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Lay It On Me

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“So? You were so eager to set an appointment and now you don’t want to talk?” Dr. Retsu asked after twenty minutes of silence. “I must say it’s a decided improvement from your usual angry Chihuahua state of being, but it worries me nonetheless”.

I decided not to answer her. Instead my fists gritted the arms of the chair and, after an uncontrollable burst of fury, reduced them to splinters with an explosion. Dr. Retsu didn’t even flitch. She was already used to it, after 2 and a half years of therapy I had broken countless chairs, sofas, tables, notebooks and at least a dozen different versions of the fucking Rorschach test. I think that after the second set of pages was blown up she just kept on bringing them to spite me… or to have fun. I don’t know.

“Well, you are wasting my time” My psychiatrist started scribbling down something in her notebook.

I liked her straightforwardness. I choose her because I didn’t want the world to be explained by another man. My mother is right when she says I only ever listen to what women have to say, probably because she was always the assertive voice in the family. But after the first session (in which I, by the way, cost her one office), it became apparent that the only person who could get close to help me was her. She didn’t take any of my shit.

“He’s coming back” I mumbled as she started putting her notebook away. That caught her attention, her eyebrows arched and her lips curled into a tiny and utterly annoying half smile.

“I know, it hit the news. Well, it was about time for him to come back” She said as if she was stating an obvious fact. “How long has it been? Two years?”

“Two and a half, more or less.” I spat avoiding her eyes. She was enjoying this, I knew it.

“Isn’t this what you were waiting for?”

“Dreading is the word I’d use.” I started noticing all the symptoms she brought up from the first day. I was avoiding her eyes, crossing my arms tightly around my chest and snapping as if every word directed at me was some sort of insult.

“Why’s that?” And now she was tapping the pen against the notebook, as if trying to get me to explode. “One would think that you’d be exhilarated.”

“You know pretty damn well why.”

“Yes, and I would like you to say it.”

“Why’s that?” And there it was, I was snapping and shouting again. Little explosions were coming out of my hands and arms. She knew how to push my buttons. “It doesn’t sound practical.”

“Maybe because you are used to bottling every facsimile of an emotion in a vacuum pressured bottle, to the point which you hardly ever know how to react confronted by basic human interactions like, a hug, a word of comfort, a fucking ‘hello’.” She trailed off as she scribbled in her notebook. “Your refusal to confront this sooner drove you to make the stupidest of mistakes and to almost ruin all of your relationships with people. It ruined the relationship you claim to care the most about, somehow. And now you are faced with the chance to, maybe, make things right. But you will not be able to make things right if you keep on that stupid angry Chihuahua, blasty mcexplosion, Tsundere attitude. It took you two years to understand why you are an asshole but sadly there’s nothing I can do to help you stop being one, that’s something you have to do on your own. And you had, you are a better person now. One method I think it’d help you is to be honest and vocal about your feelings OTHER than annoyance and anger. You have succeeded, you did it this past two years, but the real challenge begins now. You cannot be blocked by Izuku’s presence. For you to move forward, he has to see the new you.”

“What the fuck old hag!” The following explosion made the office shake. A couple of books fell from their bookshelves but she remained unfazed.

“So. Why are you dreading Izuku coming home after all these years?”.

 

*

 

The events which lead Izuku to leave and become the phenomenon he became are a lot. Thus the tale is long so if you really want to hear it, sit down, shout your fucking mouths, and listen. I will not tell this tale twice.

It all began when Izuku lost his powers. And that happened because of one of those stupid reasons only someone so stupidly selfless like Deku could fall for.

It was quite simple really. During a raid of villains we had grown so used to by then, a lot of things went wrong. We thought we had all under control, but the attack on students was nothing but a smoke screen to cover what they were actually trying to do. While both teachers and students were busy fighting D class villains, the real bulk of the League infiltrated the prison in which All for One was kept captive and freed him.

Then everything went to hell.

A fight the kind of which no one had seen, not even in the most exaggerated hero movie, broke off when the strongest members of the League came charging with All For One as their leader. The League of Villains had something we didn’t, a moral boost. They had their figurehead, while our Symbol of Peace was nothing but a walking skeleton, and our number 1 hero was an abusive asshole. Even Tomura, the creepy handy guy, looked like he could fight without panicking or having one of his existential emo attacks.

Us, the students, were the ones with the highest moral. And that, in a decisive battle, wasn’t really encouraging. But I couldn’t see that back then. I was desperate for enacting my revenge on those who kidnaped me and made a fool out of me. I still was sore about the fact that I had to be rescued by 2 people I didn’t really like, a girl whose name I couldn’t remember, Hair for Brains and fucking Deku.

