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Twenty-Eight

It’s nearing four in the morning and they’re still an hour out from the city, another three from their actual apartment, when Izuku awakes up. He blinks sleepily in the faint light of the car, silent except for the faint roar of tires on asphalt. The countryside is incredibly dark, Tokyo a vague glow in the distance. And there’s more stars in the sky outside the windshield than he’s ever seen.

Beside him, Katsuki’s glaring at the dimly lit road as if he wants to set it on fire. When Izuku had offered to drive four hours ago, he’d been met with a prideful sneer and an adamant refusal. To be fair, Izuku rarely drives because he gets so nervous. Katsuki enjoys it, like he enjoys his new car, flashy red but compact enough for tiny side roads and quick enough to match his patience. But after nearing eight hours on the road, Izuku’s sure that Katsuki’s nearing the end of his rope.

“Kacchan,” he calls softly. Katsuki jerks a little, glancing wildly to the side at him before glaring even harder at the road.

“Fuck, Deku, don’t do that,” he hisses, his knuckles white on the steering wheel. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Sorry,” Izuku says. “Kacchan, why don’t you pull over. Let me drive for a while.”

Katsuki’s silent for a long moment, evidence to how tired he really was. They’d been up the entire day before, finishing with a undercover case in a separate prefecture that Izuku had been called in on the week before.

“You don’t like driving,” Katsuki mumbles, finally. “Too damn nervous.”

Izuku gives him a small smile. “It’s early still, so their won’t be a lot of traffic, even by the time we get home. I’ll be fine.”

With a sigh, Katsuki relents and pulls over onto the shoulder, grumbling as they switch seats. Izuku takes a deep breath of the summer night before climbing behind the wheel. He smiles as Katsuki yawns widely and leans the seat further back. He tugs at Katsuki’s sleeve, meeting a tired glare with a sheepish grin until Katsuki begrudgingly leans up and pecks Izuku on the lips.

“Don’t fuck up my car,” he says around another yawn, flopping back.

Chucking, Izuku turns the radio on just a little, music playing quietly in the background. “Good night, Kacchan,” he says, softly. Katsuki doesn’t reply, already nodding off beside him.

Izuku pulls off, singing a little under his breath whenever a song he knows comes on. Above the treetops, the stars wink out one by one as the sun rises and the sky turns pale pink and yellow. The trees themselves thin out and the wooden houses begin to grow closer together. By the time they reach Metro Tokyo, the street lights are flickering off and early morning commuters join him on the road. Izuku nervously navigates around traffic, and breathes a quiet sigh of relief when he reaches their neighborhood.

When they're finally parked in their parking garage, he leans all the way over and smooshes a kiss into Katsuki’s cheek. “Wake up, Kacchan, we’re home!” he whisper-yells, cheerily grinning when Katsuki blinks up at him.

Katsuki groans and wraps his arms around Izuku, nearly pulling him out of the driver’s seat. “Let me sleep, Deku. Just a few more minutes.”

“You can have a few more minutes here, or the rest of the day in bed,” Izuku offers, struggling to get out of Katsuki’s hold. “I’ll even carry you up the stairs.”

Katsuki groans again and releases him. He kicks open his door before turning to look at Izuku expectantly, taking the pro-offered set of keys. Izuku huffs a laugh and gets out of the car, bypassing the trunk with their travel bags and gear. He can come down for them later. He rounds the car, smirking at Katsuki’s tried glare before crouching in front of the open door. Katsuki practically falls out of the car and on top of him, arms wrapped securely around his shoulders as Izuku hefts him onto his back. They look more than a little ridiculous, with Katsuki’s long limbs hanging off him. But Katsuki doesn’t seem to mind, burying his head in Izuku’s neck as Izuku nudges the door closed with his hip. Izuku gently bounces him a little further up his back before heading to the stairwell, crouching again so Katsuki can unlock it for them.

“Why don’t we have a fucking elevator from the damn garage,” he complains into Izuku’s neck, even though Izuku barely jostles him as he lazily jogs up the siz flights of stairs, past the level with the elevator. When they reach their door, Katsuki drops the keys on the carpet. “Oops,” he says, without any remorse at all.

Izuku huffs, bending double so Katsuki can pick them back up to unlock the door. He tries not to trip as he toes off his shoes and Katsuki struggles out of his, despite still being on Izuku’s back.

“Tatoru,” he calls. “We’re home!”

His greeting is met by a soft mrow, and a tortoiseshell cat shyly peeks around the corner at them. Izuku obligingly bends over again, so Katsuki can gather her up against Izuku’s chest to coos at her as Izuku carries them through the apartment. He glances a welcome home note from Ochako, “I’m going to steal your cat next time I have to babysit her! She’s way too sweet to live with Bakugou,” along with the spare key on their counter, before heading straight for the bedroom.

Katsuki slides off his back, gently dropping Tatoru on the ground and faceplants into the mattress with a loud groan.

“Never. Fucking. Again,” he yells into the sheets.

Izuku snorts, shucking his jeans. “You’re the one who wanted to drive there.”

Katsuki growls, face still pressed into the mattress. “Thought it’d be fun,” is about the only thing Izuku can decipher from the muffled complains. When Izuku climbs under the covers, Katsuki uses him to pull himself the rest of the way up the bed, before sprawling across Izuku. He smacks him gently on the face with is palm. “Good night, nerd.”

Izuku snorts, squirming to get comfy. Dawn has left them behind and the sun sits brightly in the sky, streaming through their windows. Totaru leaps onto the windowsill, her tail curling around her feet, and watches them from her perch.

Happiness flutters in his chest, and he can't stop the wide smile growing on his face. “Good night, Kacchan,” he murmurs into Katsuki’s flyaway blonde hair.

Katsuki snores in response.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Four and Twenty-Three

“For once, can’t you give me some nice advice, Bakugou?” Denki sighs over the phone, sounding too desperate and too pathetic.

Katsuki growls into the receiver, already tired of hearing the past ten minutes of whining. “Listen you electric idiot, if you’re sick of being a sidekick, grow some fucking balls and switch companies.”

“But I like it hereee!”

Katsuki’s sigh is more of a roar, as he switches the phone to the other ear to get a better grasp on the department store bag, his and Izuku’s bentos for the night sitting neatly at the bottom. It’s a bit of a ritual for the two of them. When Izuku has a day shift and Katsuki the night, or the rare vice versa, they would always eat dinner together before one of them had to head in to their respective headquarters. Whether it was something quick at the convenience store or sitting down at a restaurant, neither dared to miss that sacred time together. Night shifts were always hard, but seeing Izuku before he went out made it okay.

And now, in the past two weeks in their new apartment, Katsuki’s been living in something bordering on bliss. He enjoys it more than he’s willing to say, and will never admit to the giddiness that rises in his chest when he makes his way to their new home. Since they’re finally living together, they get to see each other even more. Katsuki can cook for them if he feels like when he wakes up, and then crawl back into bed the next morning for a cuddle before Izuku needs to get ready for the day.

He’d woken up today feeling lazy however, and had made his way to the nearest department store for take away. Heading back, the summer night is warm and the streets relatively empty for a Thursday evening. It would have been nice, if Denki hadn’t called him to bitch.

Clucking his tongue, he says, “Then be a goddamn sidekick for the rest of your fucking life and stop asking circular questions!”

“So mean, Bakugou. What would Midoriya-chan say?”

“Probably punch you for calling him that.”

“He would never! Deku loves me more than anyone!”

“You’re barely in the top ten.”

“How dare you!” Denki cries, with a mock gasp. “Deku and I, we have a special bond that you just can’t understand because you’re grumpy and mean.”

“Do you want my fucking advice or not, shit head?” Katsuki snaps.

Denki cackles. “Aw, you’re living together, but you still get so jealous, Kacchan .”

“I’m hanging up.”

“No, wa—!”

Katsuki huffs and slides his phone into his back pocket. A tiny, soft meow stops him in his tracks. He looks down to see the mangiest little kitten he’s ever seen in his life. It trembles, looking up at him with wide, blue eyes, matted fur missing in huge clumps on its tiny little body.

It meows up at him again, and flinches away when his phone starts to ring. Katsuki answers it without looking away, and interrupts when Denki starts to yell at him.

“Do you think Deku likes cats?”

Denki pauses for a moment. “You’re… buying Deku a cat?”

“Not buying,” Katsuki says, crouching down and gently rubbing the kitten’s head. It doesn’t run, but mews pathetically.

“Aw, is the mighty Bakugou saving kittens from trees now? So manly!” Denki crows. “Kirishima would be in complete awe right now.”

“That’s why I like Kirishima better than you.”

“Hey!”

Katsuki scoops the kitten up, holding it against his chest, and it comes willingly, purring loudly. “Did you need something, shit face?” he says into the phone, trying to juggle it and his bag without disturbing the little kitten in his arms. “Because I’m a little busy now.”

“Nope, just wanted to bug you some more for hanging up on me. I’m going to talk to one of my higher ups tomorrow, so cheer me on! And have fun with the pussy, kitten tamer!”

“Fuck you—” Denki hangs up on him. “Fucker.”

He’s washing the kitten in the sink when Izuku gets home. It’s too weak to really struggle against him, but it still sinks its claws into this thumbs and howls pathetically like he’s killing it.

“I’m home,” Izuku calls hesitantly over the yowling.

“Welcome back,” Katsuki replies, rubbing the small amount of dish soap the internet had said was allowed. Izuku sidles up to him, already cooing over it. “Happy early birthday. It reminded me of you. All weak and pathetic and begging for my attention.”

Izuku pinches his side. “Mean,” he says. “It’s so cute though. Where’d you find it?”

“On the street. It’s actually ugly as fuck, but I’ll assume you can’t tell because of the soap, you nerd.”

“So mean!” Izuku complains, but he’s grinning. “You saved a kitten for me,” he coos at him, smacking a kiss on Katsuki’s cheek. Katsuki turns to catch the second one on the lips, leaning further into it so he can feel Izuku’s smile against him. The kitten retaliates by sinking it’s teeth in Katsuki’s wrist. Backing off of Izuku’s kisses, he glares down at it.

“I’ll put you back out on the streets,” he threatens.

“Nooo, Kacchan, she’s just scared. You’re using warm water and just a little bit of soap, right?”

Katsuki sneers at him. “Of course,” he says, like it was obvious and he didn’t have to look it up. By the way Izuku’s smirking at him, Katsuki isn’t confident that he got away with it.

“I’ll take her to the vet in the morning,” Izuku says as he takes over the impromptu kitten bath, cupping water in his hand to gently rinse her. “But that means I won’t be here when you get in.”

Katsuki doesn’t pout. “Fine.”

“We’ll go together this weekend to buy her some things, though. You can even name her!” he says, sweetly, as if he’s trying to console Katsuki.

“She’s your present, dumbass. You name her. And when did we decide she was a she.”

Izuku huffs. “Because she’s obviously a lady, Kacchan, can’t you tell? Aren’t you, sweetie?” he coos, gently toweling her off. He inspects the bald patches, biting his lip in sympathy. “You should wash your hands well and throw your clothes in the washing machine. I don’t think she has scabies since her patches aren’t raw, but she might, poor thing. Oh! We’ll call you Tatoru!”

Katsuki stares blankly at him for a moment as he pulls off his shirt. “You’re going to name your cat turtle.”

“Well, her patches are shaped on her back like a little turtle shell!”

“And everyone says I’m the mean one.”

Pinching Katsuki’s bare side, Izuku pouts at him. “Plus, it looks like she a tortoiseshell cat. I can’t really tell because of the missing fur, but the colors are there.”

Katsuki snorts. “Whatever you say. I still think it’s cruel. She’ll always think of her horrible childhood when you call for her.”

“Or she’ll remember the handsome young man that picked her up turned out to be a big jerk,” Izuku says, sticking his tongue out at Katsuki. After thoroughly washing his hands, he wraps Tatoru up in a fluffy blanket and holds her in his lap when they sit down to eat. “I guess we’re going to keep her then?” he asks, a little timid.

“Well, I didn’t bring her home to eat her.” Izuku flicks some rice at him. “Maybe she’ll clean up after your horrible eating habits,” Katsuki says, brushing the food off his shirt and glaring at him.

Izuku laughs, and it’s bright and loud and fills the room, and never fails to make Katsuki’s heart beat a little faster. Tatoru purrs loudly in Izuku’s lap, curled tightly inside her blanket cocoon and kneading at it with her tiny claws. It’s a big apartment, Katsuki thinks. And when they’re on opposite shifts, it feels a little lonely. It’s only been two weeks, but he’s already addicted to Izuku’s morning face and Izuku’s messy teeth brushing and Izuku’s habit of hanging off of him while Katsuki cooks. It’s hard to come home and curl around Izuku, only for Izuku to rise a few minutes later.

Katsuki leans over and kisses Izuku’s cheek, rubbing his face into Izuku’s curly hair. “We’ll keep her. I’m not happy that I’ll have to share you with her, though,” he murmurs behind Izuku’s ear, smiling when it blushes red. Izuku pushes his face away with his palm, and Katsuki hides his grin in it.

“Stop that,” Izuku whines, ducking his head to hide his blush. “You shouldn’t have brought her home then, meanie.”

“Hmmm,” Katsuki hums, laying his head on Izuku’s shoulder. They look down at the sleeping kitten in Izuku’s lap, curled into a tight ball and mostly hidden by the fluffy blanket. “I think she’ll fit in just fine.”

Chapter Text

Seventeen and Sixteen

The dorms are empty in the common area, a usual occurrence for a Saturday in May, when they’re in the middle of their first term and there’s time for a little relaxation. But while everyone else is out enjoying the spring afternoon, Izuku is taking full advantage of the quiet commons to get in some extra studying. He sits on the floor, leaning against the couch with his books and notes spread across the short table, the television turned low on a news channel as he reviews his maths homework. He’s so absorbed that Izuku doesn’t notice Katsuki enter the room until he flops onto the couch behind Izuku’s head, startling him.

“Oh! Kacchan. Um, hey,” he greets Katsuki, trying to calm the sudden accelerated beating of his heart.

Katsuki grunts and gestures for the remote, which Izuku obligingly hands to him. Izuku turns back to his work, bending low over it to hide his face. He tries to focus on the formulas, but Katsuki’s so close that Izuku can feel it every time Katsuki shifts on the cushions, even the heat coming off of him and. Katsuki doesn’t pay him any attention, flipping quickly through channels, not stopping long enough to see what’s on.

Izuku debates switching seats to a different side of the table. He fidgets with the pencil in his hand, deftly twirling it between his fingers. He’s too hyper-aware of Katsuki’s closeness. They usually never sit so close together. He doesn’t really want to move away.

He’s so wrapped up in his own thoughts, he almost misses Katsuki’s quiet, “Deku.”

The pencil goes flying across the room. Ignoring it as it clatters to the floor and looking over his shoulder to where Katsuki’s sprawled across the couch, too close, way too close, Izuku gives him a nervous, little smile. “Yes?”

“Do you have any plans for dinner?” Katsuki mumbles, eyes glued to the television.

“Um,” Izuku says, uncertain. “Not really. I was just going to make some cup ramen…” He tries not to watch Katsuki chew on his bottom lip, instead staring somewhere above Katsuki’s ear.

“Want to go get actual ramen with me?” Katsuki asks, still mumbling. They stare at each other, before Katsuki’s face explodes red and he sits straight up, nearly knocking Izuku over on the floor. “As friends! Nothing else!” he yells, palms sparking and smoking in front of him.

The shouting and explosions do nothing to deter the beaming smile and giddy joy that spreads across Izuku’s face. “Friends? Really?!”

Katsuk gapes at Izuku, face growing even redder, before Katsuki smacks himself in the forehead. Hard. “Yes, Deku, friends,” he groans. “Fuck, just, yeah. Whenever you’re ready, let’s go.”

“Oh! I actually didn’t eat lunch,” Izuku says, bouncing where he sits. “We could go now.”

“That’s fucking unhealthy, you shit,” Katsuki says lowly. Izuku just grins while he glares at him. “Sure, we can go now.”

Izuku doesn’t bother replying, rushing to gather up his books and notes and dashing up the stairs to his room. He runs back quickly, meeting Katsuki’s wide-eyed stare with a grin, laughing a little when the blond boy ducks his head and spins around. They step out into the bright spring afternoon, and Katsuki points them towards the nearby shopping district.

Katsuki walks sedately, unhurried, beside Izuku, and it makes Izuku’s stomach flutter, realizing that Katsuki actually meant to invite him and isn’t rushing to get it over with. They don’t chat, but it doesn’t feel awkward to Izuku, who can’t stop grinning.

“Why are you fucking smiling so much?” Katsuki eventually grumbles, side-eyeing Izuku.

“I’m just really happy! We haven’t hung out like this, just us, since we were four!” Izuku says. “So, I’m really glad that you invited me.”

Katuski turns his head completely to the side, neck suspiciously red, and hissing, “Fuck, you’re so goddamn embarrassing.”

Leaning into Katski's space, Izuku frowns a little. “Sorry, did I say something wrong.”

For a long moment, Katsuki refuses to face him, twisting away when Izuku rounds on him, walking backwards in front of Katsuki to try and meet his eyes. He glares steadfastly at the ground, dodging away anytime Izuku moves closer. “No,” he eventually snaps. “Stop walking like that, before you run into someone.”

Izuku pouts at him, twisting gracefully around back to Katsuki’s side. “I’m not so clumsy anymore, Kacchan.”

“I noticed.”

“OIII! BAKUGOU! MIDORIYA!” comes a shout from across the street. Denki, Hanta, and Mina wave enthusiastically as Ejirou sprints across the road and tackles Katsuki, dragging him away. He ignores Katuski’s shout of “STOP JAYWALKING, SHITTY HAIR.” Izuku gapes a little as Ejirou struggles with Katsuki, skin hardened against Katsuki’s explosions and yelling. “Sorry, Midoriya, I’m just going to borrow him real fast,” he says over the shouting, with a wide smile.

“Uh,” Izuku says, as Katsuki’s hauled off. “Sure?”

“Don’t worry about it, Midoriya,” Denki says around his laughter. Mina and Hanta are cackling, leaning on Denki as they cross the road. “Eji’s just meddling. What are you guys up to?”

Izuku smiles a little nervously at the trio, trying to ignore the shouting match going on behind him. “Oh, we’re just going to get ramen,” he says, stomach twisting a little. “Um. Are you all going to be joining us?” All three of them stare, faces going a little pale.

“Us?!” Hanta gapes at him.

“Nope!” Mina squeaks. “Not us, nope.”

Denki chuckles nervously. “No, we have, um…” he stutters, glancing to his friends who gesture wildly at him. “Really important things to do. You know, homework.”

Relief floods Izuku, leaving him blushing. “Oh. Midnight’s essay, right?”

This time, their faces go completely white. “Essay?” Denki shrieks, rounding on the two boys down the street, and all three of them go dashing towards them. “Bakugou! What essay?”

“Essay?!” Ejirou yells back, clinging to Katsuki. “Bakugou! What essay?!”

Katsuki finally manages to extricate himself from Ejirou’s hardened grip. “Fucking idiots! You had two weeks!” he sneers when all four corner him, whining. “Fuck, I’ll help you later, just fuck off for now and get started, you damn idiots,” he shouts, palms sparking as they dash away.

“Thanks in advanced, dude,” Ejirou calls over his shoulder as they retreat. “Good luck on your daaate!”

Katsuki snarls as Izuku approaches his side, watching the four turn a corner back towards the dorm. Izuku’s still smiling, even as his stomach starts to twist again. “Do you have a date later?” he asks. Katsuki’s face goes a deep, distressing shade of red. “Sorry, should I not have asked?”

“No!” Katsuki snaps, staring at Izuku in alarm, his shoulder squared and hunched around his shoulders. “I have no dates with anyone at any point forever.”

“Oh,” Izuku says, the uncertainty in his smile disappearing. “That’s good.”

“Yes!” Katsuki says, automatically, relaxing. “Uh. I mean, don’t fucking listen to that asshole. He’s just messing with me.”

“If you say so.”

“I do fucking say so. Let’s— Let’s just go,” he says, setting back off to the ramen shop just down the road. Izuku jogs back to Katuski’s side, pressing in close as they enter the slightly crowded restaurant. Katsuki doesn’t brush him off like Izuku expected, and gently bumps shoulders with Izuku as he hands him the little paper menu.

“Are you getting your’s super spicy, Kacchan?” Izuku asks, filling in his order.

“Of fucking course. I only like eating here because I can get it as spicy as I want. It’s way too fucking popular otherwise.” Izuku chuckles and turns to put his order into the machine to get his ticket, when Katsuki grabs him. “No!” he snaps, and blushes when Izuku stares at him, alarmed. “No, it’s my treat. So… One ticket.”

“Oh!” Izuku squeaks, face growing hot. “You don’t have to do that!”

Katsuki still hasn’t let go of Izuku’s wrist, face flushed and glaring. “I want to! So, just fucking let me!”

Izuku stares back, and they’re both blushing. He swallows nervously. “Then… You have to let me treat you next time, okay?”

“Fine! Fucking next time!”

Suddenly, they can’t look at each other, eyes shifting to the side, as Izuku puts his order under Katsuki’s ticket, trying and failing to suppress a pleased smile. Katsuki snatches the ticket the machine spits out, and tugs Izuku away to a back booth, fingers still firmly around Izuku’s wrist. Happiness bubbles in Izuku’s chest, and the smile spreads into a grin that stretches his cheeks. Across the table, Katsuki looks to the side, leaning his face in his free palm, a little pink blush still dusting his cheekbones, fingers still wrapped lightly around Izuku’s wrist.

“Stop fucking smiling so much,” Katsuki murmurs.

“Sorry Kacchan.”

Katsuki doesn’t let go until their food comes, the warmth of his fingers like a brand lingering on his skin.

Chapter Text

Eighteen

The classroom is in absolute chaos, and it pisses Katsuki off more than he’s prepared to admit. It’s loud and noisy, his classmates gathered in boisterous little clusters, talking excitedly and taking selfies. Not to mention the amount of waterworks going on. Ejirou is already on his second round of crying all over people, currently clutching Aizawa’s arm and sobbing. Aizawa for his part is staring dispassionately into the distance, letting his student cling to him and murmuring a bored, “There, there,” at random intervals. Tenya’s arms are a flurry of motion, trying to get the class into order for the procession, despite the stream of emotional tears pouring down his face. All the girls are huddled together, chattering and grinning despite a few red eyes among them.

Fortunately, most of them have left Katsuki to himself where he’s standing near his desk with his arms folded, glaring at all of them. He feels too jittery, excited but nervous. It’s not a feeling that he’s used to, but something that has grown and blossomed out from middle of his chest over the months as graduation nears. Apartment hunting, course schedules, and sidekick applications have plagued him throughout his rare free time around finals and daily training.

Now they’re packed in their classroom with another half an hour before the ceremony, and his entire class has gone nuts. Ejirou finally releases their teacher and starts to head his way, so Katsuki retreats into the hall, shoving Sero towards the teary red-head as a buffer and obstacle to ensure his escape.

The hallways are empty, all the classes in their respective homerooms, getting ready for the graduation ceremony.

Empty, except for one student walking aimlessly down the hall and focused on trying to tye his tie. Katsuki watches him for a moment, trying to hide his smile.

“Oi, Deku,” he calls.

Izuku’s head snaps up. “Kacchan!” he greets, his smile wide and contagious. “What are you doing out here?”

“Getting away from that crying bastard in there. He’s already soaked my shirt once, but it seems like he’s after round two,” he says as Izuku approaches. “He acts like none of us are ever going to see each again.”

“Well, he’s not too wrong,” Izuku says absentmindedly, still fiddling with his tie. “Everyone going to different universities or different cities. Aoyama-kun is flying out for France next week. But, I think everyone’s pretty committed to staying in touch.”

