He hasn't moved since then. He's frozen, body mid-fall, light sharpening its blade on his cornea, broken fingers clawing at air, a scream snarled in his vocal cords. He laughs with Iida and Uraraka, lifts weights while revising differential equations, gushes to Todoroki about All Might, and he is still there. He is still there. Paralysed.
Silent but for the animal scream that rings in his skull as he watches shadows swallow the sun.
He blinks. Awake. His eyes register light and his mother's worried face and the absence over her shoulder.
"Is something wrong? You - you sounded like you were having a bad dream. Was it - " she hesitates, "Was it the villain from last year again?"
He just manages to stop himself from asking, Which villain. The first villain he ever encountered, the first time he felt his blood thin with fear, the first time he realised he had to do something about it.
He never did tell her that the nightmares he had afterwards were ones where he couldn't.
"It's...it's nothing." He smiles sheepishly. "Sorry for waking you."
"I see." She moves to fluff up his pillow. Her lips are raw and the skin between her eyebrows creased worse than a kindergartener's origami.
How many times has he made her cry now? He's long lost count.
"Mum." He places his hand over hers. "I'm fine. I just..."
She looks at him like he might disappear.
"...I dreamt about Dad," he says.
"Oh, Izuku," she says, squeezing his hands.
"I know," he says. "I'm not a kid anymore, I know. I must just be really tired." He tries for another smile, this time getting a weak one out of her in return. "I'm fine. I'm sorry I disturbed you, and made you worry."
He waits for the door to click shut before he slips out from bed and crawls beneath it. Past hero analysis notebooks, squirreled-away manga and hoarded merchandise, his fingers brush against a dusty, small box.
A faded postcard of the Nanjing Bridge. A dark blue tie too long for him. A drawing in crayon of three people having a picnic.
The clock by his bedside table reads 2 am. He rests his head on the cold glass of his window and falls asleep to the sounds of a basketball thumping against the ceiling opposite his.
"Deku-kun, you're going the wrong way."
"Huh?" He blinks at the setting sun, then looks over his shoulder at the campus sprawling out behind him.
"We're staying in the dorms now, remember?" Uraraka says.
"Oh - right. Sorry," he says, ducking his head, embarrassed. "Ah, thanks."
"Aha, I nearly made the same mistake yesterday, too," she says with a smile. "Don't worry about it."
She trots ahead of him, her hair fluttering in the light breeze, honey-gold and hazel where the light reflects off it. And like honey it slips through his fingers to join the world melting around his ankles.
"Deku - "
He lifts his head. A head crowned with gold looking back at him -
"-kun, are you okay?"
He slips through Izuku's fingers.
"Ah, Uraraka-san. Sorry. I'm coming."
From the beginning, Kacchan has always been an incomparable existence.
Whenever he raises his head, Kacchan is there. More than his mother whose warm gaze turned watery with pity. More than his father whose phone calls dwindled into monthly bank records - Kacchan. Kacchan, dozing off atop the exam paper he finished in half an hour. Kacchan, looming over him with his mouth twisted into a smirk. Kacchan, looking over his shoulder, lips parted around the syllables, Deku.
And the one time he dared to look directly ahead, the universe spat nothingness back into his face.
The water numbs his face. He wakes; he opens his eyes only when he's sure it'll be the bright red toothbrush in a wonky cup and the words Bakugou Katsuki (1A) flooding his vision. Bristles worn down by abuse, a circle of water at the cup's base. Each dot of colour seizing light from above and snaring them within his retinas.
Strands of gold in the sink. Eraser dust cut up with a ruler. Shouts that echo. The click of a pen to the rhythm of a half-remembered song. The scent of forest moss. Footsteps weighted upon the same floor he walks.
A shadow haunting the periphery of his vision, kinder than an inconstant sun.
Planets are dust and dead rock. Stars bleed gold and burn out in a quarter of a second. It would be eight minutes and twenty seconds before anyone notices.