I, thus, was reckless. Stupidly so. I took risks which sometimes paid off, and sometimes didn’t. I brought down ten villains on my own, but both my legs were broken and my sweat was mixing with my blood, making my explosions become weaker and inconsistent. My situation was absolutely dire. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t fight, but even in that state I was throwing explosions left and right and shouting stupid and incoherent shit.

Before anyone could take me out of the battlefield to get medical attention, All For One stood before me, silencing me with his towering presence. I couldn’t make what his expression meant, because his face looked nothing like a human. But I know what expression I had: fear. He had finished whipping the floor with Deku, Half ‘n’ Half and Aizawa and had left them bleeding a couple of feet away from me.

I don’t remember what his exact words were, but I do remember the subject: he was fascinated with my Quirck. I knew what that meant, I knew what his powers were. I had two seconds to enter in a state of despair, I didn’t want to lose my quirk.

I realized, in those two seconds my brain worked as hard as it had never before, that in all my life the only thing that defined me as a person was my quirk. It was the fact that I was naturally stronger than everybody. And what had I made with that power? What had I archived?

I pushed away and bullied the living shit out of my best childhood friend because he was powerless. I let my anger and hatred dominate me because I knew no one would dare say a thing in fear I would blown their faces away. I had no close or real friends.

What was without my quirk then? An angry fuckboy. I was smart, but not smart enough. I wasn’t friendly, I wasn’t wise, I didn’t care much about others than my family and Kirishima occasionally. I was nothing.

But I didn’t lose my powers. Before All For One’s quirk could make effect on me, a bloody figure stood between me and him. Deku. The person I had all my life told was worth nothing, whom I had considered a useless nerd. The person I identified weakness with. The person I absolutely didn’t want to become.

In an All Might fashion he got to give All for One one 100% punch to the face knocking him out. But the damage was done. After delivering the damage, and thus breaking his arm in a million pieces, he immediately noticed he couldn’t use his quirk anymore. Or… better put, he didn’t have his quirk anymore.

Deku’s punch was the decisive point of no return for the villains. The moral of both pro heroes and students was lifted; there was even a silent comment that Deku was the new symbol of peace and all. It was a joke, but people for a second believed it and fought as if they had a new All Might. They didn’t know he was quirkless again. That didn’t stop him though. His broken limbs didn’t stop him either. He dragged himself through the floor with tears in his eyes closer to me. There was worry in his eyes.

He asked me if I was okay.

I started crying too.

One week later, one by one everybody in our class started leaving the hospital. Most of us were in intensive care, and there weren’t many chances for us to talk to each other. With the help of Recovery Girl and other medical heroes which came from all over Japan to take care of us, most of us were recovering fast. Everybody except, of course, Deku.

Not only his arm was broken in a million pieces, and no procedure would bring it back 100% to normal. His quirk was gone, definitely, irrevocably, gone.

My room was next to his. Every day I spent in that god awful place I walked to his room, stood in front of his door, always with a different reason in my mind. Sometimes I wanted to shout at him for being so fucking stupid, why did he do that for me? I was nothing but a piece of shit to him anyway, he was proving nothing sacrificing himself for me. He was just an idiot. Sometimes I just wanted to go and apologize for everything. And sometimes I wanted to go, get on my knees and thank him from the bottom of my heart for saving me, even if the sole thought of doing that felt like hot nails being buried in my pride.

I didn’t have THE epiphany I would have later. But after the events which led him to lose his quirk for my sake I started manifesting my feelings more. This weren’t good news, since I was shit doing it.

Our beds were only separated by a thin wall. Every night he would cry. Sometimes they were only mute sobs, but sometimes it was a full force heartshattering cry which didn’t fail making me cry too. I didn’t have the courage to stand up and go to him. Even if I didn’t say anything, a little part of me knew that it wasn’t good that he was alone. But for all the strength I thought I had, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

His mother and All Might were allowed to visit him. Then it’s when the real crying started. His mother was relieved that he was fine, and told him many times how proud she was of him, how he was the best hero she had seen in her life, how she should’ve been on board with his dreams sooner. All Might gave the touching speech one would expect him to do. He told him that he made no mistake when he chose him as his successor, than the previous One for All holders would be proud of him, that he had surpassed them all in selflessness.

My mother also started coming to visit me, and after hearing what happened and not succeeding in making me go and thank Deku she went herself to kneel in front of him, a gesture that had them both crying. I heard it all through the wall.

I so wanted to be the one saying all of that. I wanted to go and tell him that I should’ve supported his dream of being a hero, because he was a far better one than myself. I should’ve told him that All Might paled in comparison to him. I should’ve been the one kneeling. But I didn’t have the courage.

I left the hospital a couple of days later. Classes returned back to normal, only with Deku’s seat empty. While all of this happened, every news station in the nation was celebrating Deku almost as if he was a national hero (which he technically was). Everybody in our class asked me if I knew how he was or when he was coming back. They didn’t know, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell them. Round Face, that freak with glasses and Half ‘n’ Half insisted more than the others, correctly deducing that I knew more than I let out.