Katsuki watches him struggle for a little longer with the loose ends, before huffing. “Come here. Let me fix it.”

Izuku flushes, but he releases them to Katsuki. “Thanks, Kacchan,” he says with a sheepish grin.

“Three years, and you still can’t tie a tie,” Katsuki mutters, flipping Izuku’s collar up and adjusting the lengths, ignoring the trail of goosebumps his fingertips leave on the warm skin of Izuku’s neck. He smirks. “Where the hell have you been, anyways? You left me to the wolves.”

“Talking with All Might,” he says, squirming under Katsuki’s fingers, face turning even redder.

“Probably more like crying with All Might.” Izuku pouts at him. Katsuki knots the red uniform tie, sliding it gently up towards Izuku’s neck. “Is that good?”

Smiling softly, Izuku nods, letting Katsuki continue to straighten the tie and then his jacket lapels, not even flinching in surprise when Katsuki’s fingers comb through his hair to tame the curls. Katsuki’s touches are usually few and far between, but he’ll admit to being extra handsy lately. After this, they won’t be seeing each other every day. They won’t be in the same dorms, or the same school, or even in the same part of the city. For the first time since forever, they won’t be together.

Katsuki lets his fingers fall from Izuku’s barely tamed curls, his hands falling gently to Izuku’s shoulders. They’re standing closer than Katsuki remembers, chest to chest, only a few inches apart, and Izuku’s eyes are wide and green. He bites his lips, and Katsuki can’t drag his eyes away. He doesn’t realize he’s leaning closer until Tenya’s shout shocks them apart.

There goes your last chance, he tries not to think to himself.

“It’s time to line up, you two!” their class representative calls, leaning out the classroom door, hands chopping through the air rapidly.

Ochako smacks his shoulder. “Iida-kun! You ruined it, how could you?!” she cries, shoving him back into the classroom. Mina trails behind them, waving her phone at them with a smirk. Katsuki hadn’t even realized they were in the hallway.

“Mind your damn business, you nosey bastards!” Katsuki shouts after them, face flushed.

Laughing, Izuku hooks his arm with Katsuki’s and drags him to their places, chattering quietly to Katsuki as they head out for the auditorium in two lines. He’s warm at Katsuki’s back, walking close, and Katsuki can’t stop twisting around to look at him and growling at Tenya whenever he yells at him to face forward.

As they leave their homeroom, Touru waves her phone in his face, a blurry photo of Katsuki with his fingers in Izuku’s hair shared in a text message. She ducks away, giggling when he roars at her.

Aizawa threatens to restrain him for the entirety of the graduation ceremony.

While Izuku is distracted with their seating, Ejirou leans across the aisle to smack a hand down onto Katsuki’s shoulder and shows him the same photo on his phone. With an encouraging smile and a wink, he whispers, “Don’t worry, it’s not your last chance. Plus Ultra, explosion boy!” He dances back and away from Katsuki’s screeching and explosions, the two of them getting glares from the other classes and teachers around them. Izuku snatches his sleeve and pulls him bodily down into his seat before Aizawa can make good on his threat.

“Everyone’s so lively,” Izuku says, smiling. They’re pressed shoulder to shoulder, and Katsuki’s ire melts out of him in an instant. “I really hope this won’t be our last time all together.”

Katsuki stares at Izuku’s little, nostalgic smile and takes a chance, hooking his pinky finger with Izuku’s and turning away to hide his blush.

“It won’t be,” he says.

Chapter Text

Twenty-One

Katsuki was not bouncing his leg impatiently, or nervously, or at all, outside of the train station entrance. He definitely hadn’t been glared at for pacing the length of the sidewalk either. And, at the moment, he certainly isn’t checking his phone for the eighth time in the past three minutes.

Deku 16:03 – Please dress comfortably! Meet you at the station at 17:30? I’m really excited! ୧☉□☉୨

He regrets arriving nearly half an hour early, especially since the station was just down the street from his apartment. There is still twenty minutes to wait. Twenty minutes is easily enough time for Katsuki to sweat through his shirt — his shirt that was absolutely NOT painstakingly picked out, after several hours of debate and Mina’s final stamp of approval, just to show off Katsuki’s arms and shoulders.

His stomach flutters, and he hopes he doesn’t barf.

“Kacchan!” comes a call, and Katsuki can’t stop from jerking, eyes darting around. Izuku is grinning and a little breathless, his face pink behind the ever-growing smattering of freckles.

Before Katsuki can let himself smile back, he fixes his face in a scowl, trying to stamp down the sudden giddy tingling in his gut. “Deku, you’re too damn early! You didn’t skip out on your shift, did you?”

“Senpai said he’d cover for me!” Izuku says, a little affronted. “I did it for him when he had a date, so he offered to do the same for me. I only left a few minutes early! And you still got here before me!”

Katsuki flushes. “Shut up,” he growls, shoving his hands in his pockets to discreetly wipe at his sweaty palms. Rolling his eyes, Izuku sidles up beside him with a exasperated smile, pressing their arms together from shoulder to elbow.

“So, should I tell you what we’re doing,” he asks. His eyes are sparkling and mischievous, his smile a little crooked, his cheeks still a little pink. Katsuki feels his face steadily heat up in response as he stares back. Izuku leans in even closer. “Or should I surprise you? It is our first date, after all.”

“Whatever!” Katsuki nearly shouts, turning away. “Let’s just go already, fuck!”

Izuku laughs and hooks his arm through Katsuki’s elbow, dragging him through the crowded streets. “Okay! I’ll surprise you then! Let’s have a lot of fun, okay?”

Katsuki’s stomach gives another unpleasant wiggle, but lets himself be pulled along regardless. Izuku chatters away as he looks between the directions on his phone and their surroundings. A few passersby call out their hero names, but Izuku just gives them a polite smile and wave as he tugs Katsuki along. When they finally stop in front of a run-down curry restaurant, the wiggles stop. It’s a tiny little establishment, tucked away down a few side streets and hidden in between a convenience store and an arcade.

He raises a brow at Izuku, but Izuku only smiles excitedly back, leaning in close to whisper, “They have the spiciest curry in the entire district.”

“I don’t believe you,” Katsuki says.

“You have to sign a waiver!” Izuku says, practically vibrating against his side and grinning wide enough to break his face. He shoves his phone into Katsuki’s face. “Look, even that food blogger you like says that it’s the spiciest he’s eaten in Tokyo!”

Scowling, Katsuki squints at the blog post on Izuku’s phone, before marching into the restaurant. “We’ll see about that.”

One large bowl of curry and eighteen glasses of water later, they step back out into the afternoon air, dusk just barely settling on the city. “I fucking live here,” Katsuki fumes, wiping the sweat from his face with a napkin. “How the fuck did I not know about this place? They must have the shittiest marketer ever, what the fuck.”

Izuku completely ignores him, staring wide-eyed in no particular direction. “How did you even eat all of it?” Izuku says faintly. “My tongue still has a numb spot.”

“Shitty nerd, you only dipped the tip of your chopstick in it.”

“I thought I was going to die.”

“Wuss.” Something warm and pleasant settles in the pit of his stomach that has nothing to do with the food, his nerves completely demolished. Izuku pouts at him. “Where the hell are we going next?”

“You said to leave it as a surprise!”

“I’m pretty sure I said ‘whatever,’ so.”

“Just wait,” Izuku says. Katsuki stares in disbelief as they come to a halt in front of a tall building. “What? It’ll be fun I promise!”

“An indoor theme park?” Katsuki tries and fails to hide his sneer, glaring at a dancing tiger mascot that had started to wobble their way. It immediately totters off into a different direction. “Isn’t this for little kids?”

“Just wait!” Izuku whines. He races off to the ticket stand, exchanging a few words with the attendant there. She glances over at him briefly and smirks at him as she exchanges the tickets with Izuku.

When Izuku comes back, Katsuki hisses at him. “There better not be anything cheesy planned, like serenades or cake or whatever.”

Izuku rolls his eyes. “Kacchan, do you really think that I would do that for our first date?” he says, leading Katsuki through the doors and into the dark, cool interior of the theme park. “That’s more like, a six month anniversary kind of thing, right?” Katsuki swallows down on the sudden resurgence of the fluttering in his stomach. “I promise you’ll really like this!”

They walk through a maze of halls, Izuku leading the way, until they reach a booth with another attendant. He takes their tickets with a bored look, before ushering them into a room lit with black lights with a tired, “No quirks allowed.” Katsuki pauses, staring at the gear along the walls.

“No way.”

With his teeth lit up neon white beneath the black lights, Izuku grins. “It’s new! There’s a huge obstacle course, and a prize at the end for the team with the most points!”

Katsuki can’t help but grinning back, already strapping on the intricate vest and plastic gun. “Fuck yes, I’m going to demolish you, shitty Deku.” Izuku’s smile only falters slightly, before Katuski’s hurriedly trying to fix his mistake, shouting, “I mean in points, you shit nerd! I’m not teaming up with anyone else here, they all look completely useless compared to you!”

A few of the lazer-tag goers shoot him a glare, but it doesn’t matter even a little bit when Izuku’s smile grows. “Kacchan, I think that’s probably the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“That was not even kind of nice,” Katuski says, bluntly. “I’m not that much of an asshole, am I?”

Izuku gapes back, waving his hands frantically. “Of course not! You’re very sweet, you just don’t often say it in words.”

Katsuki tries not to slap himself too hard, already opening his mouth to force out an apology when a loud voice interrupts him, calling over the speakers. “Alright players! It’s time to start!” Their vests light up red, each team a different color. “If you haven’t read the rules, you better start studying! The team to beat tonight is team red, both players of those players are worth triple the points. But! If team red wins, they win an extra special prize, along with a year pass to the theme park! Countdown starts now. Good luck everyone!”

Dumbfounded and ignoring all the eyes on them, Katsuki turns to glare at Izuku. “You planned this.”

“It’s no fun if it isn’t a real competition right?” Izuku says with a determined grin.

Katsuki’s glare morphs into a sinister smirk, stretching hungrily across his face. “I guess there’s no arguing with that. Let’s blow them away!” he roars, and the two dash off into battlefield.

It’s some odd ninety minutes later when they emerge onto the darkened streets, a little sweaty but victorious, with a vintage set of All Might comic books under their arms and a huge tiger plush draped over Katsuki’s shoulder, bickering over how best to split the books.

Eventually they meander towards the river that cuts through the city center, a junction that splits between the direction towards the train station and Katsuki’s apartment building. Katsuki finds himself not wanting to leave, lingering close as they begin to slow to a stop near the bridge that would take Izuku away for the rest of the night. He desperately racks his brain for something to keep Izuku near, for just a little longer, even though they both have classes early the next morning.

“I’ll walk you home!” Izuku declares, saving him from having to come up with some bullshit excuse. He’s smiling bashfully at Katsuki, and Katsuki wonders if his cheeks are hurting. He'd barely stopped smiling through the entire date.

The lights along the waterfront cast them in a warm glow, the fading sound of the streets a distant call. The only other people they see are other couples who pay them no mind, tightly wrapped around each other as they are despite the warm summer air blanketing them.

Izuku is smiling, a small secret smile, and Katsuki feels content.

“Thank you for my birthday present,” Izuku says softly, after a long moment.

Katsuki shrugs. “You’re the one who took me out. Shouldn’t I be thanking you?”

“You could!”

“Not a chance,” Katsuki says with a smirk.

“So mean, Kacchan!” Izuku whines, smacking Katsuki’s arm. His grin is back full force, spreading wide across his freckled face. “You liked it, didn’t you?”

Katsuki turns away to hide his smile. “It was alright,” he grumbles.

“Ha!” Izuku crows, fist pumping the air. Katsuki knocks their shoulders together hard, forcing Izuku to stumble and grab his arm. He smirks down at him when Izuku meets his eyes with a pout and hooks their arms together again, enjoying the way Izuku flushes. But, he leans into Katsuki anyways, a line of heat against Katsuki’s side.

“A-Anyways,” Izuku stutters, suddenly shy. Katsuki raises his brows. “I really hope you had fun.”

Leaning in close to breathe against Izuku’s ear, he says, “Well, I am letting you walk me home, aren’t I? I still need to thank you, after all.”

Izuku face goes bright red all the way down his neck, and he ducks his head between his shoulders, sputtering.

“You look like a fucking watermelon,” Katsuki cackles.

“Ugh,” Izuku groans. “You’re so mean! Why am I on a date with you again?”

Katsuki stops laughing, something cold and heavy settling in his chest. “Dunno, honestly. You’re the one who asked me.”

He ignores the sudden heavy silence that falls between them and the unwavering stare on the side of his face, eyes glued on the sidewalk in front of them.

Izuku hums after a moment. “Let’s see. There’s a lot of reasons. You’re brave, and strong, and passionate. You never settle for second best. If there's a problem, you never let it get in your way. You work really hard no matter what, and you’re really smart,” he says, listing them off on his fingers. He grins at Katsuki. “It certainly doesn’t hurt that you’re so handsome.”

“Shut it.”

“It’s true!” Izuku says with a laugh. The sound of it eases some of the tension in his shoulders, and Katsuki relaxes back against Izuku. They walk quietly like that, for a time, before Izuku says, “You’re my oldest friend, Kacchan. And you’re one of the most important people in my life. I told you I’d wait, and I can keep waiting. But... I’m really glad you agreed to go out with me tonight.”

“Whatever,” Katsuki mumbles. A part of him, one that’s grown smaller and smaller over the years, wants to shrug Izuku off, to push him away. But the urge is weak, and Katsuki finds himself pressing himself to Izuku’s side, reaching down and lacing their fingers together.

Izuku jolts. “K-Kacchan!”

“This is a fucking date, right?” Katsuki grumbles, tracing his thumb across the dense scar tissue of Izuku’s hand and pointedly looking at anything that isn’t Izuku. “We’re dating. So that makes me your stupid boyfriend, and your boyfriend gets to hold your stupid hand.”

Izuku nearly rips Katsuki’s arm off as he hides his face in his elbows, blushing and whining.

“Shut up,” Katsuki snaps. “How are you this embarrassed when you’re the one who asked me out?”

“I’m not embarrassed. You’re just so cute, Kacchan,” Izuku says with a grin.

“Shut up!”

Throwing his head back, Izuku laughs. It’s bright and loud, and the heaviness in Katsuki chest blossoms and falls away. He squeezes Izuku’s hand, and Izuku squeezes back. They walk slowly along the river like that, dragging out the time, wrapped tightly together and ignoring everything else except for each other.

When they finally reach Katsuki’s door, Izuku leans up to press a kiss against his cheek, quick as lightning. “Good night!” he squeaks, blushing and turning to run, but Katsuki still hasn’t released his hand, their fingers still firmly wrapped together. Something buzzes in the back of Katsuki’s head, a white noise, and the only thing he can focus on at the moment is Izuku’s blushing face and pink lips.

Pulling him back, Katsuki ignores the pounding of his heart and the rush of blood under his skin to press his fingers into Izuku’s curls and kiss him. Izuku’s lips are warm and a little chapped, the hair at the nape of his neck damp with sweat. Their noses bump for a second, and it’s almost awkward before Izuku tilts his head ever so slightly and they slot together perfectly.

It’s over too quickly and not quickly enough, too much and too little at the same time, filling Katsuki up to the brim. Izuku is too close when he pulls back, just a fraction, barely an inch, green eyes half lidded and a fond little smile on his lips.

“Good night, Kacchan,” he whispers against Katsuki’s mouth, and Katsuki presses in again for another long kiss, their hands still laced together, his fingers still in Izuku’s hair, and Izuku’s arm around his waist.

He kisses him again and again and again, trailing away from his lips and across his cheeks and along his jaw line until Izuku’s giggling and reluctantly trying to pull himself away.

Katsuki lets him take a few steps back, until their only contact is their fingers still twined together, the heat of Izuku’s body already fading along his skin.

“Good night,” he says, quietly. “Get back safe.”

Izuku smiles. “I will.”

Katsuki grudgingly lets Izuku go, the strength of his fingers like a brand in his empty hand.

“Next time, I’ll take you on a date,” Katsuki calls after him.

Walking backwards and grinning stupidly, Izuku nods. “Next time!” he says, pausing by the stairwell. “Don’t try too hard though, I’ll like any date you take me on!”

“Shut up! I’ll date the shit out of you!”

Izuku just laughs and disappears around the corner. Katsuki stays there, staring at the spot where Izuku once was, his face hurting from smiling so much, and finally lets himself into his apartment.

He nearly blows his door off its hinges when Mina and Ejirou fall through of his doorway. His neighbor, an elderly woman who has never been intimidated by Katsuki’s height or quirk, lectures him thoroughly for the shouting and explosions that follow their escape as calling congratulations over their shoulders.

When he finally falls into his bed, his phone lights up with a message.

Deku 23:19 – Just got home!

Me 23:19 – Go to sleep.

Deku 23:19 – I’m going, I’m going. So bossy! ヘ( ´Д`)ノ

Me 23:20 – Good.

Deku 23:21 – I had a lot of fun tonight, Kacchan! Can’t wait for next time!

Me 23:21 – Me too.

Me 23:25 –

Chapter Text

Thirty-two

It’s close to five in the morning when Katsuki lets himself into the apartment, their entry way lit by the soft glow of a lamp Izuku had insisted on putting there for Katsuki’s night shifts. He drops his keys on the stand, slipping his shoes off to set next to Izuku’s. Tatoru pokes her head around the corner, greeting him with a soft meow.

“I’m home,” he whispers, bending to scratch behind her ear. She purrs loudly, before prancing away with her tail high in the air, leading him down his usual route to the bedroom.

Katsuki stops in the doorway, looking in for a moment, where he usually crawls under the covers to wrap himself around Izuku.

This morning, he stops instead, just to look.

Izuku is curled up in the center of their bed, the sheets twisted around his legs and all the pillows on Katsuki’s side, his arms hugging his pillow tightly, his face buried in it. The space behind Izuku’s back is empty and inviting, but Katsuki stays in the doorway.

From here, he can see the bags under Izuku’s eyes, the exhausted slump of his shoulders. Katsuki works three night shifts a week, but it’s Izuku who regularly comes home late and stays up late, working hard on files and paperwork. It’s also Izuku who takes the time to stop and text Katsuki throughout the day, who falls asleep talking to him on the phone at midnight during Katsuki’s break, who brings Katsuki breakfast when he works overtime.

Tatoru pounces up on the mattress, curling up in her spot near Izuku’s stomach, her head still raised and looking at Katsuki as if to ask, “What are you waiting for?”

Normally, Katsuki would already be tangled up in Izuku’s legs, his arms worming around his waist and burying his nose into Izuku’s curly hair, to sleep away for the hour, cuddled up close, before Izuku had to get up and ready for his own work. Instead, Katsuki backs away and quietly shuts the door, leaving the two of them to sleep for a little longer.

Tatoru lowers her head and wiggles around before settling, unbothered by Katsuki’s absence.

Katsuki makes his way to the kitchen, bare feet silent on the heated floors. Opening the fridge, he pulls out all the ingredients for a full Japanese breakfast: eggs, cold tofu, fish, and vegetables. He starts the rice in the cooker, before he pulls out the pots and pans to start the fish grilling and mixing up miso soup.

He’s finishing up frying up the eggs when the bedroom door opens. Izuku pads over with the blanket still wrapped around his shoulders, dragging across the floor, and plants himself behind Katsuki to rub his face into the center of Katsuki’s back. Katsuki reaches around with one arm, angling himself so that Izuku is pressed into his side, his face in the crook of his neck.

“Welcome home,” Izuku mumbles sleepily into his skin. Katsuki can feel the smile against his throat. “You made me breakfast.”

“Yep,” Katsuki says, rubbing a hand against Izuku’s spine.

“Thank you.”

Katsuki turns to press a soft kiss on Izuku forehead. “You’ve been working yourself too hard,” he says in reply, placing the eggs on big bowls of rice.

Izuku hums against his throat, kissing his pulse gently. Katsuki leans away to catch his mouth, smiling against Izuku’s lips when he stumbles, still sleepy.

“I have bad breath,” Izuku grumbles.

“Don’t care.” Grabbing the bowls, Katsuki ushers Izuku towards the spread of food along the short table in front of their couch. Izuku flops heavily to the floor, wrapping his blanket a little further around him, and leaning heavily on Katsuki’s shoulder when he finally sits down.

He clumsily takes the chopsticks Katsuki hands him, and slowly starts eating his rice and eggs. Katsuki is content to sit like that, watching the morning news as Izuku groggily eats his way through his breakfast, one dish at a time, humming appreciatively at an occasional bite. By the time he’s drinking down the rest of his soup, Izuku is upright and awake.

Katsuki kisses Izuku’s cheek, before nudging him up. “Go get ready,” he says, smirking when Izuku groans and gets to his feet, picking up the blanket to throw back onto the bed. He waits until the shower turns on before he goes back to his own breakfast, polishing off the rest of the tofu and rice. Tatoru joins him briefly, curling up his lap and eyeing the fish bones.

“I’m not going to be responsible for that,” Katsuki tells her. “Find your own bones to choke on.”

Izuku emerges, warm and damp and toweling off his hair, as Katsuki sets down the rest of the bowls in the sink, and presses a kiss to Katsuki’s nose as he passes by, breath fresh.

“Thanks again for breakfast, Kacchan,” Izuku says as he buttons up his shirt, smiling at him.

Katsuki yawns and flops onto the bed, taking over Izuku’s spot in the middle. “No problem,” he says, lying spread eagle across the mattress, blankets half covering him. Sitting on the edge, Izuku leans over to press a few more kisses against Katsuki’s lips, soft and lingering. Katsuki chases them when he sits up and sags back against the pillows, grumbling, when Izuku doesn’t lean in for more.

Izuku chuckles. “When we have our own company, we’re always going to work the same shifts together, right?” he says as he struggles with his tie. Katsuki sits up and takes the ends from him, making quick work of the knot and smoothing it out against Izuku’s chest. “That way we won’t have be on separate schedules for half the week, and we can work together again.”

“That’s the goal,” Katsuki murmurs. He glances at the clock. “You better get going. And come back on time, or I’ll call All Might myself to complain.”

Laughing, Izuku leans down one last time, kissing Katsuki long and slow before he stands.

“Sweet dreams, Kacchan,” he says.

“Have a good day at work,” Katsuki replies with a small wave of his hand. Izuku chuckles, and blows him a kiss before he heads for the front door. Listening intently, Katsuki waits as Izuku slips on his shoes and pulls open the door.

“I’m off,” he calls, and his voice is soft and full of warmth. Katsuki lets himself bask in it before replying.

“Be safe,” Katsuki yells as the door shuts, cutting off Izuku’s soft laughter. He waits a moment longer, before pulling the sheets tightly around him and burying his face into Izuku’s pillow. It smells like their shampoo and soap, but mostly of Izuku,warm and sweet, like home. Katsuki feels himself melt into the mattress, relaxing after his long night, and drifting to sleep with the warmth of Izuku’s kisses fading from his lips.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Three

Izuku wakes just slightly. The bedroom is dark, the city sounds muffled and far away in the night. The world feels blurry and distant. Above him, Katsuki looms, propped up on one elbow and his hand on Izuku’s cheek, thumb rubbing a soothing circle on his skin.

“You were having a bad dream,” he says, voice still thick with sleep. He brushes the hair from Izuku’s forehead.

“It’s okay,” Izuku mumbles, eyes already drooping closed. “You were there, so I was okay.”

He barely hears Katsuki huff before he falls back asleep, snuggling closer when Katsuki lays back down and pulls the covers back over them.

The next time he wakes, it’s slowly. The blankets are twisted around his feet as usual and Katsuki is sprawled across him, head on Izuku’s bare chest and arms around his waist. He snores softly, his face smushed and nose pressed into Izuku’s skin. Izuku’s eyes flutter open, and he smiles. He lifts his arm to trace the shell of Katsuki’s ear, and Katsuki grumbles and turns his head away from Izuku’s fingertips, pulling one hand out from under them to swat at him. He grumbles louder when Izuku’s laughter shakes him.