The day he outgrows his favourite All Might sneakers, his mother buys him a plain, chunky red pair that trips him up every five steps. He hides in his room and cries beneath his blankets until Kacchan bundles the sheets up like a sack and drags Izuku off.
"We're playing kidnapping," Kacchan declares. "A villain's gonna you."
Izuku clutches at the bump on the back of his head, sniffling. "I d'wanna p-play. I d'wanna be ki-kidnapped."
"Don't be lame," Kacchan scoffs. "Doncha wanna get rescued by a hero?"
Izuku dries his eyes on the back of his too-long sleeves. "By All Might?"
Kacchan smacks him. "By me, dumbass."
"Wh-why would anyone kidnap me?"
If it was All Might, it would be to trap him, because All Might being All Might would have tons of enemies who'd wanna kill him. Kacchan frowns, until his gaze lands on the shoebox Izuku stuffed into the corner earlier. He snatches them up. "'Cause they want your shoes!"
"They can just steal them - ow!"
"Don't interrupt me!" Kacchan says. "'Cause, they - they're secret weapon shoes that - that only I told you how to use. And told you not to let fall into the wrong hands!"
"Eh?" Izuku backs away, lip quivering. "Does that mean I'll get t-t-tortured?"
Kacchan lights up and tackles Izuku to the floor.
"Gwah - ahaha - noooo stop!!" Izuku squirms, desperate to get away from the tickling.
"What is the secret of the shoes?" Kacchan - no, the Bad Guy - says.
"I-I d-dunno - ah! - haha - Kacchaaaaan!! Kacchan! He-eelp!!"
Kacchan swerves out of his field of vision and returns, Izuku's blanket around his shoulders. He hauls Izuku upright, his hold on Izuku's wrist tight enough to bruise. "You're safe now!" he crows.
"O-oh, thank - "
He whirls around, makeshift cape smacking Izuku in the face. "So where's the bastard that did this!?"
Ah, right, they were watching that hero drama last night. What did the kidnapped person do at this part again...?
"Um…" Izuku loops his arms around Kacchan and pecks him on the cheek. "Thank you for rescuing me, hero!"
Kacchan turns bright red.
"Ow, why'd you hit me!?"
He bolts upright, skin damp with sweat, half his heart in overdrive, half his heart entombed in stone, and struggles to free himself from the sheets tangled around his legs like vestiges of a dream. He tears through shadows with his gaze, desperate for a light.
Every step through the darkness is like wading through thick mud. His feet follows the path it knows and when the loud snores from the other side of the door fill his ears, his knees buckle beneath him.
One two three. His own breathing evens out, until it's in tandem with Kacchan's. His hands stop shaking.
He doesn't close his eyes. He doesn't move. Not until sunlight cuts through the darkness and turns him to stone, and he no longer can.
Kacchan is so bright, it's easier to look at the world he lights up rather than Kacchan himself.
Kirishima and Kaminari guffaw at Kacchan, who apparently went through three hours with vegetables lodged between his teeth without knowing. Kacchan lunges at Kirishima, who dodges with easy grace. He ducks behind the couch, laughing.
"Midoriya, is it too noisy here? Should we move somewhere else?" Todoroki asks.
He tears his eyes away from Kacchan. "Ah, no, it's fine. Sorry, Todoroki-kun," he says, and returns to the quadratic equations swimming in front of his eyes.
"Midoriya...are you alright?"
Izuku forces out a laugh. "I'm fine. Sorry."
Todoroki leans forward and takes Izuku's face between cool hands, tilting his face up to stare closer at it. Their foreheads bump. "You look tired - "
An explosion sends their books and papers flying. Kacchan stands over Todoroki, chest heaving.
"Oi, Half-and-Half Bastard. You're pissing me off."
"This is a common space," Todoroki says.
Izuku bends down to retrieve their things. "S-sorry if we're disturbing," he says to the floor.
Kacchan shoves his hands in his pockets. Izuku carefully avoids the glare burning a hole into his sleeve.
Kacchan turns on his heel and storms off to his room.