But I didn’t get the chance to burst in anger out of my numbness and lash against them. Aizawa and All Might together one morning explained everybody everything. The nature of Deku’s power, the nature of All for One’s power, and what happened when he saved me.

To try and explain what happened later would be impossible, for I didn’t care much about the feelings of others. Some didn’t believe it and when immediately to Deku, only to find out it was true. The general feeling was depression and gloom. But, as I said, I don’t know or care how others felt.

I, on the other hand, was experiencing a new rainbow of shit in the form of emotions I never in my life felt.

First of all, I felt guilt. It was my fault that Deku was quirkless. He had to save me because I was reckless and made a mess of myself in the middle of a fight. My pride and hatred blinded me to the danger in front of me. I knew some of the others deep down thought that too, Icyhot and the Frog Girl were good examples of this. They didn’t even look at me anymore.

Second. I felt regret. I regretted how I treated Deku through the years. I regretted not having that friend, which I knew was the only real friend I had at that time, to share this burden with. I regretted having made his life a living hell all those years. I regretted not acknowledging his strength. I regretted not being able to go and see him, apologize and thank him like I should. I regretted pushing everybody in our class away, for now I was truly alone.

Third, I felt weak. If I had been just a tad stronger, I could’ve avoided this whole situation, and that fluff of green hair would be sitting behind me as usual, and I would have more chances to rebuild what I had broken. Who knew? If I had been stronger we could’ve been friends.

And lastly, I felt a new kind of visceral anger. It filled my veins with rage and hatred. It was like a fire burning deep in my chest, making everything sore and numb. Kirishima noticed, bless that guy. I didn’t snapped at people anymore, but not because I was becoming nicer, but because now my anger was going inwards, not outwards.

I was certainly more aggressive than before, and that became apparent during a joint training we did with the people from class 1B. I even went as far as punching Metalhead from class 1B through a wall and keep on doing it until my hands started bleeding.

Aizawa Sensei, Kirishima and some other extras had to drag me so I wouldn’t seriously hurt him. The guy only fainted, I on the other hand left the fight with all my fingers broken and a suspension that lasted for a whole week. Also, according to Hair For Brains I was crying and shouting nonsense about Deku. Which was… let’s say, embarrassing, at the very least.

Oh, also, Aizaka said that if I wanted to go on in UA I had to go to a therapist to sort out my “anger issues”. That also sucked. My mother agreed that I needed to see a therapist, and deep down so did I.

My first session with Dr. Retsu was a disaster. At first I didn’t speak and neither did she. She was just looking at me as if trying to decipher me. But that didn’t make me burn her office down. It was her succession of questions which threw me to the edge.

“I was briefed with your case, but there are some things I don’t understand” She finally said after half an hour of silence. “The report says your relationship with Izuku Midoriya was, to put it simply, shit. Yet you seem quite disturbed. Why is it? Is it because, even if he is, in your world view, clearly weaker than you he saved you?”

“This has nothing to do with Deku” I snapped with the same cold anger I had lived since the incident.

“I happen to believe it does” She said calmly while leaning forward. “I asked some of your fellow students to describe you; the general consensus is that you are not particularly good expressing any emotion other than anger. Then why are you expressing regret, guilt and, even sadness I dare to say, now that Izuku Midoriya is prostrated in a hospital bed?”

“I’m not feeling regret or any other shitty emotion like that!” I shouted angrily. “Did you get your tittle on amazon or something? Because you are shit! I want my fucking money back.”

“Your powers are amazing Bakugou” She said ignoring my burst of anger. “With them you can basically wrap the reality around you to make everything suit your needs, for what your mother told me you had made use of them to control everything around you since you were a child. It must be hard being faced with a situation you have no control over. Are you angry no amount of your power will be able to fix Midoriya or your relationship with him?”

And then I lost it. I started trashing everything while Dr. Retsu sat, not bothered by it, looking at me with attention while a made her bookshelves, her desk and the walls of her office blow to pieces. She only moved to comfort me. She had to comfort me because, when I finished making havoc in her office, I started crying my eyes out. She was right after all. After that I went to visit her twice a week. I even went as far as to apologize for breaking her office.

During all the time between the moment I left the hospital and the moment I decided to go to the therapist, Deku had his own personal growth montage.

When the rest of the class learnt what happened there wasn’t a day he spent alone. His four closest friends, Round Face, Frong girl, Icyhot and the Glasses freak spent every day with him. But the rest wasn’t far behind. Birdface, the French sissy and a couple of girls made it their personal goal to visit him at least once a week. Kirishima and the rest of his squad (except me of course) visited him every Tuesday and Thursday after practice.