Izuku grins, rolling them until they’re face to face and Katsuki glares blearily at him.

“Good morning, Kacchan,” he sings softly.

Katsuki grunts, but nuzzles a little closer until they’re barely and inch apart. He leans in just a little more, wrinkling his nose at Izuku’s morning breath, and kisses him before he lays back with his eyes closed.

“I dreamt about you last night,” Izuku whispers.

“Yeah?” Katsuki says, tangling their legs together and pulling at Izuku’s waist. “Good dreams, right?”

Humming, Izuku nods, scooting closer until they’re pressed flush together. “All my dreams about you are good.”

Katsuki smirks, his eyes still closed. “You dream about me that often?”

“Yep,” Izuku says, matter-of-fact, smiling when Katsuki flushes. “I dream about you every night.”

“Sap.”

“You like it.”

Katsuki opens his eyes and the look he gives Izuku is soft. It makes his heart flutter and his chest warm, a flood or a tidal wave filling him up in a rush. “Probably,” he murmurs, their noses brushing and their breath mingling. They wrap their arms around each other, sharing the same pillow, and cuddle like that, basking in the warmth, drifting in and out of sleep.

The alarm jerks them both awake, scrambling to silence it. Katsuki groans and curls back up under the covers, plastering himself to Izuku’s front.

“Don’t you need to get ready?” Izuku murmurs, flopping back on the pillow.

Katsuki groans again, rubbing his face into Izuku’s chest and squeezing his ribs. “Five more minutes.”

Laughing, Izuku ruffles Katsuki’s blonde hair, matted down from sleep, wrapping his legs around Katsuki’s waist to squeeze him back. Katsuki grunts. “You’ll be laaate,” he sings, rolling them over so he’s sitting on Katsuki stomach. Katsuki groans, arms falling away from Izuku, and pulling the pillow over his face.

“You’re a menace,” he says, muffled.

Izuku just grins. “Let me come see you tonight,” he says.

Sitting up, Katsuki dislodges the pillow and Izuku, sending him sprawling into Izuku’s lap. “Can’t get enough of me, can you?” he says with a leer and a grin, tickling Izuku’s sides. “You gotta be around me all the time, huh?”

Shrieking, Izuku squirms and retaliates by pinching Katsuki’s thighs. “Shut up, jerk,” he whines. Katsuki wrestles him back onto the mattress, flopping fully on top of him and knocking the breath out of Izuku. They lay there like that, exchanging slow kisses, Izuku running his hands down Katsuki’s back, scratching along his spine exactly like Katsuki likes. Katsuki hums lowly, almost like a purr, and Izuku laughs.

“Yeah,” Katsuki says into Izuku neck after a moment. “Come stay with me tonight.”

Izuku grins, hiding it in Katsuki’s hair. “Okay.”

Katsuki props himself up on his elbows to look down at Izuku. “Then you’ll have to get up early. See how you like it, huh?” His smile is soft and sweet, even as he’s teasing, so Izuku can do nothing but lean up to kiss it.

“Really though, you’ll be late,” he grudgingly murmurs.

Huffing, Katsuki rolls away and stands, stretching his arms over his head. Izuku watches appreciatively as he crawls back under the tangled covers, cuddling back up while Katsuki pulls out clothes from his designated drawer in Izuku’s closet. “Do you have a clean towel for me this time, nerd?” he asks, as he steps into the bathroom, already pulling off his tank top.

“Yeah,” Izuku calls after him around a yawn. “Under the sink.”

Katsuki waves a hand over his head in thanks and shuts the door, leaving Izuku to drift off as the shower turns on. He buries his nose into the pillow that smells like Katsuki’s shampoo mixed with Izuku’s and lays there, half awake, half asleep until Katsuki suddenly flops down on top of him. He groans as Katsuki wiggles around until he’s comfortable.

“You’re clothes are gonna get all wrinkled,” he warns, worming a hand out from under the blankets to tug on Katsuki’s tie.

“Well, aren’t you the nagging housewife today.”

“I’ll go make you breakfast, dear. Would you like milk with your cereal? I can make eggs.”

“And burn your tiny apartment to the ground, no thanks.”

Izuku lets out a dramatic sigh. “I’d make a terrible housewife,” he moans, throwing an arm over his eyes. “You, on the other hand.”

“You’re damn right, I’d be the best fucking housewife,” Katsuki says, and Izuku bursts out laughing, earning a pillow to the face.

Snatching the pillow away, Izuku grins. “That makes me the useless husband right? Honey, can you help me with my tie, you know how useless I am. You have that community meeting today? What time do I need to be at the school to pick up the children?” he says, throwing his voice deeper and only making himself laugh harder. Katsuki stares down at him, frozen, his face bright red and biting his lips. Izuku stops laughing. “Are you okay?”

Katsuki holds Izuku’s sides, and hides his face in Izuku’s neck. “Shitty Deku, stop being so fucking cute.”

Izuku’s laughs softly, pulling Katsuki closer and hugging him tight. “See you tonight?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki agrees, begrudgingly peeling himself away. Izuku rolls out of the bed and follows him to the door. Katsuki pulls on his shoes and kisses Izuku good-bye, grumbling about his morning breath. “I’ll cook dinner for you, okay?”

“Okay,” Izuku says and leans in for another kiss that Katsuki dodges. “Hey!”

“I’ll give you more tonight when your breath isn't so rank.” Katsuki smirks over his shoulder, and leaves with a wave. “So, don’t be late.”

“I won’t,” Izuku yells at the closing door. His sighs and rolls his eyes at Katsuki’s laughter drifting through the door. Smiling giddily, Izuku gets ready for his day, already excited for tonight.

Chapter Text

Sixteen

The winter sun weakly lights up Katsuki’s dorm room as he pulls on his coat and scarf. He glares at the stacks of homework on his desk, but grudgingly turns towards the door, leaving it for tonight.

Katsuki’s Sundays are usually reserved for early morning training and studying, only squeezing in a little free time in the afternoons. Ever since he was put in the remedial program, he hasn’t been taking more than a few hours off to relax. April, and his chance to rectify his mistakes at the provisional hero license exam, is only two months away and he can’t afford to slack off if he wants to be number one. He hasn’t taken any free time until today, when they’re well into February and his father has sweet talked him into coming home for the day.

This Sunday is cold, the crisp morning air promising more snow soon. Most of Class 1-A is still in bed and sleeping late on their day off, so the common rooms are empty and blessedly quiet as Katsuki passes through them and out onto the campus.

He doesn’t expect Izuku to be standing just outside the school entrance, yawning widely and rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

Katsuki pauses to study him for a moment. Izuku looks exhausted, with deep bags under his eyes, his fingers absentmindedly pulling at the straps of his book bag. He’s walking a little slowly, aimlessly, towards the station, and Katsuki tramps down on his sudden irritation as Izuku teeters a little to the side, near the street.

“Oi,” he snaps. “Fucking pay attention when you’re walking.”

Izuku stiffens as if he’s been doused with cold water, and turns around slowly with a pleasant smile plastered to his face. “K-Kacchan. Good morning! Are you on your way to visit family, too? It’s been a while since I went home to see my mom. She’s been really worried about me,” he babbles.

In a few long strides, Katsuki draws level with Izuku and clicks his tongue in annoyance. “If you’re going to stay up all damn night, don’t get up so early in the morning. You’re a nuisance, shitty Deku.”

The pleasant smile drops, and Izuku rolls his eyes with a sigh. “Sorry to bother you,” he says grumpily, turning away and marching quickly down the sidewalk.

Katsuki trails him, still annoyed and trying to contain it. Ever since their fight, their relationship has been off — Izuku is less afraid and more frustrated during their interactions. That, of all things, grinds Katsuki the wrong way. “Don’t fucking walk ahead of me!”

Izuku stops, huffing as Katsuki passes him, and glares when Katsuki pauses a few feet in front of him. They look at each other for a moment, and Izuku’s stare is wary but steady. Izuku used to tremble and duck away whenever Katsuki met his eyes, and for some reason, that irritates Katsuki even more to think about. Izuku, who, as he’d learned later than everyone else, was brave and selfless and a fucking hero.

“Well?” Katsuki snaps. “What are you waiting for, we’ll miss the damn train. Let’s go.”

He turns away, suddenly unable to look Izuku in the face.

“O-Oh, right!” Izuku stutters, shocked and caught off guard.

Jogging to catch up, Izuku shuffles along beside Katsuki, who ignores the wide-eyed look Izuku levels with the side of his face. That’s how they walk the rest of the way to the train station, in awkward silence and nearly three feet of distance between them. The station only has a few early morning commuters, those doing some shopping or visiting family. They get their tickets from separate machines, and Katsuki debates on walking on towards the platform without Izuku, the other taking a few seconds too long at the kiosk.

When he turns around and sees Katsuki waiting for him, Izuku's eyes light up with genuine joy and a huge grin spreads across his face. Katsuki feels himself flush and his stomach suddenly gives a mighty lurch. He scowls. “What are you grinning at?! Hurry the fuck up, nerd!” he shouts and stomps away, ignoring the shocked gasps and mutters.

Izuku laughs nervously when he’s back at Katsuki’s side, but Katsuki ignores him.

The train pulls in at a rush, kicking up a cold breeze as it rumbles to a stop. Katsuki immediately flops down in an available seat, continuing to ignore Izuku hesitantly standing nearby, holding onto the vertical railing next to Katsuki’s seat. Their car gradually fills and a middle aged mother sits down beside Katsuki with her son asleep in her lap.

The train starts off with a gentle lurch. Katsuki pretends not to notice Izuku already leaning heavily on the post, drooping eyes staring tiredly out the windows. As three more stops pass them by, Izuku slumps over more, eyes closed. As the door opens again to let out the mother and her sleeping child, Katsuki grabs Izuku’s sleeve before he can think too hard about it.

“Take my seat,” he hisses, moving over so Izuku can take his vacant seat. “Stop trying to fall asleep on your fucking feet.”

Izuku squeaks as he tumbles onto the bench, and the man on Katsuki’s other side gives the two a disapproving stare. Katsuki ignores that too, along with the furtive glances Izuku keeps giving him. It’s not long before Izuku slumps into the seat and closes his eyes.

U.A. is a little over an hour away from their neighborhood by train. Katsuki doesn’t miss the early mornings on packed trains, but now that they’ve been living in the dorms for nearly six months, he feels pretty satisfied to be off of school grounds for the first time in a while.

Katsuki freezes as a curly head falls heavily onto his shoulder, hair tickling his ear. Izuku is warm against the skin of his jaw. He immediately starts to sweat, hands pulling at the scarf around his neck and his face red. One stop away from their neighborhood, the man on his right stands to exit, shooting him an amused smile and a polite nod as he leaves. Two middle school girls giggle behind their hands across the aisle, shooting him secretive smiles. Katsuki tries to suppress the growing flush across his face.

When their stop arrives, Katsuki bolts out of the car, letting Izuku sprawl across the seats with a squawk. He takes a moment to catch his breath, and to try to calm the squirming that had erupted in his stomach when Izuku had smiled so happily at him, that had only gotten worse while Izuku has slept on his shoulder.

Izuku rushes out after him, blushing, and Katsuki glares at him. “What the fuck are you so embarrassed about?”

Shakily, Izuku stares at the ground and says, “T-Two girls said my boyfriend left me behind.”

Katsuki snarls and stalks away. This time, Izuku immediately falls into step beside him, though they don’t look at each other as they exit the train station onto the street. The neighborhood is a little more active at this time of day, adults that knew them from the time they were children calling out greetings as they walk home.

When they get to their parting point, Katsuki sets off for home without a word. He hasn’t felt this embarrassed and out of step in a long time. But, it’s not that unpleasant, he thinks.

“See you at the dorms, Kacchan,” Izuku calls out, hesitantly.

Katsuki waves a flippant hand over his shoulder without a word, and turns the corner. After all, they may just meet up again on the way back.

Chapter Text

July 15: Beach Party / Birthday / Envy

Twenty-One

Katsuki curses as he limps up the apartment building stairs, too impatient to wait for the elevator, even though his knee screams at him. He’s late. Four hours late. Katsuki has never been late to anything important in his life.

He’d be lucky if Izuku was even still there.

His knee goes to give out on the fifth floor, but he pushes on, grumbling quietly under his breath and cursing Shouto for living on the fifteenth floor and being just so damn nice to host tonight. Uraraka and I will set everything up, so all you have to worry about this year is your present, that half-and-half bastard had said. Make sure you ask him out properly.

Just the thought of his smug face is enough to make Katsuku want to blow Shouto’s door down when he finally reaches it. Sense, and the possibility of Izuku still being in the vicinity, stays his hand.

“You’re late!” Ochako snaps when she opens the door, and gapes at his rather ragged appearance. “You’re covered in blood!”

“It’s not mine,” he snaps back, leaning heavily on the door frame. “Is fucking Deku still here or do I have to track him down at his apartment? Across the goddamn city. Fuck.” He rubs a hand over his face, exhausted.

“Oh, um—”

“Kacchan!” Izuku appears as if summoned over Ochako’s shoulder. He gasps, and Katsuki’s suddenly hyperaware of his torn and stained clothes. “Are you okay?”

“Happy birthday,” Katsuki blurts. “It’s not my blood.”

Ochako snorts as Izuku fusses over him. “Smooth,” she says exasperated, and both she and Izuku take Katsuki by the arms to help him inside. “We saw the attack on the news, shouldn’t you be in a debrief right now?”

“That welding asshole is covering for me.”

“You could have just called, Kacchan,” Izuku scolds him. “You’re hurt! You should be getting medical attention. Did you run here? Your knee needs to rest! It must be twisted.”

“Stop fucking nagging me, shitty Deku!” he yells, trying not to sink too enthusiastically into the chair he’s led to. Shouto’s lavish apartment is in more disarray than Katsuki’s ever seen it, a few of his former classmates still gathered around the television, watching the news. Best Jeanist is talking politely with an interviewer in front of the destroyed shopping district.  

“You should take better care of yourself!” Izuku’s still saying, taking the first aid kit that Shouto hands him and cleaning up the large scrap along Katsuki’s knee and shin. “Don’t be so reckless.”

Katsuki scoffs. “Says the most reckless human being on the planet,” he grumbles, pinching Izuku’s cheek.

Izuku pouts up at him, before it melts into a proud smile. “You did amazing though, Kacchan! I can’t believe the situation fell apart so badly. You’re so awesome to have kept the villains’ attention while Best Jeanist got all those people out.”

“It wasn’t supposed to take so damn long,” Katsuki grumbles.

Shouto wanders back over with a glass of water, that Katsuki downs in a few gulps. “We ate all the cake without you,” he says, blandly.

“Don’t listen to him! I saved a piece for you!” Izuku says. His face softens and his smile warms. “I can’t believe you remembered how much I liked that birthday cake. We were seven! You only came because your mom made you.”

Katsuki glares at Shouto and Ochako. “You weren’t supposed to tell him,” he growls, flushing redder when Izuku chuckles.

“Oh, and what was I supposed to say?” Ochako says, crossing her arms. “Yeah, Deku, we know that this is a pretty obscure type of cake that you remember from your childhood, and that it is obviously home-made with the same exact recipe as Bakugou-san, but we just happened to have found this one in a bakery exactly like it and bought it for your birthday.”

“Okay, okay! Just shut up.”

Laughing, Izuku finishes up with the bandages around Katsuki’s shin and pulls the ragged pant leg over them. “Don’t worry, Kacchan, they didn’t tell me. It really wasn’t that hard to figure out.”

Katsuki huffs and crosses his arms. “Whatever.”

“It’s not like it’s hard to recognize your cooking anyways,” Shouto says. “You always burn the edges a little bit.”

Affronted, Katsuki doesn’t hold back a few tiny explosions that spark along his palms. “The fuck?!” he shouts. “You want to go, bastard? Say that again, I’ll blow your shitty head off.”

Shouto smirks as Ochako ushers him back to the living room. “I’d like to see you try.”

Throwing up a rude gesture to their backs, Katsuki leans back into his seat and looks at everything but Izuku. “Anyways, happy birthday, I didn’t get you a present.”

“That’s okay, I’m just really glad I got see you on my birthday!” Izuku says happily.

“Not it’s not,” Katsuki grumbles. “I couldn’t think of anything to get you. I looked for six weeks, and literally couldn’t find anything.”

“That long, huh?” Izuku says with a considering smile. It makes Katsuki want to hide, because Izuku’s being so fucking nice, even though Katsuki showed up late for his birthday without even a present to make up for it. “You know that most of the people who came tonight didn’t get me a gift either, right?” Izuku says kindly.

Katsuki blushes. “It’s different.”

Izuku rests his chin in his hand, his gaze heavy on Katsuki’s face. “Oh really? Well, you did make me a cake. It was really great by the way, no burnt edges at all.”

“I know it was,” Katsuki growls. “I still wanted to get you an actual present.

“How about this,” Izuku says, grinning and leaning forward into Katsuki’s space. “Go on a date with me?”

“What?!”

“So direct, Deku-kun!”

“Fuck off, Round Face!”

Izuku laughs, loud and carefree. “A proper date, Kacchan,” he says, waving a finger in Katsuki’s face. “No pretending like we’re hanging out or that a group of us are going out and they all conveniently decide to abandon us.”

“To be fair, Bakugou didn’t make that last one up. We all hate watching him make heart eyes at you,” Ochako says.

“Will you please fuck off?!”

“Ochakooo.”

“Alright, alright, I’m actually leaving. Happy birthday, Deku-kun! And congrats to you both!” she says as she heads out the door. Izuku waves back enthusiastically, and Katsuki gives her the finger behind Izuku's back. She gives him one back when he turns around.

Izuku stares and Katsuki stares back. “So?”

“So what?” Katsuki grumbles.

“A date, Kacchan,” Izuku whines. “Go on a date with me! It’s my one birthday wish.”

Katsuki flushes and swallows. It’s been years. He’s been dancing around this for years. Asking Izuku to hang out, late nights playing video games, meeting him at restaurants at odd times. Bringing him soup when he’s sick. Holding his hand during scary movies. Kissing him on New Years.

Every time, Katsuki pulls away. And every time, Izuku says he understands.

“Sure,” he croaks, swallowing down the rising emotion in this throat. “Where do you want to go?”

Izuku’s smile grows impossibly wide, his eyes crinkling in the corners with a pretty flush spreading across his cheeks. “Really?” he asks quietly, happily.

“Really,” Katsuki says, feeling his lips curl up to mirror Izuku’s smile.

Leaning forward, Izuku kisses Katsuki on the mouth, a warm dry kiss, and Katsuki turns away on instinct when he backs away. Izuku’s smile doesn’t even falter.

Katsuki clears his throat. “So, yeah, where did you want to go?”

“No, I’m going take you out on date!” Izuku says with a laugh.

“But, it’s your birthday, shouldn’t I be taking you out?!”

“That’s no fun!” Izuku says with a laugh. Katsuki opens his mouth to argue when Shouto ushers Tenya and Momo by, towards the door.

“Thanks for helping clean up. Please get home safe,” he says to them as they wave good-bye at Katsuki and Izuku as they pass. “You two, feel free to leave as well.”

Katsuki sneers at him as Izuku helps him up, pulling an arm over his shoulder. “Rude,” he snaps. Shouto levels him with a flat look, before turning to smile at Izuku.

“Happy birthday again,” he says, and gestures at Katsuki. “Good luck with that.”

“Thanks again, Todoroki-kun, it was a great party,” Izuku says over Katsuki’s snarling. “See you later!”

They wave off Momo and Tenya, heading to opposite train stations. Izuku is warm and solid under Katsuki’s arm, and he leans into it, slumping heavily onto him and making them stumble. Izuku’s laugh is bright and intoxicating, and he presses closer to Katsuki with a smile.

“Are you free next week?” he asks, his freckles glowing under his blush.

Katsuki nods as Izuku pulls away outside the train station. “Next Friday.”

“Next Friday, then,” he says with a happy grin. “I’ll meet you after my shift with Sir Nighteye.”

“Okay,” Katsuki says, his stomach fluttering. He leans over and kisses Izuku on the cheek before he can chicken out, grinning when Izuku goes red and ducks his head. He backs away towards his train, a stupid grin on his face. “Next Friday,” he says.

Izuku smiles, almost shy but glowing. “Next Friday.”

Chapter Text

Twenty-Six

Izuku isn’t nervous. Not at all. He just likes bouncing his foot rapidly on the linoleum with a very audible squeak of his sneakers. The receptionist looks up for the eighth time, and this time it's not with a sympathetic, bordering on exasperation, expression. Instead, it’s actually more reminiscent of Katsuki’s death glare. Izuku’s impressed.

He gives her a sheepish little smile, putting some effort into calming himself. He’s not the one having surgery after all. Taking a deep breath and willfully not looking at the clock, he opens up one of the frayed magazines.

“Midoriya Izuku?”

Izuku jumps out of his chair, magazine fluttering to the ground. “Yes!”

Receptionist glares at him again, while the attending nurse stifles a giggle. “We’re all done! He’s even already woken up, so you can come see him for a moment before we wheel him out if you’d like,” she says pleasantly. “He’s quite… vocal.”

“I’m so very sorry,” he says immediately, bowing deeply.

“Oh!” she gasps, waving her hand. “No, no, it’s nothing bad. Please come have a look yourself. Most family members actually like to record them, it can be quite funny!”

Following her, Izuku thinks he’d rather not have a video of Katsuki swearing at a doctor and his staff, but just shrugs hesitantly in response. When she leads him through the door, he understands immediately what she’s talking about.

“Deku!” Katuski wails. Izuku’s already whipped out his phone. “Deku, they took my teeth!”

“I’m sorry for you loss,” he says, probably a little more sincerely than he should.

Katsuki’s head thumps back on the reclined dentist chair. “My mouth is full of gauze,” he states, matter of fact. “Deku, you’re super cute. Didn’t I say he was really cute?” The attending nods, hiding a smile behind her hand.

The surgeon, smiling, hands Izuku a small stack of papers. “Everything went fine. Here is all of his prescriptions. Give us a call if anything seems odd or if his numbness doesn't go away,” he says. “Other than that, he’s ready to go.”

Izuku leafs through the instructions quickly, but gives the doctor a small smile in return. “I’ll go get the car then. Kacchan, I’ll be right back to get you.”

“Cute…” is Katsuki’s slurred response, leaning his head back with his eyes closed.

Laughing Izuku leaves for the borrowed car. Shouto had offered it to him when Izuku had complained at their last get-together, worried that a train ride would be too much for Katsuki and that he’d yell at a taxi driver. “You can borrow mine, if I get a video of him being stupid,” Shouto had said, with a fierce glint in his eye. Izuku had agreed, despite knowing that Katsuki would probably yell traitor at him for it.

If he's honest, he doesn’t feel too guilty texting Shouto as he waits outside the oral surgeon's office for Katsuki to be wheeled out. When a few more minutes pass, Izuku steps back inside, meeting the nurse halfway.

“Looks like he doesn’t want the wheelchair,” she says, leading him back again.

“Sorry about this.” She waves the apology away.

Katsuki is sitting up a little more and glaring at the wheelchair, ice packs already strapped to his cheeks. Izuku snaps another picture. When Katsuki notices him, he holds up his arms. “Carry me,” he demands.

Izuku huffs out another laugh. “Alright,” he says, scooping him up easily, to the nurses surprise. Katsuki hooks his chin over Izuku’s shoulder, leaning his head enough to the side that the ice pack presses against Izuku’s neck. Izuku stifles a shriek. “You’re a mess,” he says.

