsou sitting at the table, pet draped around his shoulders. They both nod at one another as Yuga makes a quick meal, then sits across from Hitoshi with two plates.
Yuga never asked if Shinsou was hungry, but he’s found that Shinsou doesn’t turn down food. Even if he’s full.

“Thanks,” Shinsou mutters before picking up the offered fork.
“Never a problem.” Because it isn’t, not really. Yuga /likes/ Shinsou. He’s quiet and doesn’t expect things out of Yuga, but he also doesn’t assume things, so that’s always refreshing.

“It’s weird that your pet is so quiet,” Shinsou says after a few minutes.
“Is it?” Yuga asks as he feeds Robert bits of fruit off his plate.

“Yeah,” Shinsou eyes Robert up and down, “it kind of is. I know it’s yours, and that means it’s quiet because /you’re/ quiet, but it’s also a peacock. And they’re…”
“Annoying, loud, boisterous?” Yuga offers with a smile. “You don’t have to sugar coat it, Shinsou, I grew up with them at my window during the summer.” He smiles when Robert rubs his beak against the table. “I know Robert isn’t… like other birds.”
Shinsou hums, fork halfway to his mouth. “You know what, I have a theory.”

Yuga waits for him to go on, nodding as he picks at what’s left on his plate. “A theory, you say?”
“Yeah.” Shinsou takes his last bite, chews, swallows, and picks up his napkin. “I think your bird is quiet because you never speak up enough about how you really feel.”

Yuga laughs. “You’ve been leaning too heavily into those psychology courses.”
“Probably,” Shinsou grins, “but am I wrong?”

And Yuga opens his mouth to tell him he /is,/ but the words won’t come out. He’s… never really been one to talk about his feelings.
Years of telling people there was something wrong, only to have it brushed off have left him some kind of way. Years of doctors, quirk belt adjustments, and tests…

Years of being brushed aside any time he tried to tell them how he felt.
Yuga smiles softly, sadly, and wipes off his mouth. “I don’t think you are,” he admits.

Shinsou pauses in wading up his napkin, then reaches out a hand across the table. Yuga takes it, the two of them squeezing their fingers and palms together in quiet comfort.
There should be words for this, words to express what they’re both feeling, but… there aren’t. Yuga can’t complain any more about his past, though it’s not because he feels he doesn’t have the right. It’s because he’s moved on from it.
His parents begged forgiveness after his grandparents figured things out, they cried and held him, and Yuga came to terms long ago with what happened. He offers a smile to Shinsou, and his friend slowly lets go and takes their plates to the sink.
Guess he has more to think about.

Classes with Robert are… /uneventful./ Sometimes he joins, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he paces the hallway outside the classroom with a few other pets, sometimes he baits Momo’s swan into a chase.
Other times he sits quietly next to Yuga and drapes his tail feathers over his lap. It’s comforting, if he’s honest. Strange, but comforting.
“Are you going to bring your pet to quirk training?” Sero asks, his own pet in its harness and tugging to scramble toward the door. “You will /wait,/” he snaps, and his pet growls but flops full bodied onto the floor.
“I’m not sure what I’d do with him there,” Yuga admits, checking the wires to his redirection discs.

“Me either, but you two are kind of inseparable. It would be weird to see you without him.” Sero shrugs, then clicks his tongue. “Okay you menace, walkies can commence.”
Yuga watches as Sero is yanked through the front door with a laugh, his pet bolting and scraping the hardwood with its claws.
“What do you say, Robert, want to join me?” Yuga asks. His question earns him a trilling chirp, and it’s the most noise Yuga’s heard since he got him. It fills him full of delight, so they go together.
Facing off against Iida is… well, Yuga has to fight back laughter on multiple occasions when Robert throws out his tail feathers and starts dancing in front of Iida, starling him into a full stop more than once.
It’s even funnier when Robert calls out, loud and near ear splitting, and Iida is so surprised that he trips over himself and ends up ass in the air, helmet in the dirt.
Yuga helps Iida up and they take a break, both drinking from water bottles when Robert shuffles around them and picks at the ground with his clawed feet.
“You know, I was starting to think your pet was mute,” Iida says as he leans back and stares at the ceiling. “I’m glad he’s not, but I’m surprised he doesn’t make more noise.”

“I don’t,” Yuga shrugs, “Make a lot of noise, I mean.”
Iida nods, then sits up and frowns. “You /don’t,/ do you… I should have noticed more. Everything alright?”

Yuga hesitates, and it’s enough of a tense pause that Iida offers a hand. Yuga smiles and leans against his still armored shoulder instead. “It’s complicated.”
“I have the time, Aoyama. You know I do.” Iida’s voice is sincere and soft, and it forms a lump in Yuga’s throat.

