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THE CAFETERIA WAS EERILY QUIET. Even the most rambunctious of her classmates were silent as shifting eyes watched their every move. She kept her head down, gaze pinned to her book in an effort to pretend no one was staring at her. 1-A is the center of attention, for better or worse. She tensed; it felt as though they were all peering into her soul, grabbing at her secrets and memories and exposing what had happened.

A cough brought her attention to the other side of the table. Sero smiled sheepishly, clearing his throat and addressing the elephant in the room. "So what are you guys gonna do for the Sports Festival? I mean, this'll take some hard work, won't it?"

Silence, though a more thoughtful silence, fell on them once more. What would she do to prepare? There was no way to know what challenges they would face, nor what their opponents could do with their Quirks. All of her classmates had seen her own Quirk in action, and they all knew of her apparent weakness to electricity. Kaminari will be my biggest challenge. Locking eyes with the boy, she knew he was thinking the same thing.

Ashido banged her hand on the table, a sound that echoed. "Wait! I've got it!" She grinned, pointing at each of them individually. "What if we all trained together?" It was as if she'd set off a bomb. The entire room exploded in noise, conversations freed from the tension. After all, nobody wanted to be the one to break such a heavy silence.

Well, nobody but Ashido.

"Working with other people would be a lot better than just training alone!" Kirishima's eyes lit up as he spoke. "Just think, we could help each other find ways to utilize our Quirks." He ran a hand through his spiked hair, beaming.

Sero tilted his head and rubbed his chin. It reminded her of those old detective movies, the black-and-white ones where the protagonist would stroke his stubble until a brilliant idea popped into his head. "We ought to practice some type of combat ... Sounds fun! I'm in." He elbowed Kaminari. "You coming?"

The neon boy nodded excitedly. "Totally!" A thoughtful look appeared on his features. "Oh, hey, but can I bring my friend Himura?" Who's Himura? "She's awesome, trust me." They shared a look, before shrugging in agreement.

"Sure man," said Kirishima, "the more the merrier, right?"

Kaminari bounced in his seat. "Great! I'll let her know." He jumped up and ran off to the other side of the cafeteria. Oh. The Himura girl must be a student here. How did he socialize so quickly? She barely knew the majority of her own classmates, much less the other first years.

She'd have to work on that, she realized. If she was going to make it through the year, she would need to befriend the rest of 1-A. Always have allies, even if you might not use them.

A foot nudged her own, pulling her from her thoughts and back to reality. Her friends stared at her. It seemed that someone had asked her a question, and Bakugo happened to snap her out of her daydreaming. Whether on accident or on purpose, she didn't quite know. He's been acting strange lately. "Are you going or not, Smith, just answer the stupid question," he muttered.

She looked at her hands, ignoring the eye roll from the boy beside her. Group training outside of school? America banned Quirk usage outside of your own home, so she didn't have any experience in working with others to cultivate her abilities. It was always just her and her mother, practicing in the backyard.

And eventually, it was just her.

However, this could be an advantage. No matter the outcome, she would learn something about their Quirks and methods. That would be useful information in a competition like the Sports Festival. If she wanted to do well, to keep her place in the Hero Course, to stay in Japan ...

"I've been training on my own," she said, tracing the flower on her bracelet. "But this sounds more productive. So, yeah, I guess I'll join."

"Are you sure? You don't have to if you don't want to ..."

Kendria didn't need to see their faces to know that they were being cautious. They don't want me to hurt myself. Of course they were worried that she might not be able to handle it. The scar on her neck was proof enough of the strain her body had gone through in the past few days. But, she was not glass, and she would not let herself shatter.

She nodded, meeting Kirishima's gaze. "I'll be fine, if that's what you're asking. I want to join." He smiled, as did Sero, while Kaminari and Ashido gave her a thumbs up. Even Bakugo nodded, lips raised in a slight smirk, as if he already knew that she wouldn't back out. "So what about you, Bakugo?"

He scoffed, looking away from the group and glaring at the ceiling. "You losers may need help or whatever, but I don't." She raised an eyebrow, exchanging glances with her friends. Ashido flashed a devious grin and motioned for her to say something.

A teasing smile rose to her lips. "I get it. You're just scared."

Bakugo slammed his fist down, his chair screeching against the floor as he stood. "I'm not scared of any of you!" he practically roared, leaning down over her. He must have expected her to shrink away. Instead, she stood as well, tilting her head up to look him in the eye.

"Then prove it," she stated. Her smile grew as his eyes widened. I've never challenged him before. This should be fun. "Come train with us. We'll see who's the best." The cafeteria was quiet once more, the commotion having brought the attention to their table. Her friends snickered into their palms, and Bakugo's eyes narrowed into red slivers.

His reply was a low growl, just loud enough for her to hear. "I will destroy you, Smith." Yet it didn't sound malevolent. It wasn't the voice he used when screaming at Midoriya, or any of their other classmates really. It was one of confidence, a subtle challenge to prove him wrong.

She nodded. He straightened. They sat back down.

The rest of the lunch hour was spent planning out the next two weeks. By the time the school bell rang, it was decided that the six of them would meet up at the local gym, the one she'd trained at before the entrance exams, after school ended the following day.

The last bell of the day had just rung when Ashido bounced over to Kendria's seat. "He called you by your name," the girl squealed, black eyes wide. "He only calls us stupid nicknames, but ... Bakugo used your name!" Ashido winked and twirled away, yelling for Jiro and Uraraka to wait up.

She paused, setting her bag on the desk. Huh. She glanced at the empty chair two spots ahead of her. He hasn't called me "runt" in a while.

"Come to think of it," she murmured, "I haven't called him 'Cauliflower' in a while, either." She shook her head. No use dwelling on that. It was what it was.

Right now, she needed to focus on the Sports Festival.


i fEeL like this is character development (kendria actually standing up for herself and challenging him back woooooooow)

but if this chapter felt ooc pLEASE let me know and i'll try to fix it

ugh i ate too many animal crackers and now my stomach hurts bye

-- Fan

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