“You’re a cute,” Katsuki slurs back. “Wanna take a nap.”

Laughing, Izuku shifts him a little in his arms and heads for the car. The nurse helpfully opens the door for him, and Katsuki slumps in the seat, leaning it all the way back with a thump.

“Do you want a milkshake?” Izuku asks as they pull away. “You can’t have a straw though.”

Katsuki wriggles around in his seat, trying to get comfortable. “Don’t want it. Todo’s car sucks. Wanna go home.”

“Alright, well that’s where we’re going.”

“Do you think Tatoru loves me?”

Izuku splutters. “Yes, I’m sure she does,” he says as seriously as he can.

“She better. I’m the one who cleans the box,” Katsuki says, glaring at the ceiling. “I love her a lot. Todo’s car really sucks, Deku. I’m gonna buy a cooler car. And it’s gonna be comfy.” He turns his head to leer at Izuku, as much as he can around a puffed up face and ice packs strapped to his head. “With a big back seat.”

Izuku almost wrecks the car laughing, but Katsuki is too out of it to notice. He manages to get them home safely enough, and picks Katsuki up again when he holds his arms up with a pitiful pout. Setting him down on the bed, he shoots off a text to Shouto that he can come for his car.

Shouto 12:48 – I’ll be by for it after work. The video wasn’t nearly as entertaining as it should have been.

“Hey, Kacchan,” he says, pointing the phone at Katsuki sprawled across the bed. “How do you feel about Todoroki-kun?”

Katsuki's ruffled blonde head pops up, glaring. “His car sucks, Deku. It’s just,” he trails off waving his hands, and pauses. “I’m gonna be the best man at his wedding.”

“What?!” Izuku says, affronted. “No way, I am!”

“You’re too cute to be anyone’s best man,” Katsuki says and points an accusing finger at him. “Best man’s supposed to be mean and scare off people. And yeah…” He flops back on the bed, curling up. “Fuck.”

Izuku snorts. “That’s the first time you’ve cursed since you came out.” Katsuki flaps a hand at him.

Shouto 12:52 – Iida’s going to be my best man.

Me 12:52 – BLOCKED.

“Do you want something to eat?” Izuku says as he puts away his phone. “You bought some ice cream, but there’s also tofu or noodles you can eat. Nothing spicy though.”

“Nooo,” Katsuki whines. “Gonna take a nap. Come nap with me, Deku,” he says, holding out arms in invitation. Izuku gives in and crawls into the bed, draping himself over Katsuki.

Izuku snorts as Katsuki wraps around him like an octopus. “Are you even comfy?”

“Yes.”

“Okay then,” he laughs into Katsuki’s neck, snuggling in. Katsuki holds him tighter.

“Izuku…” Katsuki murmurs.

Intrigued, Izuku raises his head, meeting half-lidded red eyes and a dopey smile. “Katsuki.”

“Izukuuu.”

Biting back another laugh, Izuku raises his brows and cards his fingers through Katsuki's flyaway hair. “Katsuki. I thought you were going to take a nap?”

Katsuki’s eyes widen. “Oh yeah!”

Izuku stifles his laughter into Katsuki’s chest. “Go to sleep, Kacchan,” he says, scratching along Katsuki's scalp through his hair. Katsuki hums in response, laying back against the pillow and pulling Izuku a little closer. Tatoru makes her appearance, gingerly climbing up until she can curl up in the small of Izuku’s back.

Half asleep and clinging to Izuku, Katsuki says, “Deku sandwich,” and passes out.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Three

Izuku tightens his scarf around his neck, pulling his knit cap lower over his ears. The snow is falling gently, bright little specks illuminated under the streetlights and dusting his shoulders and his head. It crunches under his boots as he shuffles his foot along the pavement where he’s waiting on the corner. A cool breeze kicks up a few flakes, raking along his exposed skin, and Izuku grudgingly regrets insisting on meeting Katsuki here. He could have been in a warm karaoke box instead, with the rest of their friends.

Across the street from him, a crepe stand is bustling as shoppers line-up along the sidewalk. Izuku pouts as he eyes them walking away with their warm treats.

“Oi, Deku.” Izuku looks up as Katsuki approaches, and he has to suppress his laughter. Katsuki is wrapped up in a large parka and a thick scarf that covers most of his face, a wool hat pulled low over his head and his blonde hair barely peeking out around the edges. His hands are shoved deeply into his pockets, and he glowers at Izuku from underneath it all.

“Kacchan!” Izuku calls back happily, hugging Katsuki around his middle. Katsuki folds over, and buries his cold nose into Izuku’s neck. “I see you haven’t frozen to death yet.”

Katsuki whines. “It’s fucking cold. I hate it, and I hate snow, and I hate you for making me come out in it.”

Laughing and rubbing his hands down Katsuki’s back, Izuku presses a kiss in between Katsuki’s eyes, the only part of him not covered. “You liked it in December!” he says and tugs on Katsuki’s arm to lead him away.

“That was two fucking months ago,” Katsuki hisses, condensation puffing through his scarf.

“But it’s Tsuyu’s birthday! You even made her all those jelly strudels,” Izuku says, eyeing the bag on Katsuki’s shoulder.

Katsuki clutches it to his side. “Back off, Deku. I will blow off any appendage that comes near these until we get there,” he growls. “They’ll freeze if you open them up right now, anyways.”

“It’s not that cold, you big baby,” Izuku huffs. They walk, arm in arm and pressed close, down the street. As they pass a fourth crepe stand, Izuku pulls him to the side, smiling despite Katsuki’s complaints. When they set off a good ten minutes later, he graciously offers Katsuki a bite of the rolled pastry.

Katsuki grumbles, “We’re gonna be late now,” as he grudgingly pulls down his scarf and takes a bite of the crepe still in Izuku’s hand. “If my strudels are frozen solid, I’ll blame you.”

“It’s not that cold!” Izuku cries and bites down on the crepe, licking away the cream that lingers on his lips. He smirks when he notices Katsuki’s eyes following the movement, licking at the bit of syrup leaking from the rolled up pastry.

“You’re the worst,” Katsuki hisses, pouting when Izuku laughs.

“Aw,” Izuku coos, offering the crepe back to Katsuki. “Don’t worry, you can have half.”

Swooping down, Katsuki takes a huge bite and destroys the rest of the crepe as he pulls  away, smirking around the whipped cream and syrup on his face when Izuku squawks. “Kachaaan,” he whines, shaking the ruined bits off his hand. “You jerk, I love those”

Katsuki leans in and kisses him, deeply. He tastes like mango and sugar, warm against Izuku cold lips. “I’ll make them for you, since I can do it better,” he says as he breaks away.

Izuku pouts. “For that, you have to sing a song with me.”

“Fuck no.”

“Pleeease!”

“No!” Katsuki says, shoving Izuku into the karaoke parlour. “I’m only here because you’re annoying and round-face threatened me. And for the drinks.”

Huffing, Izuku shrugs out of his coat. “Fine,” he says, and raises a brow. “I didn’t know you were so embarrassed about your singing voice. I guess you don’t want everyone to know how bad you are.”

A familiar, challenging glint shines in Katsuki’s eyes despite his scowl. “You’re gonna fucking regret that,” he promises.

“Bring it,” Izuku says as he opens up the correct karaoke box down the hall. Everyone cheers as they join the group, all of them piled around a happily smiling Tsuyu, who’s flanked by Ochako and the snake-faced Habuko. “Happy birthday, Tsuyu-chan! Sorry we’re late!” Izuku calls as he and Katsuki squeeze in beside Kirishima, ducking under Kirishima and Katsuki’s rather violent greeting.

Tsuyu waves him off with a wide smile, taking the food container that Katsuki passes her with a surprised twist of her mouth. “Just open it,” Katsuki says, gruffly.

She opens it cautiously, and grins. “Katsuki-kun’s baking on my birthday. I must be extra lucky today,” she says. “Or Izuku-kun was extra sweet to earn such a huge favor.”

Katsuki’s face burns bright red, his yelling drowned out by everyone’s laughter. Chuckling nervously, Izuku shakes his head. “It was all him! Tease him properly for being so thoughtful!” he says, flinching when Katsuki pinches his side, and the group roars with laughter again.

“Tardy people have to sing the next song!” Mina says, holding out two microphones.

“No love songs, please. You two are bad enough,” Fumikage says quietly from where he’s crammed between Kaminari and Iida, and everyone adamantly agrees.

Izuku pulls Katsuki back to his feet, turning to the screen to choose their song while Katsuki yells at the lot of them for being ungrateful hecklers. He scrolls for a long moment before his face lights up, and he nudges Katsuki.

Glancing at the screen, Katsuki’s grin is almost a sneer. “Fuck yes,” he says, selecting the song with a sharp jab.

Everyone groans as the song to the old All Might cartoon comes up on the big screen. Katsuki and Izuku barely look at the words as they belt out the theme, singing it perfectly from memory, and half the room joins them by the time it's half over. Ochako gleefully records the entire thing, and crows when the song ends, “I’m sending that to All Might right now!”

“Fuck no, you’re not!” Katsuki snarls, making to jump across the table at her, held back by Mina and Kirishima. “You don’t even have his number!”

“No, but Deku-kun does!” she says with a smirk.

Katsuki whirls on his boyfriend with a desperate glare. “Deku, don’t you dare!”

Izuku puts his phone down sheepishly. “He’d be really touched!” Izuku says, with a small smile. Katsuki groans, flopping down in his seat next to Izuku and downing his newly arrived drink in one go, ignoring Kaminari and Kyouka as they giddily take the microphones away.

Nudging him gently, Izuku puts an arm around his shoulders and leans in place a discreet kiss on Katuski’s cheek while everyone else is distracted and cheering on the rap battle going on in the front of the room. “Having fun?”

Katsuki shrugs, burying himself against Izuku’s side. “It’s alright,” he grumbles, not meeting Izuku’s eye.

Izuku chuckles, his breath warm where it puffs against Katsuki’s ear, goosebumps prickling his skin. “Want to sing with me again?” he asks softly. "We'll do a love song and make everyone gag."

Turning his head to hide his grin, Katsuki shrugs off Izuku’s arm. “You’re on.”

Chapter Text

Twenty-Two

“Kacchan,” Izuku rasps. “You really don’t have to.”

Katsuki raises his brow, frowning. Izuku is covered in a mound of blankets, used tissues and cough drop wrappers littering the floor by his bed. He’s staring back at Katsuki with hazy eyes, his hair matted with sweat and face flushed, and not in the pretty way.

“Yeah, I’m sure a dumbass like you is going to survive the snowstorm,” Katsuki says with a huff. Izuku looks at him like he’s not sure what to do with Katsuki, a little confused and a little insecure. It’s a look that Katsuki hasn’t seen much since they started dating, so he leans down to brush Izuku’s sweaty curls from his forehead. “You’re sick, stupid, so let me take care of you,” he says softly.

A small, wobbly smile breaks across Izuku’s face, and Katsuki can’t help but return it.

“Plus, your apartment is smaller and easier to warm,” he snidely adds.

Izuku laughs, weak and nasally. “Thank you,” he murmurs, closing his eyes when Katsuki pecks a quick kiss to his cheek. He watches as Katsuki sets down his bag and begins to rummage through Izuku’s fridge. “I haven’t really been able to go shopping…”

“I know. That’s why I’m going to go grab a few things for you,” Katsuki says, and plops down on Izuku’s bed to shove Izuku back onto the bed when he makes to sit up. “No arguments, Deku.”

“But!”

“Boyfriend privileges!” he snaps as he sorts through the mess of medicine bottles and tissue boxes on Izuku’s night stand. “And yes, I’m going to pay for it. Buy me fucking dinner if you feel so obligated. Any requests?”

Pouting, Izuku glares at him, large bags under his eyes. “Ice-cream,” he says after a long moment.

“Only you would want ice-cream during the freak snowstorm of the century,” Katsuki says, chuckling.

“My throat hurts,” Izuku grumbles.

“Fine,” Katsuki sighs. “I’m only going to go right across the street. That convenience store is probably the only thing left open, so you’re going to have to deal with junk food.” Katsuki shrugs on his sweater and pulls on his scarf and beanie.

Izuku’s head pops up over the stack of blankets. “Oh, take my jacket, it’s cold outside.”

“No shit, genius,” Katsuki says, eyeing Izuku’s long, thick trench coat that would easily reach Katsuki’s ankles. It’s a very light beige and well taken care of despite its age. It hangs from a hook on the back of Izuku’s door, lovingly strung over a hanger.  “Why do you even have that monstrosity?”

“All Might gave it to me,” Izuku sighs, rolling over and burying himself further in his cocoon. “Said I needed a one since I was only wearing sweaters.”

Katsuki curses as he pulls on his parka over the trench coat. “That’s why you got fucking sick, shitty Deku! Don’t fucking move an inch or I’ll make you fucking regret it,” he snaps. Izuku gives him a noncommittal hum, already drifting off again. Katsuki rolls his eyes and steps out.

The city is already under a thick, white blanket of snow. The wind begins to pick up, flurries kicking up in its wake, and the sky darkens with the oncoming storm.

His breath comes out in a white puff as he locks the door behind him, running a finger over the key’s ridges as he shoves them deep into his pockets. It’s bitterly cold, and he trudges through the mounding snowdrifts to one of the few lit stores along the road. The clerk welcomes him as he quickly fills a basket with food and cough drops, and then sees him out the door with a short bow.

Izuku is mumbling softly under a pillow when Katsuki returns, shuddering as he pulls off all the jackets and sweaters. “Fuck the cold,” he hisses quietly.

A curly head emerges again from the mess on Izuku’s bed, holding a phone to his ear. “Kacchan’s home,” he says quietly into the phone. “Hm? Yes, he’s staying here through the storm. Okay,” he answers, and holds the phone out to Katsuki. “It’s my mom.”

Hesitantly, he takes it. “...Auntie.”

“Katsuki-kun, you weren’t out in the snow for too long were you?” Inko frets, her voice quiet and urgent in his ear.

“Just for a little bit. De-Izuku needed some more medicine so,” Katsuki trails off, awkwardly shifting the phone to his shoulder as he unloads the shopping. “And we needed some food…”

“Oh dear, do you need me to pay you back?”

Katsuki huffs as he sits on the edge of Izuku’s bed and shoving a new bag of cough drops at his face. “Uh, no, it’s fine.”

“Are you sure?” Inko says, worriedly. “Make sure Izuku treats you in return, okay? It’s very kind of you to stay with him, but please don’t get sick. I’d say head home, but I think it’s too dangerous now. All the trains have officially shut down for the storm.”

“It’s fine, Auntie,” Katsuki says, feeling more and more awkward by the second as she rambles at him. “I’ve got it taken care of, so don’t worry too much.”

Inko huffs out a soft laugh. “Well, okay then. I know the two of you are adults, but I still worry. I’m a mother afterall!” she says, and Katsuki can hear the smile on her face. “Please call me if you need something, but I’ll leave it to you.”

“I’ll do my best then,” Katsuki murmurs, covering his face as it heats up, embarrassed.

“I know you will. And you better be over here next time I cook! I know you’re busy, but make some time for you boyfriend’s mother, okay?”

Katsuki chuckles nervously. “Okay. The stew was really good, thank you for sending it along last time.” He can’t help but smiling just a bit as she rambles at him a bit longer. They hang up the phone with friendly good-byes. Izuku pokes him in the side, a big dopey grin on his face, and Katsuki groans. “What did I say about making that stupid fucking face?”

“It’s cute and distracting, so stop,” Izuku rasps, still smiling.

“Exactly, so fucking stop,” Katsuki hisses, peeling off the top blanket to slide under. “And I didn’t fucking say it was cute, you asshole.”

Izuku scooches over to give Katsuki a little more room on his tiny bed, curling into Katsuki’s side when he settles down and throwing an arm over his waist. “Yes, you did! You said, ‘Deku, stop fucking looking at me with that cute smile, it’s fucking distracting and it pisses me off.’ Exactly like that,” he says, throwing his voice a little deeper that, with the rasp, could maybe have been a good impression of Katsuki’s voice.

“Shut up,” Katsuki snaps. “And go to sleep, you little asshole.”

Laughing, Izuku cuddles closer and almost immediately drifting off. Katsuki rolls his eyes and leans back against the wall, scrolling through his phone as the snow steadily falls outside the window.

Chapter Text

Thirty-five

Katsuki jumps up when he hears the key turn in the lock, hobbling towards the door, the cast on his leg thumping heavily on the wood floor. Izuku is closing it gently behind him with a tired smile when Katsuki rounds the corner. “I’m home,” he says, wearily, a little singed and a little beaten up, with his hair a mess on his head.

He wants to yell and curse at him, the urge to light sparks in his palms itching along his skin. But Katsuki’s long since learned to swallow that down and let it out in a different way. Instead he wraps his arms around Izuku, pressing his curly head against his chest like he wants to hide him from the world. Izuku hugs him back just as tightly, strong hands on his shoulders, rubbing gentle soothing circles into Katsuki’s back and along his spine.

“Sorry I’m late,” he murmurs into Katsuki’s threadbare t-shirt, resting his forehead against Katsuki’s collarbone. “Sorry I made you worry.”

Katsuki swallows back everything he wants to scream about, and nods against the top of Izuku’s head. “Welcome back,” he whispers. “You did good out there.”

“Hmmm, did you watch the whole thing?” Izuku asks, nuzzling even closer.

“Of course,” Katsuki says, taking a step back to look at him. There’s a small streak of blood on Izuku’s forehead, shiny against the dirt on his face and skin, contrasted by his rumpled civilian clothes for the taxi ride home. Katsuki ignores it. “Did you eat anything?”

Izuku yawns widely. “A protein bar. Too tired for anything else.”

“Ugh, fine,” Katsuki says with a wrinkled nose. “You’re eating everything I shove in your stupid face tomorrow, though. Go take a bath before you pass out this time.” He shoves Izuku towards the bathroom despite Izuku’s tired whining. “That or sleep on the floor. You’re not getting in the bed smelling like a sewer.”

“Kacchaan, I do not!” Izuku whines as he peels off his shirt, pouting at Katsuki’s retreating back. “And you should be using your crutches!”

Katsuki waves him off, grumbling and balancing his weight against the wall as he heads back to the kitchen to put away their long cold dinner. Tatoru darts around him to scratch at the closed bathroom door until Izuku opens it for her.

“An update on our breaking coverage: Number One Hero Deku successfully and quickly contained what could have been a widespread disaster near Tokyo Bay this evening, with the help of Froppy and several other heroes. With only 26 reported injuries and no deaths so far, Deku is sure to rise to the same heights as his predecessor, All Might,” the nightly newscaster reports over the television. Katsuki watches, absentmindedly cleaning the dishes, as she commentates through a few clips of the battle, before running Izuku’s interview again.

The Izuku on the screen is even less put together than the one that had shown up five hours late at their door, his costume tattered and streaked with mud. But he’s smiling politely and stuttering through the interviewer’s questions, a little tired but triumphant. Katsuki snorts and puts the last plate on the rack to dry, flicking off the television and the lights as he limps towards the bedroom.

Sprawled across the bed with the cat on his chest, Izuku is already a sleep, his wet hair soaking into the pillow. Katsuki rolls his eyes and picks up his blinking phone.

Uraraka 02:12 – Did Deku-kun get in alright? My intern said he stopped by to be healed, but he was still worried a bit about Deku’s head wound.

Me 02:15 – Fucker’s already passed out. Seems fine, but I know the drill. Thank your intern for patching him up for me, and don’t push yourself on clean up.

Uraraka 02:16 – (`Д´)ゞ Yessir! Heal up soon so you’re out there with him next time!

Me 02:16 – Yeah, will do.

Katsuki flops into open space between Izuku’s side and his arm, throwing his good leg over Izuku waist and curling himself around him. Izuku grunts with the impact before snuggling closer into Katsuki’s arms. He blinks blearily up at him.

“Feeling okay?” Katsuki asks.

“Mochi-kun healed me up. Just feeling a little woozy because of it,” Izuku mumbles. He buries his nose into Katsuki’s chest and takes a deep, steadying breath.

“Round face said he was still worried about your head.”

Izuku hums. “I think all the blood kind of freaked him out. But I didn’t have any other concussion symptoms, besides a small headache. That’s been gone since he saw to it, though.”

“Are you sure? We have some aspirin if you need it.”

Shifting, Izuku looks up at him with a wide smile and places a hand against Katsuki’s cheek, his fingers brushing along his ear. Katsuki leans into it, letting out a slow breath with all the tension pooled in his chest. “I’m fine, Kacchan. I promise,” he says, leaning up to kiss him, his breath warm and clean against Katsuki’s face. “Thank you for always worrying about me,” he whispers against his lips, looking at Katsuki with half-lidded, adoring eyes.

Katsuki feels himself flush. “You don’t have to thank me, idiot,” he grumbles. “I’m just glad you didn’t break something again. Besides, you’ve been running around here annoying the shit out of me the past three weeks, it’s my turn to nag you again.”

“But you never get hurt!” Izuku laughs. “It’s always you taking care of me! I thought you’d like some pampering.”

“You call that pampering? You’ve been driving me up the wall, Deku,” Katsuki snarls, ruffling Izuku’s hair and making him whine. “You’re the absolute worst, I can’t stand it.”

“Fiiine,” Izuku groans, letting Katsuki tug at his curls, pulling his head side to side. “I won’t buy your favorite spicy snacks until you get better then, since you hate it so much.”

Katsuki immediately stops, his fingers stilling before gently massaging along Izuku’s scalp. “Don’t be so hasty,” he says lowly, pouting. “I do like it when you buy me stuff, after all.” He kisses away the smug grin that breaks across Izuku’s face.

Izuku snickers, rolling into Katsuki’s arms when Tatoru gets tired of their antics and retreats to Katsuki’s pillow. “Spoiled,” Izuku murmurs, as he cuddles closer and immediately starts drifting off. Katsuki stays awake, vigilant, running his fingers through Izuku’s soft curls as the clock counts up to dawn. When he wakes up, Izuku will scold him for not sleeping, but Katsuki doesn’t mind watching over him. He can’t imagine doing anything else.

Chapter Text

Twenty-one

Katsuki kicks impatiently at Izuku’s door, shivering in the crisp winter wind with his hands deep in the pockets of his parka. It’s late in the afternoon and, despite the cold, Katsuki feels incredibly warm with a bag of clothes at his side and a bottle of sake under his arm.

When Izuku opens the door, it’s with a big grin and a flushed face. “Kacchan! Please come in,” he says, a little breathlessly.

“You cleaned,” Katsuki comments as he steps inside, handing off the bottle to Izuku.

“W-Well, yeah!” Izuku says, blushing redder. “It’s the first time I’m having my boyfriend stay the night, so I wanted it to look nice!”

Pulling off his gloves and scarf, Katsuki smiles and rolls his eyes, pleased. “It’s not like I haven’t been here before, Deku. I helped you move in, remember?” he scoffs, pinching Izuku’s cheek when he pouts.

“Fine, since I guess this is like every other day, I’ll have to throw away all the spaghetti I made.”

Katsuki’s head whips around. “You made spaghetti?” he says, gaping. “I didn’t even know you could cook!”

“We can’t all be master chefs like you, Kacchan,” Izuku scoffs back, beginning to flush under Katsuki’s stare. “And… My mom walked me through it.”

Smirking crookedly, Katsuki pulls Izuku close by the waist, ducking his head to meet Izuku’s eyes. “You made a fancy home cooked dinner for me,” he says, trying to bite back the happy grin pulling at the corners of his mouth. “Deku, are you trying to impress me?”

Izuku hides his face in his hands, batting Katsuki away when he tries get a look at his vivid blush. “Kacchan, you’re so mean,” he whines. “Don’t tease me or I really will throw it out.”