He’s over this, but… it doesn’t hurt to talk about it. It shouldn’t.
“I’m fine now, but I wasn’t always.” He reaches down and puts a hand on his belt. “I’ve always had to wear this, from the time my quirk manifested really, but… it hasn’t always… /worked/ properly.” He sighs as Iida nods and takes another sip of water.
“My quirk and my body are at odds. The feedback sometimes was... more damaging than expected. It left a… lot of internal scarring when I was first figuring my quirk out. I tried to tell people something was wrong, but… no one really understood.’
‘It’s normal to have a stomach ache with a quirk like mine, but I wasn’t… /just/ getting stomach aches. I experienced major internal bleeding, permanent scarification to my stomach lining, and had to have a foot or two of my intestines cut out due to rot.”
“Fuck,” Iida whispers.

“Fuck indeed.” Yuga laughs. “Eventually they listened, but by then I’d gotten so used to just… not talking about it that silence became a way of life. I handle things myself, I don’t bring up minor issues.”
“I wouldn’t call internal bleeding minor,” Iida argues.

“Well of course not, but I didn’t know what it was as a child.” Yuga smiles and sits up, then turns and moves Tenya’s hair off his forehead.
“My belt was fixed by my grandparents, and I’ve had years to train with my quirk to know where my limits are, so I’m fine now.'
'I became a Hero so I could help people who didn’t have the voice to help themselves. I thought about being a doctor, but with my quirk, I’d be better suited to rescue. Don’t you think?”
Iida swallows and reaches out, taking both of Yuga’s hands and squeezing tight. “I think that you’re stronger than you give yourself credit, and I’m /so/ proud of where you are. Having you here… you’re an inspiration, Aoyama. I’m so glad you’re my friend.”
Yuga bites his lip and tries not to laugh. While the words fill his chest with butterflies and sweetness, they’re extremely sappy.
“Merci… Thank you, for believing in me, I mean.” Yuga slips his hands out of Iida’s, then pushes to his feet. “Alright, let’s get back to training.”
When Yuga gets back to his dorm, he sits on his bed and quietly cries to himself, Robert pressed to his side.
He’s covered in tail feathers, nuzzled, and trilled at, but none of it stops the flood of memories and emotions that spill over until Yuga feels lightheaded and dehydrated. He drinks tap water because he’s too tired to get anything else, then curls up on the bed.
The next few days are heavy in anticipation, the creeping date of giving the pets back weighing on everyone’s heart. People are walking on auto pilot, and Yuga isn’t an exception.
The morning of the quirk user’s arrival, he sits on his balcony. Robert is inside, plucking several of his tail feathers out and placing them neatly on Yuga’s desk. He joins Yuga after a while, crooning as they watch the woman knock on the front door.
“I guess this is it, mon chéri?” Yuga whispers. Robert puffs up and nuzzles his cheek. “I’m so lucky to have met you,” he says, fingers gentle over Robert’s feathers. “Come on, let’s go put you back.” Robert nods, and Yuga takes the stairs.
As he stands in front of the woman, she offers a smile. “How’re you feeling?” she asks, voice gentle.

Yuga thinks he’ll just offer a smile and shrug, but Robert’s head bumps his palm. He does smile, but it’s aimed at his friend.
“I’m so /fucking/ sad,” he admits, wiping away the tears that are welling up in his eyes. When he blinks them away and wipes his face on his sleeve, Robert ruffles his feather.
Color /blooms/ suddenly across them, elegant and a rainbow of pastel. It’s unnatural and /beautiful,/ like the beam of his naval laser. Yuga laughs, leaning down to bump his head with Robert’s.
“Show off,” he teases, eyes shut as a hand settles on his back, the other no doubt guiding Robert back into his chest. He feels Robert’s feathers disappear from his face and he /aches./
When he opens his eyes, he might /feel/ full, but Robert is gone. So he’s not sure how he’s doing.

He spends the day with his friends, talking more than he ever has.
He holds Mina tight while she weeps, assures Momo and Tsuyu that they did the right thing, and cooks snacks for Kaminari between his fits of tears.

He doesn’t cry.
When it’s time to get to bed, he stumbles in the doorway as opalescent peacock feathers glitter on his desk.
He drops to his knees and lets himself /wail,/ surprised when Tokoyami hurries in and wraps him in a tight grip.

“I know,” Tokoyami whispers. “I /know./ Talk to me.”

So Yuga does.

~End QRT to Comment~

ENORMOUS thank you to @omegaharte for helping me with the French in this fic. It added that perfect touch.

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