"What's with him?" Todoroki says.
Izuku digs his nails into the faint burn across his wrist.
"I don't know," he says.
His shoulder crashes into Kacchan. Ash chokes his lungs and dust fills his eyes as Kacchan crumbles away -
" - shut the fuck up already!"
He blinks. One two three. His heart is pounding in his chest, pinned down by the weight of the darkness and -
He reaches up and pinches the Kacchan-lookalike's cheek. He's rewarded with a pillow in his face.
"You were yelling the whole damn building down, shitty Deku," he says, smacking Izuku with the pillow. "Try sleeping in a racket like that."
"E-eh? Is that so?" Izuku clutches at the sheets. He smiles apologetically. "Sorry about that."
Kacchan stares at him. He reaches across the bed and crowds Izuku against the wall.
"Ka-Kacchan!?" He jerks his head away. "U-uh, what - "
"Oi," Kacchan says, eyes narrowed. "Haven't you been avoiding me recently?"
Izuku squeezes his eyes shut. "I'm s-sorry?"
Kacchan grabs Izuku's jaw, fingers digging into his cheeks. His eyes are molten gold, burning Izuku's skin where they fall.
"Deku. Why the fuck won't you look at me?"
Izuku bites his lip. He can't stop shaking. This is awake, calloused hands and dizzying heat and hot breath by his ear.
A clump of dead rock watching gravity rip its sun apart.
"Fine." Kacchan drops his arm and steps off the bed. He turns away, muttering. "Even though you were calling my name - "
He's moving before he feels it, the back of Kacchan's sleep shirt clutched in his white-knuckled grip.
Why the fuck won't you look at me?
Because he doesn't know if he can stand looking away again.
"Kacchan," he says brokenly, "Don't go."
Shards of glass crawl up his throat and Izuku would cut his hands on every one of them if he could take each one back. His fingers won't move, frozen around Kacchan's shirt, that could any moment crumble away with the rest of him. He never wanted to say it. He never wanted to have to say any of it.
He never wanted Kacchan to leave.
Kacchan turns around. He pries Izuku's hand off his shirt, smoothing over the scars with his thumb.
"Deku - "
The dam breaks. He surges forwards and takes Kacchan's face between his shaking hands. Kacchan's breath ghosts over his lips and he sucks it in greedily, proof of his existence.
"Kacchan." His name falls from Izuku's lips in a litany. "Kacchan."
He gazes at Izuku with eyes of a jovian storm, smoke and acid held together by nothing but the force of its own spinning, ceaselessly, in the glittering emptiness of space. Far from the sun, alone in the cold.
"Idiot," he says. He presses a thumb to the corner of Izuku's eye. "You're such a damn crybaby."
He kisses Izuku and spills starlight into his soul.
After the rest of his lackeys have gone home, Kacchan holds Izuku's hand in his and teaches him to skip rocks across the sunken, upside-down moon.
When he finally gets it, Kacchan says, "Of course you'd get it with me teaching you." And smirks at him.
Izuku doesn't care about the moon reflected in lake water, or the stars reflected in the rearview mirror, or the sunlight reflected in the moon. But the Izuku reflected in Kacchan's eyes, he thinks, he could place among the stars.
Izuku wakes to a room half in darkness, half in light.
A nebula of dust motes suspended in air. Hair gold like the constellations studded in spiral galaxies. Light cast into neutron stars in his eyes. The inescapable pull between them, that of binary stars.
"M-morning, Kacchan," he says.
A bundle of clothes hit him in the face. "Hurry up and get dressed," Kacchan says. "We're gonna be late."
Izuku slips into the white shirt and dark trousers of his uniform. As he loops the tie into a knot, Kacchan draws the curtains, and illuminates the stitching on the underside resting over his heart.
Bakugou Katsuki (1A).
"Hurry up," Kacchan says. He takes Izuku's hand as those of the clock begin to move.
Infinite planets in an endless universe and here, he knows, is the home they'll always come back to.