“Alright, alright,” Katsuki relents. He kisses Izuku’s cheek before he lets him go, and Izuku smiles. They sit at Izuku’s short table in front of his television, two big bowls of spaghetti in their laps, while they watch variety shows and laugh. Katsuki pulls out his bottle of sake when they’re done eating, and Izuku matches him drink for drink as the night grows darker.

Izuku flips through a few stations before he pauses with a gasp. “I forgot this was today!” Izuku says gleefully, stopping on a live broadcast of some pop group’s concert.

“Ugh, really?”

“Don’t be mean!” Izuku says around singing along with the large group of girls on the screen. The idols bounce around the stage in what looks like a well choreographed and well practiced dance, shifting and taking each other’s place seamlessly as they sing.

The crowd in front of them roars as they transition into another song and Izuku cheers. “Oh, I know this one!” Izuku says, bouncing up off the floor and taking his place beside the television. Immediately, he starts to dance along, singing every word completely off tune.

“What the fuck?” Katsuki says, even though he’s already got his phone out to record it.

Izuku throws his head back laughing as he twirls around, arm movements perfectly in sync with the dancers. His face is flushed prettily from the alcohol, and he grins at Katsuki as he performs another perfect twirl and sashays to the side, singing along with the song, “Kiss me! Your kisses are so sweet. Kiss me! That it’s dangerous. Make all my wishes come true!”

Katsuki huffs out a little laugh, “Do you really like this kind of stuff?”

“Kind of,” Izuku says as he dances around, not out of breath at all. “Ochako really likes them, and she’d make me and Iida do the dances with her all the time back in the dorms. It was pretty embarrassing, but now it’s kind of fun. Oh! We should have done a viewing party! Maybe next time.”

“Have fun with that.” Katsuki says and sends the video to Ochako.

Uraraka 22:30 – Izuku is so cute!! He’s been practicing!

Uraraka 22:30 – UGH! We should have had a viewing party! (╯°益°)╯彡┻━┻

“You’ll have to come too!”

“Fuck no,” he says, turning his phone around to show Izuku a video from Tsuyu of Ochoko and Tenya dancing to the same song, Tenya's arms swinging robotically through the air. “I’m not gonna sit and watch you dorks dance to some shitty pop group.”

Izuku laughs, “Tenya was made for all those arm movements. Look at him go! And you’ll have to dance too!”

Katsuki glares at him. “Fucking hell no.”

“Aw, c’mon Kacchan, I’ll even teach you!”

“I’m not fucking dancing,” he says lowly, even though he feels fuzzy enough to want to, the alcohol sitting warm in his belly.

“Pleeease!” Izuku whines, trying to drag him off the floor. “You might like it. Here, move your arm like this,” he says once Katsuki’s standing, unwillingly, beside him. “And move your hips like this. Just follow me, I’ll go slow!”

Katsuki begrudgingly flings his arms to the side as instructed. The music has long moved on to a different song, but it doesn’t seem to deter Izuku, who apparently has the routine memorized. Izuku moves slowly through the steps, grinning as Katsuki awkwardly mimics him.

“Stop being cute,” Katsuki blurts out, blushing, and Izuku’s grin gets impossibly wider.

“Looks like Talented Bakugou-san isn’t going to appear today.” Katsuki grabs Izuku’s sides, tickling him mercilessly, smirking as Izuku snorts through his laughter. “Forgive me! You’re an amazing dancer, Kacchan!” Katsuki relents, but keeps his hands on Izuku’s sides. Winding his arms around Katsuki’s neck, Izuku sways them side to side, leaning in to press a smile to Katsuki’s lips. “Can I have this dance?” he murmurs, brushing kisses over Katsuki’s jaw line.

Katsuki leans into it, letting Izuku lead him along a slow dance across the living area, kissing Izuku’s rosy cheeks and down his neck. The music isn’t remotely suited for it, the television still pouring out poppy beats and lyrics. But Izuku pulls him a little closer, moving a little slower, until they’re simply turning in an sedate circle in the middle of Izuku’s kitchen, foreheads pressed together and exchanging soft little kisses when it pleases them.

Snow continues to fall outside, but in Izuku’s little apartment, he’s never felt warmer. They’re wrapped so tightly together, strong arms around Katsuki’s neck, and all Katsuki wants to do is pull Izuku closer, even though they’re already pressed flush against each other. They sway back and forth, feet solidly on the ground despite the floating feeling in Katsuki’s stomach. He lays his head on Izuku’s shoulder to press his nose into his neck, breathing in deeply. Izuku smells like tomatoes and sake and sweat. He smells like warmth. Katsuki kisses him there, teeth nipping at Izuku’s collar bone.

Izuku pulls away an inch so he can look up at him with bright eyes and a soft smile that tugs Katsuki in closer and closer until he’s kissing Izuku deeply, his heart thumping so hard in his chest as if it would explode.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Five

Here it comes, Katsuki thinks. He’s sitting ramrod straight, hands on his thighs and feet flat on the ground, trying not to sweat through the casual button up shirt. Izuku lounges beside him, unconcernedly watching television on the couch and patting Katsuki’s knee whenever he tenses up too much. He feels his palms sweating, so he wipes them on his jeans.

“Kacchan,” Izuku murmurs, a fond smile on his lips. “Relax.”

“I’ll relax when I’m dead,” Katsuki hisses, and retaliates to Izuku’s laughter with a pillow to his face.

The doorbell rings and Katsuki’s spine stiffens, snarling over Izuku's chuckle as he hurriedly puts the pillows back in order. Izuku rolls his eyes and stands to answer the door, Katsuki quickly trotting after him and hovering behind Izuku in their entry way. Izuku levels him with an amused stare of his shoulder. “You act like you’ve never met her before, weirdo. I’m pretty sure you drew all over her bathroom walls when we were three,” he says with his one side of his mouth quirked up.

“This is different, stupid Deku,” Katsuki says lowly, seriously.

With as shake of his head, Izuku opens the door to Inko’s smiling face. “Hi Mom! Please come in!” he says cheerfully.

“Oh my, it’s so nice, Izuku! I’m so proud of you!” Inko says, marveling at the inside of the apartment as she steps through the door. Her eyes fall on Katsuki still standing just behind Izuku’s shoulder and smiles. “Katsuki-kun, thank you for inviting me,” she says, sweetly.

Katsuki ducks his head and mumbles out a quick, “No problem.”

Huffing, Izuku hooks his arm through his mom’s. “Kacchan’s being weird!” he says, sing song, and Katsuki has to bite back an insult and settles on just glaring. Izuku’s eyes widen briefly, before his face softens into an understanding smile. He tugs his mom down the hall. “C’mon, we’ll give you the tour! And you have to meet our new roommate!”

Inko raises a brow, amused. “A roommate, hm? I thought this was a place just for you and your boyfriend,” she says teasingly, with a look over her shoulder at Katsuki. He turns his head away.

“Kacchan is actually the one who brought her home. She’s probably napping right now,” Izuku says, opening their bedroom door. Laying in the middle of the immaculately made up bed, Tatoru lifts her head for just a moment to regard them before curling back up to sleep. She’s fatter and healthier looking than what she looked like three weeks before, her now shining coat already filling in the little bald patches.

Cooing, Inko runs her hand along Tatoru’s back. “I’m surprised such a nice place lets you have pets,” she says, scratching behind the kitten’s ear.

“Kacchan bribed the owner with a signed All Might poster.”

“Did not!” Katsuki hisses, pinching Izuku’s arm.

“All Might told him what good hero he was for adopting a stray when Kacchan asked for the autograph,” Izuku teases, dodging Katsuki’s hands. “He said, ‘What a fine heart you have, after all, Bakugou my boy!’ I’ve never seen Kacchan so embarrassed.”

“I don’t have to take this,” Katsuki says, turning on his heel. “I’m giving your mom your dinner, because she’s nicer. Also your impressions suck.”

Katsuki storms away to the kitchen with Inko’s quiet laughter following him. Inwardly, he cringes. Izuku’s teasing is fine, and there’s a part of Katsuki that likes it, likes how Izuku is comfortable enough to say what he wants around Katsuki. But Katsuki doesn’t want Inko to think that he’s still… what he used to be. Her quiet, watchful gaze makes him squirm.

He’s sure that she’s not watching him so closely to pick out his failings, but it sets him on edge regardless. He’s known Inko since before he could remember. She, and Izuku, have been a part of his life since he was a baby. She’s seen him at his worst, but he hopes she’ll notice that he’s now trying to be his best, for Izuku and for himself.

Izuku pops into the kitchen briefly, pressing a gentle kiss to Katsuki’s cheek, a little apologetic, a little comforting. “Do you need any help?”

“Nah,” Katsuki says, kissing him back quickly. “I got it.”

“Okay.” Izuku smiles, warm and sweet, and Katsuki feels that comfortable heat that Izuku always gives him sink into his chest.

With most everything prepared, Katsuki quickly gets to cooking. Working in the kitchen is easy and methodical, and calms the anxious itch under his skin. It’s not long before he’s doling out the broth and noodles into bowls.

“It’s ready,” he calls. Izuku appears at his shoulder to help him carry the various steaming plates to their table, where Inko is already sitting and waiting. Her eyes light up when Katsuki places her bowl in front of her. “Uh, I made your favorite, Auntie,” he says awkwardly.

“Katsuki-kun, you shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble! But thank you, it smells wonderful!” Her smile is sunny and bright, and so like Izuku’s that he has to duck away again.

“It’s no problem,” he murmurs. Izuku shoots him a knowing grin, before he starts yammering away, filling in the empty space where Katsuki is unusually quiet and awkwardly hunched in his chair. Inko peppers in a few questions in between her and Izuku’s chattering, and Katsuki answers them without slipping into great detail. Yes, he likes his new agency. No, the commute isn’t too long. Yes, that curry place is okay. Yes, we can all go together sometime. No, please do not invite my parents.

Inko chuckles behind her hand. “Mitsuki was so jealous that I got to see your home first! I feel so special.”

“That hag can complain all she wants, but she’s not stepping one foot in my house,” Katsuki grumbles into his food, and Inko just laughs along.

“We’ll have to invite them over next week,” Izuku says, tapping the end of his chopstick on his chin and leaving a grain of rice behind. Automatically, Katsuki reaches out and brushes it away. Izuku barely even registers the movement as he continues talking, but Katsuki belatedly notices Inko following the path of his hand. Her lips are pursed as if she’s hiding a smile.

“Thank you for the meal, Katsuki-kun,” Inko says later as she’s stepping into her shoes, back in the entryway as she gets ready to head home.

“It was my pleasure,” Katsuki says, trying not to hunch his shoulders against her warm smile.

“Oh!” Izuku exclaims. “I forgot to give you back your photo album, Mom. Just a second.” Katsuki warily watches him dash away, his plan to not be left alone with Inko dashed.

“You know, Katsuki-kun,” Inko says softly. Reluctantly, he meet her eyes, and they’re sparkling. “You two are amazing heroes, but you’re also amazing young men. I’m so glad the two of you take such good care of each other.”

Katsuki feels himself flush a bright red, but he swallows and nods at the acknowledgement, suddenly wondering just when he gained her approval to be with her son.

Izuku slides into the space beside him easily, his arm warm against Katsuki’s, as he says good-bye to Inko. She departs with a happy smile and wave, closing the door behind her with a unobtrusive click.

Sliding his hand into Katsuki’s, Izuku bends so he can look up into Katsuki’s bowed face. “That wasn’t so bad was it?” Katsuki shakes his head and kisses Izuku back when he leans up, pulling Izuku close with his arms around his waist.

Chapter Text

Thirty

The light of the laptop flickers in the darkness of their bedroom, fans whirring where it sits on top of the duvet. Izuku is curled up in the center of their bed, a blanket pulled around his shoulders and over his head. In his lap, Tatoru purrs gently, with her face pressed against his knee and stretched out in sleep. Blinking sleepily at the movie he’d put on, Izuku idly runs a hand through her thick fur, basking in her warmth.

Katsuki’s been gone for three days, and, as late as it is, Izuku’s lucky that tomorrow is the beginning of his weekend.

On the bedside table, Izuku’s phone buzzes, and Izuku tries not to jump to grab it and disturb the sleeping cat. He eagerly reaches over though, before leaning back against the pillows to read the text message.

Kacchan 01:05 – you’re probably asleep but new york is fucking boring you should have come with me

Izuku tries to suppress a smile as he types back, his heart fluttering with happiness, and he has to physically hold himself back from bouncing in the bed.

Me 01:05 – Aw, do you miss me that much? (´ω`*)

Kacchan 01:05 – shut up asshole of course i do

Kacchan 01:06 – did i wake you up?

Kacchan 01:06 – sorry you should be asleep

Me 01:06 – It’s okay. I couldn’t sleep anyways.

Me 01:06 – Miss you too much.

Kacchan 01:06 – sap

Me 01:06 – ( ˘ ³ ˘ )

Kacchan 01:07 – arent you supposed to be thirty? stop with the stupid faces

Me 01:07 – Make me. (๑ÒωÓ๑)

Kacchan 01:07 – ugh

Giggling, Izuku placatingly scratches behind Tatoru’s ears when she glares blearily up at him for shaking her too much. She yawns big and wide, before stretching out again and relaxing, draped over Izuku’s lap and boneless. Izuku aims his camera phone at her and snaps a quick picture.

Me 01:08 – [Picture sent.] Tatoru has no such problem sleeping without you.

Kacchan 01:08 – that bitch see if buy her anymore damn toys

Me 01:08 – I told you she loves me more.

Kacchan 01:08 – ಠ_ಠ

Tatoru gets up with an annoyed mewl when Izuku bursts into laughter, abandoning his lap to curl up on Katsuki’s pillow and flicking her tail at him when he tries to apologetically pet her.

“Sorry, Tato-chan,” he says, grinning from ear to ear. He feels a little like a teenager again, waiting for Katsuki to work up the nerve to text him back late in the night when they should have been sleeping. It’s a bubbly feeling in chest, a restless itch to sneak out and meet Katsuki in the dark.

But this time Katsuki’s half way across the world, and there are no rules stopping Izuku from talking to him late into the night, besides the notion of responsibility that he needs to be up at a respectable time in the morning. And that conviction pales next to how much Izuku misses Katsuki right now.

Kacchan 01:09 – let me call you

Fighting back a pleased smile, Izuku closes his laptop and settles in under the covers. The bedroom is completely dark, except for the light of his phone as his calls Katsuki's number, a photo of Katsuki’s scowling face behind the numbers.

“Hey,” Katsuki says in greeting, his tinny voice filling the room where Izuku has the speaker turned up loud. The sound of it catches in Izuku’s chest, a little tight and a little painful, but a balm all the same to hear his voice.

“Hey,” Izuku says back. “Miss you.”

Katsuki hums, and says quietly, “Miss you too, Deku.” Izuku can hear the smile in his words.

“Come home.”

“Pfft,” Katsuki snorts. “I wish. Ashido would melt my face off, though. Then she’d call you crying, and saying how mean I was for leaving early after years of her begging for everyone to visit.”

“I knooow,” Izuku whines, over Katsuki chuckle. “Is the bakusquad at least having fun in New York?”

“All three of them are fucking sick from eating too many goddamn hot dogs. We’re supposed to go sight-seeing tonight for before we head upstate. I was promised camping, Deku, this is bullshit.”

“You’ll get to go, I’m sure.”

Katsuki hums noncommittally. “What are you doing anyways?”

“Watching a documentary.”

“Nerd.”

“It was the All Might one that came out last week.”

“You bastard! You were supposed to wait for me! Stop laughing, shitty Deku, I wanted to see that one!”

“Kacchan,” Izuku says between his laughter. “I didn’t watch that one, I promise. I’m waiting until you get back.”

“You better,” Katsuki grumbles.

“Now who’s the nerd?”

“No one will find your body.”

“Kacchan’s sooo sweet. No, I was watching one about the new theory on the first quirks and why they came to be. Pretty in depth,” he says, rambling on and occasionally interrupted by Katsuki’s thoughtful comments. Katsuki’s voice is calming, the restless energy Izuku had sitting in his chest evening out as they talk, moving on from contemporary quirk theories to Izuku’s plans for the next day with Ochako and Tenya to Katsuki’s flight schedule the next week.

Before long, Izuku opens his eyes to the mid-morning sun streaming through his windows and his phone buzzing where he’d left it on the pillow beside his head as they talked.

“Hello?” he answers, sleepily.

“Deku-kun!” Uraraka says cheerily through the speaker. “Bakugou was right, you did sleep in! We’re going to just come to your apartment instead of meeting at the park, since you’re already running late, okay?”

Izuku yawns widely around an “Okay.” They quickly get off the phone, and Izuku sits up to stretch, phone sitting in his curled palms against his knees. Tatoru peeks around the corner and meows at him, ready for breakfast. “I’m getting up,” he says sleepily to her. “Just give me a second.”

She responds with a purr, rubbing her side against the door.

Smiling, Izuku checks his unread messages.

Kacchan 02:32 – you fell asleep on me nerd

Kacchan 02:32 – get some rest

Kacchan 02:32 – miss you, call me tomorrow ♡

A slow, happy smile spreads across Izuku’s face, the kind that would make Katsuki pinch his cheeks and call him sappy. He types out a quick reply as he pulls himself out of their big lonely bed to get ready for the day.

Me 09:44 – I miss you too, Kacchan 

Chapter Text

Twenty-Seven

Izuku takes a deep breath, letting the evening air fill his lungs before releasing it in a happy sigh. “It’s so good to get out of the apartment,” he says, grinning.

“Yeah, until people start to mob us for an interview,” Katsuki hisses, pulling Izuku’s hat further down over his eyes. He’s looking left and right as he hastily pushes Izuku along, mindful of the slings holding up Izuku’s casts. "Watch your step," he murmurs when they reach the ascending stairs into the park.

“It’ll be fine,” Izuku says, his good mood immune to Katsuki’s sour face, letting Katsuki help him balance up the steps. It’s been four days since Izuku’s reckless battle that left both of his arms fractured in several places, four days of being cooped up in their apartment to avoid reporters and fans. Turns out the best way to get media attention is to have a building dropped on your head, and catching it.

If Recovery Girl was angry, Katsuki had been absolutely livid, spitting curses even as he had violently shoved food in Izuku’s face since he couldn’t use his arms.

“Serves you right,” he had snapped when Izuku had grumbled about Recovery Girl’s refusal to speed up his healing. “Next time, get out of the goddamn way of the seventeen story office complex flying at your face instead of trying to catch it like some kind of suped-upped, block-headed idiot.”

“They’re only sight fractures and it’s been nearly ten years since I last broke them,” Izuku had pouted. “I was just trying to minimize collateral damage!”

“Shut up, jerk, and eat this. I went out of my way to buy you this stupid fruit, so enjoy it before I bury you.”

After the hospital and the four days of going stir-crazy together, Izuku has finally convinced Katsuki to go on a walk through the nearby park. Katsuki grudgingly agreed, but still shoved a baseball cap and sunglasses on Izuku’s head before he helped Izuku slide his casts into his jacket, adjusting the slings on Izuku’s shoulders until he was sure they were comfortable.

Izuku has to constantly fight off a delighted smile when Katsuki fusses over him, or his boyfriend will turn seven shades of red and pull his hair.

Even now, he purses his lip to hide it as Katsuki’s arm snakes possessively around his waist, his chest a line of warmth along Izuku’s side. Luckily, Katsuki’s too busy eyeing their surroundings to notice Izuku duck his head to hide his laughter.

They make their way slowly towards the park, Izuku basking in the fading autumn sunlight. The trees are already changing into vivid colors, their leaves twirling through the crisp breeze and crunching beneath their shoes. As dusk begins to settle, most of the parks inhabitants leave for home, only a few groups of teenagers and young adults still wandering the curving paths.

Katsuki finds them a bench near the riverside, brushing off the seat before the two of them sit with Izuku tucked snugly under his arm. They let the night descend around them as they chat, soaking up the cooling air and each other as Katsuki finally relaxes.

Izuku rests his head on Katsuki’s shoulder, the hat and sunglasses abandoned on bench beside them. “This is nice,” he murmurs, bumping his knee with Katsuki’s.

Humming, Katsuki rubs his cheek against Izuku’s curls and Izuku can feel his smile. “Yeah, whatever,” he grunts. “Better than listening to you whine.”

If he could, Izuku would pinch his side, but as it is, he settles for kicking Katsuki’s ankle in retaliation. “You should be nicer to me,” he huffs. “I’m the one with two broken arms, unable to even feed myself. If you were kinder, maybe I’d heal faster.”

“Oh yeah?” Katsuki grins, sly as he leans into Izuku’s space. “How kind do you want me to be?”

Izuku pretends to think about it before smirking. “You could go get us grilled dango.”

Groaning, Katsuki lets his head flop back. “Fine,” he says as though Izuku’s asked him to pull the moon from the sky. He stands, purposefully jostling Izuku and mussing his hair. “Don’t disappear while I’m gone, or I’m eating it all by myself.”

“I won’t move an inch!” Izuku says with a grin. Katsuki looks at him skeptically for a moment before he turns away towards the line of food stands just past their seat, disappearing among them. Izuku watches him go with a fond smile, before tilting his head back and closing his eyes. He listens to the running water for a long moment, soft sounds of people talking and the smell of cooking food wafting over him. His heart feels full and content despite the aching in his arms. He thinks back at Katsuki’s distressed face when Izuku had finally emerged from the rubble. Katsuki had wiped the look away in an instant, and had glued himself to Izuku’s side afterwards, fussing and badgering Izuku all the way to the hospital.

He had looked at Izuku, covered in white dust and holding his arms gingerly at his sides, with relief and pride despite his sharp words. Izuku smiles, still feeling a little giddy about it.

“U-Um, excuse me?”

Izuku opens his eyes at the soft murmur, looking up at the young girl standing anxiously on the path. She’s alone, twisting the hem her middle school uniform skirt in her hands as she squirms in front of him.

“Hi there,” Izuku says gently, unsure if she recognizes him or if she needs something. “Is there something I can do for you?”

She looks up at him bashfully, shifting her bag on her shoulder. “Are you the hero Deku?” she asks hesitantly.

Casting another quick look around to make sure no one else is listening, Izuku nods. “That's me. But please don’t tell anyone I’m around,” he says with a laugh and a wink. “I’m still trying to dodge the reporters.”

“I won’t!” she says, her face going red. “I promise! I-I’m sorry for bothering you—”

“It’s okay,” Izuku hastens to add. “I really don’t mind, I’m just waiting for Kacchan to come back.”

Her eyes go wide. “K-K—B-Bakugou Katsuki?!” she stutters.

“Oi, Deku,” come the call from down the path. The girl squeaks as Katsuki approaches, two sticks of dango in hand. He eyes the middle schooler critically for a moment, and Izuku watches as Katsuki shifts into the stiff, awkward adult he’s come to be in the face of young fans.

“Ground Zero!” the girl gasps, her face flushing another shade redder.

“Yo,” Katsuki says, uncomfortable.

She gapes at both of them for a long moment, before bowing suddenly and deeply. “May I please get an autograph?!” she whisper yells, mindful of the people nearby.

“Ah,” Izuku says, grimacing. “I’m afraid I can’t.” He wiggles the tips of his fingers peeking past the casts.

“O-oh, I’m sorry, I should have—”

“How about a selfie instead!” Izuku says brightly, standing from the bench with Katsuki’s help. “If you’re okay with it,” he tacks on, looking at the awkward line of Katsuki’s mouth with a smirk.

“Um, sure,” Katsuki agrees, still holding the dango aloft as he waves away the girl’s second deep bow and stuttering thanks. The two of them bend low to get on her level as she holds her phone up, her smile on the screen one of excited awe. Izuku’s grin is big and cheesy to make up for the grumpy twist on Katsuki’s face. On the second click, Katsuki shoves the dango into Izuku’s face, capturing Izuku’s surprised stuttering and Katsuki’s devilish smirk.