Even the creepy guy from general studies, the creepy machine girl, TinTin-sempai and two annoying five year olds went to visit him in almost daily basis. While he was surrounded with love and affection, I buried myself deeper in my own regret. A feeling I could only share with an unknown therapist. It was progress nonetheless.

Which is why, when he made the decision to leave Japan and travel the world I only found out when he was already in a plane to Russia or Bosnia. At first I was angry at my classmates for not telling me, but as Kirishima noted, I had no right to know, since I had ignored him all that time. I realized in that moment that everybody resented me at least a little, and they were right.

The first success of my therapy was getting me to apologize to my class.

“I disappointed everyone” I said one morning going to the front of the class and bowing. “As it stands right now I’m a lousy excuse of a hero, and I don’t deserve the sacrifice Izuku did for me. But I’ll try to honour it” Every word felt like a stab to my ego, and even if I couldn’t see them I knew the faces everybody was making and that only enraged me, but I had to get this out of my system. “My behaviour in the past has been reprehensible and, although I’m working to change, I don’t think it will happen soon. So please forgive me and help me become a better person.”

I will not say what happened later, because I’m embarrassed still by it. I cannot believe I said all those things. My face was red while and after speaking. But the results were, as Dr. Retsu predicted, positive. Kirishima went as far as crying “manly” tears. Not everybody forgave my behaviour immediately, but their attitude towards me changed. They were more open and patient. I, in return, tried my best to bring the anger down a notch or two.

It was because I opened to people that I started getting news of Izuku. Ochako and the others would show me the pictures Izuku would send them of the amazing places he’d been to, and update me about what he was doing. They even encouraged me to talk to him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do so. I did follow him on instagram though.

He didn’t follow me back though, which is not really a surprise since he has like 76 and a half million followers. Oh. Did I miss that part of the tale? Well, fuck you, you should know by now.

He was told that if he wanted to use his arm again he had to start doing an activity that involved his fingers or else he was going to lose them forever. So he started playing the piano and the guitar as a hobby. And he was really good at it. At the beginning he would upload videos of him making covers and playing the ukulele in some weird place, like a grassy field in Argentina or over a coral reef in Australia.

He became popular in the niche of Indie and Folk singers. Soon he was no longer making videos but appearing in concerts of bigger singers as a support artist. He made a YouTube channel which grew within a year from 10K to 100K to a million subscribers. Then he skyrocketed. He started using his platform to talk about politics and the current state of heroism.

He defenestrated what Stain, the Hero Killer, had implanted in the heads of everyone long ago. With his videos, which were slowly getting millions upon millions of views and being quoted by every academic or news teller in the world, he slowly built up confidence for heroes again.

He agreed that heroes had to be, as Stain said, selfless. But that didn’t condone his actions, and it wasn’t like there weren’t enough selfless heroes around. If anything, by transforming heroes into commodities and not public servants, we had reduced them to something similar McDonald’s chains. In that world, the flashiest of heroes shone while the selfless ones withered away, because they weren’t the popular ones. He talked in lengths about Aizawa-Sensei, a rather dark hero, and all the times he sacrificed himself for our sake. Or how TinTin-Sempai saved a girl losing his quirk in the process. Or the many times heroes had selflessly acted without any consideration for fame.

Heroes, he said, had to get better at what they did, since it was the implicit oath they took as public servants. But it was the responsibility of the people to, on one hand, put their trust in them, and on the other, to raise the standards. No matter how high the standards were, heroes would overachieve, because they were the keepers of peace.

Those words changed the world. Public faith was once again placed in heroes. The popularity of heroes broke the roofs of every chart. And heroes answered accordingly. The standards had risen and the heroes were better. It was, in a twisted way, what Stain dreamed of. Only that Deku archived it through peace, not through killing everybody.

Izuku Midoriya was the hero of the hero community.

And while he did all that, he had the time to give the world great music. I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I say this. I love his music. After his first original EP, which became quite popular in our class, I waited patiently for him to publish a second one, then a third, then a whole album. It became a sort of tradition for our class to have Deku’s music blasting through the halls and rooms of our dorm.

Every piece of music he composed was better than the one that came before it. And that was for the better. Because through his music I realized what was buried so deep inside me. The reason I was so scared of him coming back, the reason I was so scared of talking to him again after all of those years, the twisted reason I was an asshole.

What I felt for my childhood friend was warm in my chest. But I did not dare to give a name to it.

 

*

 

“So. Why are you dreading Izuku coming home after all these years?”

I looked at her with a frown, but in reality I was at the verge of tears. “It was easier to make hypothetical scenarios of how I would talk to him after all of this time. Now that I’m going to face the real shit, I’m nervous.” I confessed. “And on the other hand… if everything goes as I want it to go, if Izuku has a place in his heart for me after all of… everything… then I don’t think I will believe I deserve it, because I don’t.”