The girl leaves them laughing and promising to get home safely, excitedly bounding away with her one-of-a-kind prize. Katsuki doesn’t often take photos with his fans.

“Sorry, I know you don’t like doing that,” Izuku apologizes, chewing on the sticky dough.

“It’s fine,” Katsuki grumbles. He looks away when Izuku takes another bright of the proffered stick, gently wiping away a bit of the sweet sauce that sticks to the corner of Izuku's mouth. “She promised not to post it online until later. We should still probably get out of here though, it’s getting pretty late.”

Izuku hums contentedly, allowing Katsuki to shove his hat back on his head and the arm around his waist to pull him towards the park’s exit. He takes a last bite of the grilled dango before Katsuki tosses the sticks into the recycling on their way out.

“Thanks for walking with me,” Izuku says quietly, leaning into Katsuki’s side.

Katsuki turns his head just enough to press a warm kiss to Izuku’s curls. “Anytime,” he murmurs, hugging Izuku close as they head home.

Chapter Text

Twenty-One

“He’s just so… Ugh,” Izuku groans, head falling against the edge of the bathtub beside Ochako’s leg. She pats his back placatingly, giggling. “And then he just goes and… Ugh.”

Ochako shakes with her laughter, her fingers patting him harder and harder. Her face is a bright, warm red from all the mixed drinks Kyouka had pressed upon her, and Izuku realizes that his face is probably just as flushed. His tongue is numb, too. Everything is a little spinny and all the alcohol sloshes uncomfortably in his stomach.

“I’m going to ask him to marry me,” Izuku slurs, pressing his heated forehead to the cool ceramic.

“Haven’t you two only been dating for a few months?” she says around another fit of giggles. “Officially at least, hah.”

Izuku lifts his head to squint up at her. “Is… that important?”

“Probably a little?”

“Hmmm,” Izuku mumbles, holding chin in hand. “We’ve known each other since we were in diapers, but it did take us quite a while to get to this point. I probably shouldn’t press him too hard, Kacchan gets really embarrassed about this kind of stuff still, even though it's been two months and twenty-three days. I should probably wait for at least another year,” he babbles, and Ochako snorts, patting his head.

“You’re thinking too hard again, Deku-kun,” she says. “Let it happen naturally, especially for Bakugou’s sake.”

“What are we doing for my sake?” Katsuki says, stumbling into the bathroom and slumping against the doorframe. “Hopefully not puking.”

From his place on the very deep purple bathroom mat, Izuku looks up until he’s falling backwards onto the tiled floor. “Kacchan! You’re back!”

“Yep," Katsuki says, his eyes shining. "Did you hurl?”

“Nope!”

“Good deal.”

“My tongue is numb, though,” Izuku says, poking it out to show him.

Ochako bursts into another fit of giggles, and Katsuki snorts, kneeling down to balance one of the red sports drinks on Izuku’s sweaty forehead. “Here, drink this. You’ll feel better,” he says, with a small smile, before handing one off to Ochako.

“Oooh, thank you so much, Kacchan,” she coos. Katsuki pushes her into the empty tub, her laughter echoing in the cramped bathroom.

Izuku sits up and scoots to the side so Katsuki can sit beside him, their thighs and arms pressed together, and Katsuki’s head falls heavily onto Izuku’s shoulder. He tries not to freeze up, with Katsuki so close and his hair tickling the edges of Izuku’s jaw. His voice vibrates along Izuku’s skin like fireworks as he and Ochako banter back and forth. Izuku sips on the fruity sports drink, feeling a little less floaty but just as full and warm. Katsuki is solid and heavy against his side where he slumps against him.

“Bakugou, where did you even get a whole loaf of bread?” Ochako splutters.

It’s only then that Izuku notices that Katsuki has been steadily eating slice after slice of white sandwich bread as they had been sitting. He pauses at Ochako’s question, lifting his head to eye the bag between his feet. “Fuck if I know,” he eventually grumbles, and offers a slice to her.

Both Ochako and Izuku burst in loud peals of laughter, gasping for breath.

“Oi, people need to actually use the bathroom,” Kyouka says suddenly. She looks just as cool and aloof as ever, a sly smile on her slightly flushed face. “C’mon, get out of here you sloppy drunks,” she says, helping Katsuki up from the floor. He wobbles a moment before he reaches a hand down for Izuku.

Izuku trails Katsuki as they exit the bathroom, Kyouka’s laughter following them as she tries to help Ochako out of the tub. The house has mostly emptied of the many twenty-somethings that had flooded it hours ago, people mostly from Kyouka’s college classes and her internship along with a good many of their old classmates. When Katsuki had asked Izuku to come with him, he’d been a little apprehensive, not usually one for big social parties like this.

But as soon as they had arrived, Kyouka had pressed drinks in their hands and had never let them empty. Izuku’s still not sure how exactly she does it, in between all the drinking competitions many of the partygoers had challenged her to.

“Hail hydrate,” she had said mysteriously when he had asked. Izuku left it at that.

Katsuki flops onto one of the empty couches, pulling Izuku down beside him as he goes. Izuku sits up, leaning back into the soft, leather cushions and letting Katsuki stretch out across his lap like an oversized, drunk cat.

“You guys can crash here,” Kyouka says as she passes by and pressing a giggling Ochako into a nearby recliner. Denki stumbles by and flops onto the rug, crawling underneath the coffee table to curl up.

“Does he usually do that?” Izuku asks, pointing at where only Denki’s leg is stretched out and visible.

“Oh yeah, dude, Bakusquad parties here way too often,” Kyouka says, now leading a mumbling Mina over to share the recliner with Ochako.

“Stop calling them Bakusquad, dammit,” Katsuki grumbles, even as he turns over to press his face into Izuku’s stomach, his arms snaking around Izuku’s waist to cuddle him tightly. Izuku grunts with the force of it, but lets his hands wander to Katsuki’s hair, fingers threading through it.

Kyouka ignores Katsuki. “That’s, like, Denki’s spot. Scared the crap out of my dad the first few times, but now we just leave a plate of bacon under there for him in the mornings.”

Katsuki squeezes Izuku tighter when he starts to shake with laughter, rubbing his face against Izuku’s ribs before he relaxes. Kyouka snorts, pulling out her camera. “Say cheese, Deku.” Izuku throws up a peace sign, grinning as she snaps a picture.

“You’ll send it to me?”

“Dude, it’s supposed to be blackmail,” she says with a smile. “But yeah, I’ll send it to you. Need anything? Yaomomo and Touru usually crash in my room, and Kirishima’s been knocked out since ten, so you won’t hear from him for another good eight hours.”

“No, we’re fine. Thanks, Jirou-san, and for inviting me.”

“Anytime, dude,” she says over her shoulder with a smirk. “You’re always invited. Especially now that Bakugou’s finally got his panties on right. I need more blackmail on him, so come around more.”

Izuku laughs and waves her away as she disappears into the depths of the house. Ochako and Mina are already stretched out in sleep, and Denki’s snoring floats up from beneath the coffee table. He looks down at Katsuki, who’s pressed close and breathing deeply against Izuku’s stomach.  

“Thanks for inviting me along,” Izuku whispers, dropping a kiss on the top of Katsuki’s head and settling back into the couch to let sleep take him.

Chapter Text

 

Eighteen and Seventeen

The wooded area inside of U.A.’s campus is usually reserved for training for students like Kouji or Ibara, whose quirks align well in a natural setting, but it’s also good for those students who are inept in such an environment. Katsuki has been out here more times than he can count, training to minimize the damage his blasts can do in flammable territory. In the most recent months, Izuku has often joined him to ‘have target practice,’ as Katsuki had grumbled.

Izuku had readily agreed. It was a good work out for him, and if it helped out his childhood friend, Izuku was happy to comply.

But during this year’s summer training camp (now held on school grounds after their disastrous first year), the small forest has been dedicated to the test of courage.

“I can understand if some of you would like to sit out from this activity,” Aizawa says boredly, looking over the congregation of classes 3A and 3B. “I don’t really care, so do what you want, except destroying the school.” With that, he walks off, leaving Midnight and Blood Hero to sort out the classes. Class 3B disappears amongst the trees, throwing taunts and challenges over their shoulders.

Katsuki snorts beside Izuku, crossing his arms and grumbling, “This is so fucking stupid.”

Nudging him gently, Izuku gives him a shy smile. “I think it should be fun, right? I didn’t even get to do it our first year, and Sensei wouldn’t let us last year.”

“It’s boring,” Katsuki says with a shrug and a scowl.

“We could get someone to kidnap you, if that’ll liven it up—” Izuku trails off, laughing when Katsuki puts him in a headlock, tugging on his hair and cursing.

“And Bakugou is with Todoroki,” Midnight calls over their tussling. “I’m sorry Midoriya, you’re on your own since Kaminari-kun is still recovering from the overuse of his quirk.”

“Again?!” They both cry out, Katsuki glaring daggers at Shouto. Izuku just hangs his head, still caught under Katsuki’s arms.

Shouto just sighs, and raises his hand. “I’d actually like to sit it out,” he says, dully. “It’s too troublesome, I’d rather go on home.”

“Hmmm,” Midnight says with furrowed brow. “That’s no fun at all, but if you’d like, you’re dismissed. Bakugou and Midoriya will partner up instead. I will not be responsible for any property damage, you two.” She points at them, glaring.

“Ah, yes ma’am!” Izuku says, a little relieved but suddenly nervous. Katsuki releases him quickly, shifting awkwardly beside him. He turns to bid Shouto farewell, flushing brightly when his friend gives him two thumbs up with a completely blank face.

“You’re welcome,” he says as he passes.

“For what?!”

Shouto says nothing as he disappears around the corner with a parting wave over his shoulder. Izuku stares after him, his face steadily growing warmer.

“C’mon Deku,” Katsuki says, not looking at him. “Let’s just get this over with.”

“Oh.” Izuku deflates a bit. “Did you not want me?”

“HUH?! What was that, nerd?!” Katsuki snaps, face suddenly vividly red from anger, or maybe something else. Izuku jumps at the volume of it, putting his hands up placatingly.

“Sorry! I just, if you didn’t want me with you, that’s okay!”

“Who the fuck said that?!” Katsuki shouts. “I’ll kick their ass!”

“No one said anything!” Izuku yells back. “Why are we shouting?!”

“Fuck if I know!”

“Well stop!”

“Holy crow you two, please… just stop,” Eijirou says, grabbing them both by the shoulder and pushing them forward. “It’s your turn, please don’t yell at each other the entire way through. You’re gonna scare 3B more than they'll scare us.”

Izuku’s face burns with embarrassment, but Katsuki snarls, grabbing Izuku’s elbow and pulling him into the woods, dropping it as soon as they’re on the path. For a while, they walk quietly side by side, not looking at each other. The summer night is warm and humid, the crickets loud around them. Izuku's shirt sticks to his skin as he begins to sweat.

“Sorry,” Katsuki grumbles. Izuku looks at him, shocked. “Shouldn’t have yelled.”

“Oh,” Izuku says, and he finds himself smiling just a little, relief pooling in his stomach. “It’s okay. I’m sorry, too, for making you mad.”

“You didn’t make me mad,” Katsuki snaps, turning to glare at him, but his face twitches and he takes a deep breath. “I mean, I don’t like how you just assume what I’m thinking without me saying anything, but I wasn’t mad about it.”

“Right,” Izuku says, feeling his smile grow despite the nervousness buzzing under his skin. He marvels a bit at how far they’ve come, being able to talk like this to each other, to resolve their misunderstanding so quickly after a fight. The thought of it makes him a little giddy, hyper aware of Katsuki's proximity by his side.

Izuku shrieks, stumbling into Katsuki when something brushes his ankle. He steadies Izuku with both hands on his chest, turning towards Ibara who peeks out from behind a tree.

“You’re not supposed to touch anyone!” he snaps at her.

“My apologies!” she says, surprised and bowing deeply. “It’s a little dark so I can’t see very well. I’ll take it off of Monoma-kun’s tally.”

“I-It’s okay!” Izuku says, still a little startled. He bows to her, before turning to catch up with Katsuki, stumbling again over the uneven path.

“Damn, Deku,” Katsuki hisses, yanking him upright. “Can't you walk straight or something?”

“Sorry, Kacchan, I’m a little nervous.”

“What the fuck are you nervous for?” Katsuki asks, glaring when Tetsutetsu and Jurota erupt from the bushes, roaring. Izuku jumps near out of his skin at their sudden appearance. “This is fucking lame.”

Izuku presses a hand flat to his chest, his heart hammering between his ribs. “Right. Totally boring,” he says with a small laugh. Something large moves along the path up ahead, and Izuku can barely resist the urge to walk closer at Katsuki’s side. “C-Can I hold your hand?” he asks timidly, before he can rethink it.

Katsuki freezes beside him, looking at Izuku with big, round eyes.

“Or not! It’s fine,” he backpedals.

Covering his face with one hand, Katsuki snatches Izuku’s with the other. His palm is slick with sweat, and he grips Izuku’s fingers so tightly, his knuckles turn white. “C’mon,” he growls, and pulls Izuku along until they're practically jogging down the path, Katsuki just ahead of him. Izuku stumbles along, wondering vaguely what their running away from, but too focused on the heat of Katsuki’s hand in his, their grip tight, the connection strong between them as they dodge out of Itsuka’s large, grasping hands.

“Please walk, and don’t run!” she calls after them.

Katsuki slows just a bit, but doesn’t drop Izuku’s hand. They barely even acknowledge Yui and Pony’s ghostly wails as they pass. Izuku trails along just behind Katsuki, his eyes drifting up from their hold on each other to Katsuki’s back. Glancing over his broad shoulder, Izuku thinks he can glimpse a small, wobbly smile on Katsuki’s face. When they come out on the other side, their hands are still laced together between them.

Chapter Text

Seventeen

Katsuki stands awkwardly in front of the dorm building, idly stretching his calf muscles. It’s a brisk December morning, and frost is still clinging to the grass. He’s already cold, but he ignores the shivering in his muscles as he stretches, preparing to work up a good sweat. Taking a deep breath, he balances on one foot to pull at his ankle, calming the quiet, jittery squirming of his stomach.

“Good morning, Kacchan!”

Katsuki whips around and stumbles, biting back a curse. “Don’t sneak up on me, Deku!”

“Sorry,” Izuku says sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. Katsuki swallows reflexively. Izuku’s running pants hug tightly to his thighs, and his hoodie is snug across his defined chest. The sleeves are rolled up over his forearms, the muscled length of them stretching the fabric. To make matters worse, Izuku’s hair peaks out from beneath a large knit hat, framing his round face and eyes.

“Whatever,” Katsuki says, looking away and hoping he can play off the blush as cold. Stupid Deku and his stupid face.

Izuku just smiles as he begins to stretch as well. “Thanks for inviting me,” he says brightly, arms raised towards the dark sky. “I didn’t realize you got up so early every day just to go jogging.”

Shrugging, Katsuki leads them towards the walking path that snakes through U.A.’s campus. “I feel more better during the day if I go ahead and burn off energy in the morning,” he says simply, glancing back. Izuku is watching him, a shy smile still on his face, and it’s all Katsuki can do not stare.

“Is something wrong?”

“Nothing!” Katsuki snaps and immediately wants to slap himself. “I just… realized I forgot my hat.” Which is true. Katsuki hates the cold like nothing else, and usually keeps all extremities covered during winter months.

Chuckling, Izuku pulls off the knit beanie, his hair sticking up with the static from it. “Here, you can borrow mine,” he offers, holding it out.

Katsuki eyes it like a bomb, internally peeved by the warm flush in his chest and stomach at Izuku’s offer. “It’ll get really sweaty,” he grumbles, unable to meet Izuku’s gaze.

“I don’t mind,” Izuku says. “In fact, you should keep it. I can make another.”

“You made it?” Katsuki asks, feeling the crooked stitches of yarn. He hadn’t even noticed how lumpy it was, the deep red and dark purple a little too uneven. But it feels warm and heavy, the yarn soft under Katsuki’s fingers.

“Y-Yeah,” Izuku stutters, looking extremely embarrassed. “T-Tsuyu-chan was making Christmas presents for her family and asked if I wanted to make one for my mom, so I said yes, but it took a while to get the hang of it. That’s the best one that I’ve made, even better than the one I’m giving to my mom, but she likes brighter colors so I decided not to—”

Katsuki shoves the hat onto his head and over his ears, the babbling string of words coming to an abrupt halt. It's still warm and smells faintly of Izuku's shampoo, fruity and bright. “Thanks,” he says, lowly.

“N-No problem,” Izuku murmurs, his face bright red.

Without saying anything, they begin to jog. At this time of day, there’s no one around, not even early risers and professors. The sky still a deep purple with the faintest hints of pink behind the trees, and the only thing really lighting their way are the security lights along the path. They keep an even pace for a while, Izuku easily keeping up with Katsuki’s usual stride. The heavy tempo of their footfalls keeps them company, loud over the morning titter of birds and the distant sound of morning traffic. Katsuki feels himself relax as they find their rhythm together, jogging side by side. Izuku is barely two feet away from him, and if Katsuki wanted to, he could reach out and touch him.

They reach the far side of campus, taking the loop around that points them back towards the dorms. Katsuki only takes a moment to consider it, before he turns to Izuku with a challenging grin.

“Race you back.”

“You’re on,” Izuku says, his eyes gleaming with excitement.

They take off in unison, sprinting full tilt along the winding trail, trading the lead back and forth until they burst through the doors and collapse in the entry way.

“I,” Katsuki gasps. “Win.”

“No way!” Izuku cries, panting. “I won!”

“Fuck you, Deku. I beat you.”

“Dudes.” The two of them look up from the respective piles on the floor. Hanta stares at them with wide eyes, toothbrush in hand. “Have you been fighting? At six in the morning?” he says, voice raising in disbelief.

“Jogging,” both of them defend in unison.

If Hanta’s eyebrows go any higher up his head, they’ll be lost forever. “Jogging?” His eyes drift to Katsuki who looks away, scowling. “Oooh,” Hanta says, slowly grinning. Katsuki growls as he gets back to his feet, a little shaky and very sweaty.

“Yep,” Izuku says brightly, despite the heavy slump of his arms and the flush on his face. “It was a lot of fun!”

“That’s good,” Hanta says, and Katsuki really wants to slap the toothy grin off his face. “That’s really good! Right, Bakugou?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, eyes trained on the floor and not on the glistening skin of Izuku’s neck and arms.

“Thanks for inviting me again,” Izuku says earnestly, and his smile is near blinding when he turns to Katsuki. “I’m going to get a shower and get ready. See you guys in class!” And with that, Izuku disappears into the stairwell, giving Katsuki a full view of the way those tight joggers hug Izuku’s ass.

Katsuki drags the hat off his head to bury his face in it, muffling his frustrated scream. Hanta laughs, patting him on the back. “Progress, dude! And I’m super humbled you followed my advice!”

Sighing, Katsuki strips out of his hoodie, his sweat cool on his skin. “Better than anything the rest of you idiots had,” he grumbles. His fingers dig into the soft hat in his hand. Izuku hadn't asked for it back, and Katsuki wasn't sure if he should or wanted to return it.

“Hah, yeah,” Hanta says, his eyes dropping to the hat in Katsuki’s hand. “Nice knit dude, did your grandma make it?” he says, nudging Katsuki with a smirk and a snort.

Katsuki smacks him.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Three

“Hey, Deku,” Katsuki says, interrupting Izuku’s chattering where he’s working on his laptop, by thrusting a spoonful of curry in his face. “You might like this, so try it.”

Izuku scrunches up his nose. “Kacchan always makes it too spicy,” he says, eyeing the spoon like it’s a weapon. Katsuki glares at him, holding the spoon closer. Izuku glares back before he gives in, and takes a small bite. He looks at Katsuki with pleasant surprise. “Oh, sweet and spicy! It’s amazing!”

“Fuck yeah it is,” Katsuki crows, dipping his spoon back into the simmering curry to taste. “It’s not too sweet is it?”

“Mmm, nah,” Izuku says, coming up beside him to steal another bite. “I really like it. Why’d you change the recipe?”

Katsuki pulls out two small plates for them both, ladling just a little of the rice and curry before handing them off to Izuku. “Why do you think, you nerd,” he says as he goes about storing the rest in the fridge. “My boyfriend is a wimpy baby who can’t handle a little heat.”

Pouting, Izuku sticks his tongue out. “So mean,” he says when Katsuki joins him at the little dinner table, pinching his side as he sits. Katsuki swats his hands off, scooting his chair away with a glare and kicking at Izuku’s legs when he starts to scoot his chair closer. “I’ll chase you all the way around this table,” Izuku threatens.

With a sigh, Katsuki relents, ignoring Izuku sliding his chair right up next to him and dumping a bottle of spices onto his plate. “Don’t get mad when I end up elbowing you,” he grumbles at Izuku, pressed close to his side.

Izuku just smiles, before digging into his dinner. Katsuki’s apartment is spacious for a studio apartment, his bed tucked away in a corner behind the couch and a curtain. His kitchen takes up half of the room, the appliances all a shiny, new stainless steel. Izuku’s sure that’s the only reason Katsuki chose the place. When he’s rarely here, he’s either sleeping or cooking, preparing his meals for the week or something to take to Izuku’s apartment when he visits.

He didn’t expect to have the bigger housing of the two of them, but Katsuki claimed that he didn’t really take up a lot of space anyways. Most of his things were still in his room at his parents’ house. Katsuki may see this apartment as just temporary accommodations, but Izuku has learned to love it and to love invading Katsuki’s space.

Bumping shoulders and elbows, they chat about their week and their missions. Katsuki smiles widely, trying to get Izuku to try a bite from his plate. He laughs when Izuku tells him about Sir Nighteye’s most recent intern, and leans in to kiss Izuku’s cheek when he thanks Katsuki for the meal, his lips curved softly.

Katsuki’s smiles come easy and soft these days. Sometimes Izuku doesn’t have to do anything but meet his eye for the corners of Katsuki’s mouth to turn up, his eyes shining.

“Hey Kacchan,” Izuku says, pausing where he’s scrubbing their dishes clean. Katsuki hums from the couch where he’s scrolling through the news on his phone, an indication that he’s listening. “Would you ever want to move in?”

Looking up, Katsuki furrows his brow in question. “What? Move in what?”

Izuku swallows, suddenly nervous. He really didn’t think this through. He wipes his hands on the dishtowel before approaching Katsuki, taking a seat beside him.

“I mean… Would you like to move in, someplace. You know, together?” he asks with an awkward grimace, twisting his fingers together.

Katsuki stares at him for a long moment. “Like, live together?” he says slowly.

“Yeah,” Izuku hesitantly agrees. “You. Me. In an apartment. Together.”

Katsuki stares blankly at him a little longer before he scowls. “Dammit, Deku,” he growls. “I can’t fucking believe you.”

“I’m sorry, we can just forget I said an—”

“Always have to do everything first you, asshole,” Katsuki grumbles, putting his hand over Izuku mouth. “You gotta be the one to kiss me first, or ask me out on a date first, or invite me to stay the night over first. Now you’re gonna ask me to move in with you first.”

“Yeah…” Izuku says meekly, muffled against Katsuki hand. Something light and warm swoops through him, happiness bubbling on his tongue.

Katsuki pulls him in to kiss him soundly, tilting his head to delve deeper and pulling Izuku close until he’s curled up in Katsuki’s lap and wrapped around each other. “It’s not fair,” Katsuki grumbles against Izuku’s mouth, nibbling a little on his bottom lip.

“So, is that a yes?” Izuku asks excitedly, touching their foreheads together, his arms around Katsuki’s neck.

“Yes to what?” Katsuki says with a stubborn glare. “Ask me properly, jerk.”

“Kacchan, will you move in with me?” Izuku says, grinning happily and raining kisses down on Katsuki’s cheeks.

Katsuki catches his mouth with his, pressing Izuku closer with a hand in his hair. “Yeah, okay,” he whispers before diving in again to kiss Izuku breathless, pushing him down into the couch cushions and propping himself on his elbows above Izuku. “We’ll have to find somewhere between our two agencies,” he says seriously.

“That’ll be fine! I don’t mind a longer commute.”

“Maybe I can transfer somewhere closer. Jeanist doesn’t know what to do with me half the time anyways.”

Anxiety pools in Izuku’s stomach again. “Kacchan, you don’t have to do all that. I don’t want you to quit your job just because of this. Because of me”

“Don’t worry about it like that,” Katsuki says, dropping to press another soft, gentle kiss to Izuku’s twisting mouth. “A change would be good, I think. Jeanist has taught me a lot, been good to me, but I could stand to expand a bit. I’ll look into it, but let me deal with that.”

“Okay,” Izuku says, smiling hesitantly. “If you’re sure.”

“Fuck yeah, I’m sure,” Katsuki says with a smirk. “We’re gonna get a giant bed.”

“Heated floors.”

“A balcony.”

"A kotatsu."

"A huge fridge."

“A cat!”

Katsuki snorts. “Sure, let's get a cat.”

Izuku grins happily, letting Katsuki shower him with kisses, holding each other close on Katsuki’s too short couch in his too small apartment. He’s always loved it here, but he thinks he could love any place that Katsuki is in.

Chapter Text

Eighteen

“There he is!” Mitsuki’s voice greets him, waving from the curbside where her van has been pulled over and parked, flashers blinking sleepily in the hot summer sun. “Izuku-kun, it’s been so long!” she says when Izuku stops in front of her, her hand coming down hard in a friendly pat on his shoulder. “So sweet of you to come help the two of us out today, since our heavy-lifter is stuck at work.”

“I’m telling you, you old hag, I can do it on my own!” Katsuki snarls behind an armful of boxes. “You didn’t have to guilt Deku into it!”

Izuku throws his arms up placatingly when Mitsuki opens her mouth to yell. “It’s fine really!” he says, voice a whole octave above his usual tone. Katsuki grimaces at him. “I-I’m happy to help?”

“That’s great! Here, let Katsuki take those up and you can help us with this dresser,” Mitsuki says brightly.

“I can get it myself—”

“No, it’s okay,” Izuku interrupts, lifting the dresser easily onto this shoulder. It’s a little unwieldy, but Izuku’s lifted bigger and heavier since middle school without his quirk. He gives Mitsuki a grin. “It’s not heavy. I’m stronger than I look,” he says, turning to share a smile with Katsuki.

The boxes in Katsuki’s hands tumble to the ground with a crash. Katsuki flinches, meeting Izuku’s gaze with a wide-eyed, surprised scowl.

“Are… you okay, Kacchan?” Izuku says, concerned.

Mitsuki snorts, rolling her eyes. “Don’t worry about butter fingers there, Izuku-kun,” she says, smirking at her son. Izuku tries not to squirm under Katsuki’s stare. “C’mon, let’s get that upstairs. Try not to hurt yourself.”

Izuku nods, following her and pausing at the bottom of the stairs to glance over his shoulder. Katsuki’s eyes shoot up to meet his, his face going red in what Izuku can only assume is embarrassment. “I could have helped you, nerd!” he snaps, and bends down to pick up the boxes. Izuku hums in agreement, before following Mitsuki up towards the apartment. He can hear Katsuki stomping up the steps behind him. Leading him into Katsuki’s new studio apartment, Mitsuki points him towards the walk in closet where Izuku deposits the dresser and slides it towards the back of the space. Katsuki dumps the boxes on the bare mattress before retreating back out, heading for the moving van.

“That boy, I swear,” Mitsuki sighs, before turning to Izuku with a teasing grin. “He yelled at me for twenty straight minutes when I mentioned that you agreed to help us out. I just don’t know why you put up with him, Izuku-kun. You're too good for him.”

Flushing hotly, Izuku splutters, “K-Kacchan is a very close friend, and he wouldn’t ask for help and when mom mentioned it I told her to let you know that'd I'd be happy to! Besides, it would be bad for his new job if he was hurting from moving everything alone, and he's starting classes soon so—”

“Izuku-kun!” Mitsuki gasps, cackling. “I’m teasing you! Don’t be so uptight with your auntie, I used to change your diapers.”

“What the fuck are you teasing him about?” Katsuki hisses as he enters again with another arm full of boxes. He lets Izuku take them from him to place in a corner out of the way. “I thought you were going to help me move, not make fun of shitty Deku. Get to work lazy hag.”

“Oh, so protective,” Mitsuki sneers, flicking Katsuki hard between the eyes when he rounds on her. “Alright boys, let’s get this done!”

It takes upwards to three hours to lug everything up the stairs and unbox Katsuki’s belongings. Several times, Katsuki has shooed both Izuku and Mitsuki away from his clothes, flushing heatedly when he caught Izuku putting away his socks in a drawer. Instead, he lets them rearrange the little room five different ways until Mitsuki is finally satisfied. By the time afternoon sun finally sets, everything is out of their moving boxes and in their place. Both Katsuki and Izuku collapse on the short, little sofa inherited from Masaru’s old office, sweaty and exhausted. Mitsuki works at a brutal pace.

She straightens a few things on Katsuki’s shelf, before putting her hands on her hips and surveying the room proudly. “Not bad kiddo,” she says, ruffling her son’s hair. “I thought it was going to be too small, but it looks good.”

“It really does, Kacchan,” Izuku agrees, wiping the sweat from his face with a sleeve.

He watches Katsuki try to hide hide a pleased smirk by dragging his hands across his lips. “Of course it fucking does, it’s mine isn’t it?”

Izuku laughs, nudging him with an elbow. “I guess that’s true, but you don’t have to be so smug about it. My place is still all boxes and unfinished furniture.”

Katsuki smacks him lightly. “Don’t be lazy, nerd. I’ll come help you put it together tomorrow. You still free?”

“Yes! Really? Are you sure? Thank you so much, Kacchan!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Katsuki says, turning away from where Izuku leans towards him. “You’re welcome and thank you, I guess, for helping me out today, or whatever,” he grumbles. 

A loud thump turns their heads towards Mitsuki, who is gaping at them, one Katsuki’s textbooks at her feet. “Whoops!” she says, her voice a little too bright, matching the maniacal grin spreading across her face. Izuku eyes her watchfully as she bends down to pick it up, never taking her eyes off of them. “Well, now that everything is done, I’ll be leaving! Katsuki, you should treat Izuku to dinner for helping out!”

“I was already planning on it?” Katsuki says, glaring warily at his mother and getting up from his seat to see her out.

“Good! That’s great!” she says, still grinning. Mitsuki pulls some cash out of her purse, pushing it into Katsuki’s hand. “Here’s some money, so get something good okay!”

“Suuure,” Katsuki agrees.

“Don’t fuck it up,” Mitsuki add so lowly that Izuku barely catches it.

“Holy fuck, please just leave you nosy hag!” Katsuki snaps, shoving her out the door and slamming it behind her. Both of them can hear her cackling down the hall.

“What,” Izuku starts uneasily, “was that all about?”

Katsuki heaves a long, heavy sigh, pulling his phone out to order takeaway. “Honestly,” he says, turning around and meeting Izuku eye with an expression of deep turmoil. “I have no fucking idea.”

Chapter Text

Seventeen

Kacchan 23:46 – and that idiot kirishima won’t leave me alone about it

Izuku chuckles, rolling over in his bed to tap a reply into his phone. His childhood room feels impossibly small lately, his bed even smaller, his feet closer to the end than he’s used to. All Might still smiles proudly down at him from the few posters still on his wall, but after nearly a year in the dorms and one intervention that ended with his room redecorated, they only make him feel a little nostalgic. But it’s good to be home for a while during the holiday, spending some much needed time with his mother, back in his old neighborhood where everyone knows his name.

Me 23:46 – It still makes me happy you and Kirishima get along so well.

Me 23:46 – You’re both such good friends.

Kacchan 23:47 – take that back

Kacchan 23:47 – he’s way too buddy buddy

Me 23:47 – I am jealous though, that Kacchan has a new best friend.

Kacchan 23:47 – i’ll crush him

Kacchan 23:47 – WHAT

Kacchan 23:47 – THAT BASTARDS NOT MY SHITTY BEST FRIEND

Me 23:47 – Keep telling yourself that!

Kacchan 23:48 – asshole

Me 23:48 – Aw, don’t be mad.

Kacchan 23:48 – shut it

Kacchan 23:48 – wanna talk?

Rolling over again, Izuku can’t help but smile in the near darkness of his bedroom, his cheeks hurting a little from the stretch. His stomach turns pleasantly, and he can’t be still.

Me 23:49 – We are talking though??

Kacchan 23:49 – YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN NERD

Not two seconds after he receives the message, does his phone vibrate with the incoming call. Izuku rolls again, unable to contain the nervous, excited energy crawling along his skin, and answers.

“Kacchaaan,” he sings quietly into the receiver. “You shouldn’t call people so late at night.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have answered then!” Katsuki whisper-yells back, huffing when Izuku dissolves into a fit of giggles. “Shut up, already. I’m just bored.”

Izuku hums. “What do you want to talk about then?”

“Dunno,” Katsuki says noncommittally back. There’s some shifting, the whisper of fabric moving, and Izuku imagines Katsuki already in his pajamas and in bed, murmuring to Izuku in the darkness of his childhood room, just the same as Izuku. He hasn’t been there since he was four, and he wonders what’s changed, the bedspread, the posters on the wall, the comics on the shelves.

“Deku, are you even listening?” Katsuki’s voice interrupts his thoughts. “Did you fall asleep you shitty nerd?”

“Sorry, no, I was just thinking,” Izuku whispers back.

Katsuki hums, like he’s irritated but Izuku can tell he’s not, drawing the sound out in Izuku’s ear. “What’s so important that you have to think about when you’re talking to me, huh?” he grumbles.

It must be the darkness and the quiet of the apartment, his mom long in bed, that makes Izuku brave enough to say, “I was thinking about you.”

Silence descends between them, so Izuku waits. Nothing comes out of the speaker for a long moment, just the static sound of Katsuki’s soft breathing. Izuku puts the phone on the pillow beside him, his ear laid just beside and waits, face flushed and hidden in his hands. At times, Katsuki’s a bit guarded when it comes to Izuku’s attention. Say the wrong thing, and he’s gone, sometimes blustering and blushing and sometimes with his head ducked low and silent as he retreats. The year and a handful of months together at U.A. has soften the jagged edges of their connection, to a point where it almost resembles friendship. But that doesn't stop the sudden stilted awkwardness that presses down on them, when Izuku gets a little too close or Katsuki becomes a little too casual. 

“You’re really embarrassing,” Katsuki whispers, finally, breaking the silence.

A slow smile grows on Izuku’s face, wide and toothy. “Maybe so,” he whispers back, and he wonders if Katsuki can hear the happiness in his voice. “I guess you’ll have to live with it.”

Katsuki pauses, and huffs. “I guess so,” he says. Izuku imagines him with a smile, soft and pleased. As foreign as the idea is, Izuku really wants to see him smile that way. “What are you doing?”

“Talking to you, aren’t I?”

“Smartass. Is your mom asleep?”

Izuku’s brows crinkle together. “Yes?”

Katsuki pauses again, before he continues, a little timidly. “Come outside.”

His bed creaks ominously as Izuku shoots up, sitting rigid amongst his strewn covers. “Outside?” He glances at the clock, its numbers telling him that it’s well after midnight now. “Why are you outside?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Katsuki hisses, defensive. “So I went for a walk.”

“Kacchan, it’s dangerous—”

“—to go out so late, yeah yeah,” Katuski says in a mocking voice. “Save your stupid lecture for someone who cares. Are you coming out or not?”

Izuku purses his lips, thinking hard, but all he can hear is Katsuki’s hesitant impatience urging him to break what suddenly feels like a small, insignificant rule. “Okay,” he says. “And here I thought you were at home this whole time. Give me a second to put on some clothes.”

“I’ll wait,” Katsuki says quietly, and Izuku’s chest bursts with a sudden heat, warming him from the inside out. “See you in a second.”

“Yeah,” Izuku replies as Katsuki hangs up, breathless and filled with the urgent need to move . He pulls a sweater over his tee and slips on a pair of socks, before he exits his bedroom as quietly as possible. Every sound seems to echo in the darkened apartment, but Izuku creeps towards the front door, stepping into his shoes with just his phone and keys in the pocket of his pajama pants. When Inko doesn’t worriedly burst into the hallway as Izuku eases the door shut and locks it behind him, he beats a hasty escape down the stairwell.

Katsuki is just where he said he’d be, waiting at the bottom stair. He’s bundled up against the chilly autumn night, his scarf pulled up around his ears. When Izuku stops beside him, the corner of Katsuki’s mouth quirks up, and he motions to the road.

“Wanna go for a walk?” he says, shoving his hands deep into his pockets, but his eyes are intent on Izuku’s face, leaning in.

“Yes!” Izuku says, just a little too loudly for the late hour and the proximity of his sleeping neighbors. “Yes,” he breathes a little quieter, flushing hotly when Katsuki smirks down at him. “Let’s go for a walk.”

Katsuki says nothing, but waits for Izuku to fall into step beside him as they set off along the golden lit streets, their arms brushing and Izuku’s heart beating wild in his chest.

Chapter Text

Twenty-One

Katsuki doesn’t quite know what to do, but stare. The sidekicks in Best Jeanist’s agency are crowded around his desk, sending him gleeful looks and snickering behind their hands. Katsuki feels the vein in his temple throb. The over large bouquet, made of bright oranges and reds and yellows, stands out against the muted, cool colors of the office space. Jeanist likes to keep the building decorated nice and sedate, in deep blues and grays. The huge spark of color sitting pretty atop Katsuki’s desk draws the eye like a flame in the dark.

“Oooh? What’s this?” Flinching, Katsuki turns with a reluctant scowl as Best Jeanist breezes by. “Do you have a fan, Bakugou?” he asks airly, stooping to read the card attached to the vase.

With a grumble, Katsuki mechanically follows him, white hot embarrassment burning on his face. It’s not often that he gets gifts like this, as he usually takes the night shifts and keeps as far away from the press as he can. A few stray fan letters come in the mail every few days, sometimes attached to a well meaning package or present. But a whole bouquet, especially one so obviously expensive, is a surprise. The colors almost look mocking.

Jeanist straightens, turning to Katsuki with a satisfied gleam in his eye. “From your number one fan,” he says. “Deku.”

That stops Katsuki short, surprised despite himself. He reaches out to read the note, running his thumb over what is unmistakably Izuku’s loopy scrawl. Something pleasant bubbles in his stomach, fluttering in his chest and snuffing out the the awful burn of humiliation.

“I’m very proud,” Jeanist says lowly, only for Katsuki’s ear. “That my brutish, angry little intern from so many years ago has such a happy life now. Though it does make me feel a little lonely.”

Katsuki flushes and scowls at his employer. “Find your own shitty boyfriend then, old man!” he shouts, setting off an explosion in his palm that’s more smoke than heat. The sidekicks scatter, still laughing at his expense, and Best Jeanist just hums softly, amused and patting Katsuki head as he passes. Grumbling, Katsuki gathers up his phone and shoulder bag before heading out the door, the vase of flowers under his arm.

At home, he places it on his counter, adding a little more water for the stems. Idly, he runs his fingers gently across the soft, velvety petals, pulling a large yellow lily from the mixture.

“Stupid Deku,” he murmurs to himself, unable to resist smile that creeps across his face and moving back towards the door.

Izuku is already in his pajamas when he opens his apartment door, surprised and grinning. “Kacchan!” he gasps when Katsuki grabs him up, feet leaving the ground and head ducked so as not to collide with the low ceiling. Katsuki kisses him breathless, holding tight before he finally sets Izuku back down.

“What was that for?” Izuku breathes, his arms still around Katsuki’s shoulders as he slips out of his shoes and into Izuku’s apartment.

Katsuki tucks the lily behind Izuku’s ear, the warm yellow bright in the sea of Izuku’s dark curls. “Just thought I’d come pay my biggest fan a visit,” he says, fingers gliding along the back of Izuku’s neck. “And thank him for the flowers.” He presses another warm kiss to Izuku’s already kiss-bruised lips.

He watches with interest as Izuku turns a very bright, vivid red. “I-I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he lies, badly.

“You signed it, Deku,” Katsuki says, smirking with brows raised and pulling out the little gift card. “Also, I’d recognized your awful handwriting anywhere.”

“Kaaacchan,” Izuku whines, hiding his face in his hands as his ears begin to turn pink to match his face. His forehead thumps against Katsuki’s chest, muffling the resulting stream of babbling. Katsuki catches “It was supposed to be a surprise,” and huffs a laugh into the top of Izuku’s head.

“It was, stupid,” he says. Izuku tilts his head up, looking incredibly embarrassed. “A surprise, I mean. I liked it.”

That’s enough to bring back Izuku's wide smile, still bashful. “Did you really?”

“Yep.”

“Not too cheesy?”

“Nope.”

“Are you positive?”

“Yes.”

“I just wasn’t sure if you’d like something like that so I—”

“Izuku.” Izuku’s mouth shuts with a click of his teeth. Katsuki has to look away from Izuku’s big eyes, earnest and uncertain in equal measures. “You don’t— You don’t have to worry so much about all that,” he grumbles. “If I’ll like or not, or whatever. If it’s you, I’ll like it.”

Izuku smile goes from shy to sly in an instant, and Katsuki regrets everything immediately. “Oh, is that so?” he murmurs, pulling Katsuki closer. “You’ll like anything then, if I give it to you?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says grudgingly, eyes still looking anywhere but Izuku’s smirking face. “I said it, didn’t I?”

“Well, you know, I was thinking and, if you like stuff like that so much, especially with me, we could always do matching couple outfits,” he teases gleefully, chuckling at Katsuki's scowl.

“Don’t push it.”

Laughing, Izuku pulls him to the couch where he had been reading his book while the television played in the background. “I’m glad you liked them,” he says as Katsuki drapes himself over Izuku’s shoulders. “The florist thought the colors were going to be hideous, but it worked out in the end.

Katsuki hums, curling close against Izuku’s back. “Yeah, it looked nice,” he says, feeling content. “What’s the occasion anyways?”

“Just because,” Izuku says quietly, pressing a kiss to the side of Katsuki’s face where he’s resting his chin on Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku shifts and pulls a blanket over their laps, settling into Katsuki’s hold. Katsuki hums again, already drifting off as the day catches up with him. Izuku will let him nap there for a bit before he guides him to bed, already used Katsuki’s routine after a long shift. But for now, Katsuki basks in Izuku’s warmth and the feel of Izuku's strong back pressed against his chest, their fingers laced together and holding on tightly.

Chapter Text

Three

“Izuuukuuu!” comes a loud, long call from across the playground. Izuku looks up from his crooked sandbox castle and tiny dug-out moat to see Katsuki barreling towards him, tugging heavily on Auntie Mitsuki’s hand where she’s stubbornly holding him back. “Today we’re going to play heroes!” Katsuki yells as he approaches, a little red-faced and puffing from pulling her along.

Jumping up to meet him, Izuku bounces on the spot. “Okay, Kacchan!” he says excitedly, before remembering his manners and looking up at Mitsuki. “Hello, Auntie! I hope you’re well!”

“Hello, Izu-chan,” Mitsuki says with a harried grin. She looks frazzled where usually she’s very cheerful and boisterous like her son. Izuku knows sometimes her job is really stressful from the way Katsuki complains that she’s always busy. “Is your mom around, or are you by yourself today?”

“She’s over there,” he says, pointing to where Inko is waving from a nearby bench. Inko never lets Izuku come to the park alone.

“Oh, good,” she sighs happily, her shoulders slumping with relief. “Finally someone without a penis.”

Izuku stifles a laugh at that. Mitsuki always complains that there’s too many men in her house, especially when Izuku and a few boys from their class sleepover. Katsuki pokes at her side. “Go away, mom. Me and Izuku are going to play,” he says with a fierce scowl. Izuku stands quietly beside him, shifting uncertainly as Katsuki shoos his mother off.

Mitsuki rolls her eyes good naturtedly though, smacking Katsuki lightly on the head and ruffling Izuku’s curls as she passes them by. “Good luck, keeping up with him Izu-chan,” she says with a tired wave. “I know I sure can’t!”

“Okay, Auntie!” Izuku says to her, waving as Katsuki drags him back towards the sandbox. “No one else is around,” he tells his friend, feeling a little bashful that it’s just him and Katsuki today. “So we’ll have to play heroes by ourselves.”

“That’s fine, but we can do that later. Look at this,” Katsuki says, holding his hands out. In his palms sit five little silver coins, smudged with Katsuki’s fingerprints. “It 500 yen,” he whispers quietly. “Dad gave it to me for helping him clean out the garage. I climbed the ladder and everything.”

“Cool!” Izuku looks down in awe. He’s never had that much spending money in his life. “What are you going to do with it?”

Katsuki thinks for a moment, before he looks at Izuku with a wide, mischievous grin. “Wanna go get some ice cream?”

“Yes!” Izuku gasps. Usually Izuku has to wait until the end of the week for a visit to the ice cream shop, but today is hot and muggy, and he hasn’t had any sweets since breakfast. “I’ll go ask Mama!”

“No wait!” Katsuki grabs him and pulls him back. “I’ll buy it okay, so don’t go tell them.”

Izuku shifts uncomfortably, digging his toes in the dirt. “Mama said not to take money from people. Or to go anywhere without her, or someone I trust.”

Katsuki gives him a deeply affronted look. “You don’t trust me?!”

“Of course!” Izuku hastens to say. “I always trust Kacchan!”

“Oh, okay.” Katsuki says easily. “So it should be fine then, right? Mom let me go to the store all by myself to get her apples once. And that was waaay further than the ice cream place. So, you’ll be perfectly safe with me!”

Izuku hesitates for a little longer, until Katsuki offers his hand and drags him away. Neither of them notice both of their mothers watching them closely as they walk away. Izuku nervously fidgets with the hem of his shirt, but Katsuki hasn’t let go of his hand, warm and comforting, and very sweaty, against his palm.

“Look both ways!” Katsuki announces when the reach the crosswalk. The street beside the park is never very busy, but they both wait, looking back and forth with heavy scrutiny before they scurry across the road to the ice cream shop right in front of them. With no hesitation or fear, Katsuki reaches up to press the button on the entryway and the glass door slides with a quick whoosh, the cool air of the shop billowing out on them, cool on their sweaty faces.

Together, they advance upon the counter with all the confidence little Katsuki has, Izuku trailing behind awkwardly. The clerk, with dark hair and even darker eyes, smiles cheerfully at their approach, leaning over to speak to them.

“Welcome!” she says brightly, her face friendly and round like Izuku’s mom’s. “How can I help you?”

Katsuki slides all five of his coins onto the counter. “I want the rainbow ice cream and Izuku wants strawberry,” he shouts at her.

“Please!” Izuku pipes up, when Katsuki doesn’t, elbowing him in the side.

“Yeah, please, whatever!”

The clerk isn’t fazed at all, turning to her co-worker with the order who giggles as she scoops out their treats. “Here’s your change,” she says, handing Katsuki back a few stray yen. She then wraps both their cones with several napkins before handing those over as well. “Please come again! Be careful crossing the street!”

“I know!” Katsuki says, tugging Izuku along, their hands still clasped tightly between them.

They scurry back out the door and carefully scrutinize the road again before hurrying across and towards the playground. Inko and Mitsuki haven’t moved an inch and wave at them when they sit down under a nearby tree to enjoy their ice cream cones. Izuku waves hastily back when Katsuki finally drops his hand, forgetting to feel guilty for disobeying his mother’s rule when she doesn’t reprimand him.

“See,” Katsuki says, his chest puffed out and his mouth already covered in rainbow colors. “Told you it would be fine. Izuku is always safe with me.”

“Yeah,” Izuku agrees. He happily eats away at his ice cream, catching the pink, melty drips with his fingers and wiping it away on his shirt. “I guess you’re right.”

Chapter Text

Sixteen

It’s the first week of Izuku’s second school year at U.A. and he’s determined to remain accident free as much as possible, under threat of Recovery Girl. She had told him that under no circumstance was he allowed any reckless bone breaking unless there was absolutely no other choice to save lives. Izuku’s sure that, with his track record, it’s a real possibility, but he’s resolved to keep the injuries to a minimum this year.

And so far, despite Aizawa’s rigorous welcome-back endurance test and All Might’s newfound sadistic streak (he’s had Izuku running suicide exercises every morning over the break, and has changed over to painful speed training that involves Snipe and a paintball gun now that they're back on school grounds), he’s managed to keep that promise.

He hasn’t broken any school property besides the training dummies that the teachers actively encourage them to demolish. Izuku hasn’t so much as dropped his school bag or tripped over anything.

That’s why, after he bumps into Monoma and his lunch tray goes flying out of his hands and into the back of Katsuki’s head, Izuku mourns his new record of staying out of trouble.

Everyone at Katsuki’s table freezes. The lunchroom goes silent. Katsuki might as well have been a statue — a very noodle-ly, rice-y statue. Izuku is rooted to the spot, like a startled dear waiting to be blasted through the roof, faintly glad that he had at least followed Todoroki’s lead and went for cold soba instead of a warmer meal.

For a long moment, there is absolutely no sound, until Izuku’s tray finally slides down Katsuki’s back and hits the floor. The sudden crack of plastic on concrete has Katsuki spinning around his seat, eyes firey with rage.

“Kacchan!” Izuku shrieks bracing himself for the explosion, arms covering his face. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!”

The explosion never comes. Izuku peeks between his hands to see Katsuki glaring, not at him, but at Monoma’s back as he walks placidly away, as if unaware that the entire school has frozen in place. Only Kendou breaks the stillness, and, with a quick, apologetic bow towards them, she follows after Monoma’s now suddenly quickened retreat.

“I-It was an accident,” Izuku says miserably, eyes back on Katsuki’s deflated shoulders, covered in noodles and rice.

Katsuki glances at him before shrugging with a heavy finality. The lunchroom seems to breathe a sigh of relief, everyone going back to their own lunches and ignoring Katsuki’s irritated shout of, “What are you bastards even looking at, hun?!”

“I am really, really sorry,” Izuku tries again, hands waving hesitantly in front of him, wanting to help but not encroach on Katsuki’s space. Kaminari and Sero are actively trying to stifle their laughter, but Kirishima and Ashido are laser-focused on Katsuki.

Sneering at them, Katsuki stomps his way toward the bathroom, noodles in his hair swaying and Izuku trailing just behind him, still stammering out apologies.

“I-I can run back to the dorms and get you a new uniform,” Izuku says, wringing his hands as Katsuki kicks open the bathroom door. “Of course, it would make more sense for you to go back yourself since you probably won’t fit in mine and I don’t have—”

“You calling me fat, Deku?” Katsuki says flatly. He drags his fingers through his hair and drops a handful of noodles in the trash.

“No!”  Izuku squeaks. “You’re just taller! Definitely not fat, not that it would matter anyways! There’s all kinds of body types and no one should be ashamed of their's, especially you! So even if you were fat, that shouldn’t matter to anyone since—”

“Deku,” Katsuki snaps, and Izuku shuts his mouth with an audible click. Taking a long, deep breath, Katsuki meets his eyes without a glare or a scowl. When he speaks, his voice is drawn out and quieter than Izuku is used to, as close to gentle as Izuku has ever heard. “It’s fine. I know you didn’t mean to. So, please stop mumbling, you’re giving me a headache.”

“O-Okay,” Izuku says, still wringing his hands together in front of him. He stays as Katsuki shrugs out of his uniform jacket, wiping off the food as best as he can before abandoning it into Izuku’s waiting arms. He watches Katsuki as he wets his handkerchief to wipe the back of his neck and face clean again. Without his jacket, Izuku can barely tell that he had dumped food all over Katsuki in the first place, except…

“U-Um,” Izuku starts, hesitating again when Katsuki’s eyes fall on him again. “You missed…” He reaches out, and Katsuki lets him, tilting his head down as Izuku pulls one last noodle from the back of his head, dropping it in the trash with the rest.

Without really meaning to, his eyes meet Katsuki’s, their faces closer than Izuku had realized and their gaze held for the space of breath before Izuku flushes hotly and backs away.

Katsuki usually makes Izuku nervous, now more awkward than unpleasant in the past year or so. There’s too much between them that they let go unsaid and unresolved, putting Izuku adrift in what exactly they are to each other: friends, or rivals, or just classmates. None of those labels feel quite right, but Izuku always lets it lie, another extraordinary phenomenon of his life that’s yet to be solved.

“Thanks,” Katsuki says, quietly, and Izuku’s head jerks up in shock. Katsuki’s eyes, usually sharp and burning, are impossibly soft as they look down at Izuku, a genuine little smile quirking up the corner of his mouth.

Izuku gapes at him, for probably a weird amount of time, before he has to look away again, his face burning. “No problem,” he manages to say, staring wide-eyed at the floor.

Katsuki takes back the dirtied jacket, their hands just barely brushing, and heads for the door. Izuku takes a stuttering breath, trying to calm the sudden squirming in his stomach. He runs a hand through his hair, and startles when Katsuki speaks up behind him.

“You coming, Deku?” he says loudly enough, his usual rough attitude seeping back into his voice, still holding the door open but not looking at Izuku when he spins on the spot towards him.  

Izuku stares, feeling the smile spread slow across his face. “Y-Yeah!” he replies, following Katsuki out the door.

Chapter Text

Seventeen and Sixteen

Izuku pauses for a moment, a half eaten skewer of beef hovering half-forgotten in his hand, to think of exactly how he got to this spot, sitting in a tiny restaurant booth in the middle of a nice, late spring afternoon with Katsuki squished against his side and Ashido leaning bodily over Izuku to grab another fried tofu stick.

Since classes have started back, Kirishima has been stopping by his dorm to ask Izuku if he’d like to join their group, whether for just a study session or a movie. If Uraraka and Iida are with him, they’re invited, too. And if it’s not Kirishima inviting them, it’s Sero, or it’s Ashido, or it’s Kaminari. On one memorable occasion, it was Tokoyami knocking politely on his door, and they all went to a metal concert six train stations away. Uraraka still wears the too large band t shirt that Katsuki and Izuku had chipped in to buy her as a present.

The only time Katsuki had asked Izuku to join his friends, they wound up completely alone watching a painfully romantic period movie, riddled with so many historical inaccuracies that Katsuki had exploded the popcorn bucket, or so he says later when they’re being ushered from the theatre.

He doesn’t bother asking Izuku to come with them after that, but the invitations never stop and Katsuki never seems particularly upset by it. Izuku thinks that Katsuki may even prefer—

“Deku-kun, it’s gonna get cold!” Ashido teases, right next to his face. Izuku flinches out of his thoughts and takes another bite of the skewer after giving her a bashful smile. She laughs, clapping him hard on the back, and Izuku nearly chokes on his bite. “You’re really out of it today!”

“U-Um,” Izuku stutters, flushing and laughing nervously. “I guess so?”

“Relax,” she says, her voice lowered so only Izuku can hear her, winking at him. “We got your back!”

“Thanks?” Izuku says uncertainty. “I think?”

Katsuki interrupts him with an elbow bumping into Izuku’s, pulling Izuku’s attention easily away, his dark eyes focused on Izuku. “Try some,” he says, waving a stick of fried kushiage in his face. It’s already been dipped in sauce, and there’s a sprinkle of spices on the side presented to him.

Izuku eyes him suspiciously as he accepts the skewer. “How hot is it? You’re not trying to kill me are you?”

The offended scowl Katsuki gives sends Izuku into giggles, before he takes a bite, his teeth sinking through the fried batter and warm cheese. It’s sweet, only a little spicy, and absolutely delicious.

“Good right?” Katsuki says with a smug smirk when Izuku hums happily around his mouthful. “Don’t question me again, nerd.”

Izuku snorts and rolls his eyes. “I’ve been on the receiving end of your spicy food experiments for years, Kacchan. Plus, you’ve poisoned Kirishima way too many times.”

“I’m trying to toughen him up!”

“I didn’t puke last time!” Kirishima says, proudly. “Did Bakugou like spicy food when you two were little then?”

“One time he poured half a bottle of hot sauce in my cup ramen and made me eat it. I still can’t eat that particular brand.”

“It wasn’t that hot! You didn’t have to cry so much about it either!”

“I was five, Kacchan!”

Katsuki crosses his arms and shrugs. “I bought you another, didn’t I?” he says with a fierce pout, glaring down at his plate as their table bursts into laughter.

Shaking his head fondly, Izuku nudges him gently, smiling when Katsuki’s eyes cut to him. “You did,” he says gently, and Katsuki’s shoulders relax. “Thanks, Kacchan.” He turns back to Ashido beside him who asks for more embarrassing childhood stories, and misses the way the tips of Katsuki’s ears turn red.

They leave the restaurant in a boisterous pack, Izuku trailing behind with Sero. They laugh when Katsuki is tackled by their friends with an over-affection hug in return for Katsuki picking up the tab, Ashido and Kaminari praising him slyly for being such a gentleman. Katsuki manages to throw them off, discreetly falling back to hide behind Izuku once he’s free of them.

Slowly making their way back towards campus, they lose Ashido to an invitation to go shopping with the other class 2A girls. Sero disappears soon after into a dark, eclectic shop that smells so strongly of incense that no one else is willing to follow him in. A few blocks from the train station, Kaminari announces suddenly that he forgot his phone at the restaurant.

“Oh, well I’m sure they put it behind the counter for you,” Izuku says, surprised. He never sees Kaminari without his phone nearby. “Let’s just go back and—”

“No need, Midoriya, my man!” Kirishima says, throwing an arm around Kaminari’s shoulders. “I’ll walk with him, you and Bakugou can go on back.”

Katsuki scowls at him, but says nothing, so Izuku shrugs and agrees. The two of them turn away, Kirishima bodily dragging Kaminari and waving enthusiastically over their shoulders, going in the wrong direction.

“Idiots,” Katsuki sighs. Izuku catches his eyes, but Katsuki turns away quickly towards the station, flushing. “Let’s go, I guess.”

Izuku’s brows furrow a bit, feeling a little uneasy, but follows along anyways. They get their tickets and head down to their platform, busy with the weekend shoppers and tourists.

“Kacchan,” he starts, hesitantly, as they wait for their train. “Is… something going on?”

“What do you mean?” Katsuki says, distracted by his phone and tapping out a text.

“Well… I really like coming out to hang out with you all, but it seems like they always disappear right in the middle,” Izuku shrugs, looking thoughtfully across the crowd as he talks. “It feels kind of like they’re trying to be sneaky about something, but I can’t figure out what.”

“Nothing!” Izuku turns back to Katsuki with raised brows when he snaps so suddenly. Katsuki’s eyes are wide, livid, and a little panicked, knuckles white around his phone. “They’re just being idiots!”

“O-Oh,” Izuku stutters. “Okay then? If you’re sure?”

“Yep!” Katsuki’s voice raises to something a little like a shriek, and now Izuku is deeply worried. “Just a bunch of fucking idiots, no reason to think they’re doing anything at all!”

Izuku nods, swallowing, both of them awkwardly face forward again. “Okay then,” he agrees, even though he definitely doesn’t now. But, he tries to relax the sudden nervous tension filling his tension. “I just thought that, even though they’ve been inviting me out with all of you so much, they might not actually want to hang out?” he admits, peeking a look out of the corner of his eye at Katsuki.

This time, Katsuki is gaping at him.

“Not that it matters!” Izuku says quickly. “I mean, I really like hanging out with all of you a lot, but I don’t want them to force themselves—”

“Deku,” Katsuki says lowly and Izuku shuts up. Katsuki glares at him, but at the same time, he doesn’t really seem angry. “That’s definitely not what’s going on. Not that anything is going on!” he adds when Izuku looks at him imploringly. He turns back towards the front, their train arriving with a gust of wind. “They always bug me about inviting you out, it’s so annoying. I don’t know when I suddenly became in charge of who else they rope in to their damn plans. So don’t worry about crap lik that, okay? Trust me.”

Izuku nods, already smiling, relief settling in the pit of his stomach. “Okay,” he says, following Katsuki into the train car. They stand nearby in the crowded aisle, turned slightly towards each other and gripping the same pole. The doors close with a snap and the train gently lurches in motion.

Katsuki steps a little closer as everyone shifts, flushing when Izuku looks up into his face with a bright smile. “Thanks, Kacchan,” he whispers, grinning when Katsuki’s face flushes a deep red.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Three

Izuku steps out of the convenience store laden with bags and shivering in the early morning air. At four a.m., their long day is starting off chilly and damp, despite the approaching summer sun on the horizon. He takes a deep breath of the cool morning and sets out towards the two parked cars on the edge of the lot, where Katsuki and Shouto are sniping at each other back and forth over their phones.

“This way’s faster you dense fu—”

“I got the snacks!” Izuku announces loudly over Katsuki’s grumbling.

“Oooh, thanks Deku-kun!” Ochako crows as his friends descend upon him, fishing their preferred snacks from the bags on Izuku’s outstretched arms. Shouto abandons Katsuki to sneer down at the gps map alone to save his breakfast sandwich from Denki.

“Thanks Izuku-kun,” he says politely. “But your boyfriend is being stubborn again.”

“He’s usually like that,” Izuku laughs goodnaturedly, turning towards Katsuki to look at the directions with him. Katsuki pinches his side in retaliation, but tilts the map on his screen towards Izuku regardless. They bicker lowly over the mapping of roads, heads bent low over Katsuki’s phone.

It’s a bit like bargaining with an old man , Izuku thinks as he shows Katsuki a faster route along the expressway that stretches down the coast. An old man that would rather to take winding back roads across two prefectures just to get to a beach, the jerk.

“Fine,” Katsuki eventually snaps. “Kirishima can take the expressway and we’ll go my way. We'll see who gets there first!”

“Finally! We call Deku!” Mina squeals, wrapping an arm around Izuku’s neck and dragging him towards the group waiting by Eijiro’s car. The three of them cheer over Izuku’s stuttering, but it can’t drown out Katsuki’s indignant shouting.

“What?!” he roars, stalking forward. Mina and Denki immediately cling to Izuku’s side, Denki shoving Eijiro forward like a human shield. “Deku’s riding with me!”

“Come on man,” Eijiro says, hands in front of him in defense as he dodges Bakugou’s grabby hands for Izuku, who’s supporting both Denki and Mina where they’ve dropped like leaden weights on his arms, trying to hold him in place. “Sero had to bail, so I need someone to help me navigate. Plus your car has an extra now, and Iida doesn’t like my tunes.”

Tenya bows deeply, arm chopping viciously through the air. “I am sorry for joining so late, and causing problems for you all!” he shouts towards the ground.

Tsuyu pats him placatingly on the shoulder. “We’re happy to have you Tenya-chan,” she says, her voice a little more raspy and croaky than usual so early in the morning. “Momo-chan did say it was an open invitation, and to come if you can.”

Katsuki snarls, ignoring them. “Just follow me then, shitty hair!” he howls. Izuku rolls his eyes, hearing clearly the petulant whine in Katsuki’s voice. “Why do you need someone to look a map for you?!”

“Dude, you’re a super safe driver, but you leave everyone in the dust!” Eijiro says. “Especially if you’re going to take the mountain roads!”

“Take Todoroki then!”

Shouto’s head pops out of the back of Katsuki’s car. “I get car sick if I’m reading while riding,” he says, nonchalantly. “I won’t be able to help with the map."

Katsuki glares at Denki and Mina, who both grin back with the biggest, dorkiest smiles they can muster. “Neither of you can be trusted,” he hisses. They both nod in agreement, giggling. Fuming, Katsuki grits his teeth when he runs out of reasons to keep Izuku in his car.

“It’ll be fine,” Izuku says, stepping around Eijiro. Denki lets out a quiet ‘whoa’ as both he and Mina swing on his arms. “You won’t miss me too much, it’s only a two hours. Or three, if going your route, I guess.”

Eyes narrowing, Katsuki stalks forward. “Is that a challenge, Deku?” Ochako, Tsuyu, and Shouto pale behind him, making frantic gestures to get Izuku to shut up.

Izuku smirks. “Only if you think you’ll lose.”

“You’re gonna regret those words,” Katsuki hisses.

“First one to Yaoyorozu’s house wins.”

“Name your terms, nerd.”

“Who ever wins gets to choose the movie tomorrow night, no arguments.” Everyone around them groans in protest, but Katsuki smirks, the edges of his mouth sharp.

“You’re on,” he says, lowly.

“I don’t want to watch another All Might documentary,” Ochako whines loudly.

“What?! You won’t be, because I’m going to win and Deku’s going to regret it!”

Ochako rolls her eyes, muttering, “As if some weird foreign slasher film would be any better.”

Katsuki huffs, turning back to Izuku with a fiery glint in his eyes. “See you when you finally make it through all that traffic, Deku,” he says with a smirk.

“Drive safely,” Izuku says, simpering. He leans forward to peck a kiss on Katsuki lips, ignoring Mina’s gagging noises, before turning to saunter away. “Are you two going to get down?” he asks, looking down at her and Denki still swinging from his biceps.

“Nope!” Mina says happily, kicking her feet.

“Dude, you guys are so cute,” Denki teases, making kissy faces at him.

Izuku tosses them into the backseat of Eijirou’s car, turning just in time for Katsuki to pull to a quick stop beside them. He rolls down the window, leaning bodily over Tenya to sneer with a ferocious grin. “Eat my dust losers!” he shouts, flipping them off.  He peels out of little parking lot, honking when Izuku flips off in return as they round the corner.

Izuku turns to Eijiro, who begins to sweat as he takes in the intense look on Izuku’s face. “Get in the car, Kirishima-kun,” Izuku says.

“S-Sure thing, man,” Eijiro says, sliding into the driver seat as Izuku buckles himself in beside him. “You’re not going to make me break any road rules right? I really don’t want to get pulled over.”

“Not to worry,” Izuku says, pulling up the list of directions. “We’ll still beat them, even if he manages to drive them off the mountain. We’re going to make Kacchan cry.”

“Dude…” Denki whispers, leaning forward over the center console to stare with wide, panicked eyes at Izuku. “You guys are terrifying. Still .”

Izuku’s grin is all teeth. “Let’s go, Kirishima-kun,” he says, Mina’s loud whoop behind him announcing their departure and assured victory.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Four

Izuku doesn’t hear the jingle of keys in the lock, nor the quiet giggling in the front hall. He’s so absorbed in his book that he doesn’t even realize that he’s not alone until Hanta stumbles and faceplants right into their couch, heedless of Izuku already sitting there in his pajamas. Izuku squawks, holding his book over his head when Hanta lands heavily on him.

“Are you okay, Sero-kun?!” he asks, shocked, heart pounding in his chest. The only reply he gets is a low  whine of despair, muffled by the couch cushion and Hanta’s straight black hair that’s fanned out around his head.

They both let out a surprised ‘oof’ when Denki piles on top of them both, laughing madly. “Hey, Midoriya, Sero’s drunk!” he crows.

“Uh, yeah,” Izuku agrees. “Did Kacchan—?”

“Deku, I’m home!” Katsuki yells over him. Izuku can hear him struggling with his shoes at the door, cursing quietly. “And I brought some idiots with me!”

“Okay,” Izuku says, wincing at Katsuki’s volume. At this rate, the neighbors are going to come banging on the door. “Please keep your voice down, Kacchan.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Katsuki stumbles into the living room, bending over to smack a wet kiss on Izuku’s head. His breath smells rank like alcohol and greasy bar food, and Izuku levels him with an unimpressed gaze, his nose scrunching up in distaste. Katsuki pokes it. “Cute.”

“Welcome back,” Izuku says belatedly, sighing. “Did you have fun?”

Katsuki doesn’t answer. Instead, he leans over the back of the couch to hug Izuku tightly, rubbing his cold nose into Izuku’s neck. Izuku squirms away, but finds himself sufficiently trapped by three drunk twenty-somethings on his living room couch. Between Hanta sprawled across his lap, Denki sitting on Hanta’s back, and Katsuki’s big arms around Izuku’s chest, Izuku is easily getting overheated.

“Maybe you all had a little too much fun. Did Kirishima-kun make it back at least?”

Still silent, Katsuki answers by fishing out his phone and handing it to him. Izuku rolls his eyes as he’s unlocking the phone, pulling up the messaging app.

Me 23:36 – Hi Kiri-kun! This is Izuku, I just wanted to make sure you made it home okay. These three are pretty drunk! ヽ(冫、)ノ

Kiri 23:36 – My train just pulled into my station, so no worries! ( •̀ᄇ• ́)ﻭ✧

Kiri 23:37 – Sero managed to get those two in a drinking competition, sorry about that by the way! They follow Bakugou home then?

Me 23:36 – Yes, but that’s no problem! We have an extra futon. Please send another text when you get home!

Kiri 23:37 – Yes mom! ( ̄^ ̄)ゞ

Me 23:36 – (ಠ ∩ ಠ)

“Dekuuu,” Katsuki growls into his ear, breaking his silence. “Pay attention to me.”

Izuku sighs again, but there’s no hiding the little smile on his face. Katsuki’s always clingy when he gets properly wasted. Setting Katsuki’s phone to the side, Izuku begins the arduous task of struggling out of Katsuki’s hold and from beneath their drunk, giggly friends, who just try to keep him pinned to the couch. Unluckily for them, Izuku easily picks them up despite Hanta’s long, bulky frame. Hanta whines pathetically when he’s tossed back on the couch cushions, Kaminari sitting on his back and turning his attention to his phone as Izuku escapes. Katsuki reattaches himself to Izuku, letting Izuku heft him up until he’s in a comfortable piggy back ride as Izuku heads for the closet.

He pouts when Izuku pulls down their spare futon. “I don’t want to sleep yet,” he whines.

“Well, what do you want to do?” Izuku asks amicably, gathering up a few extra blankets and pillows. “We have a few board games, or maybe a movie? We’ll let Kaminari-kun pick. What’s up with Sero-kun anyways?”

Katsuki huffs a sigh, balancing himself on Izuku’s back as Izuku pushes the coffee table out of the way and rolls out the futon on the floor. “He’s a lonely bastard is all.”

Hanta picks up his head mid-whine. “Why can’t I find a girl?” he asks, a little teary-eyed. “Or a boy? I don’t care! I’m not that picky, Midoriya!”

“Uuum,” Izuku starts, dumbfounded.

Denki snorts, not even looking up from his phone. “Don’t ask him, either. He’s a blockhead, too.”

“Hey!”

“Though to be fair, Bakugou’s a bigger idiot.”

“Hey!”

“But they’re both completely clueless on dating, so don’t bother asking them for advice.”

“Hey!” Izuku and Katsuki snap in unison.

“I got Deku to go out with me!” Katsuki says, brows furrowed in an impressive scowl. “I’m obviously amazing at dating!”

Denki looks up finally with a flat, deadpan expression. “Yeah, after like a decade of pining, most of which I was there for, by the way. And if I remember right, Midoriya asked you out, idiot.”

“Say that to my face, drooly!” Katsuki snarls, trying to crawl of Izuku’s shoulder to grab Denki. Denki stares impassively back, raising one condescending brow. Kaminari-kun is very cool when he’s drunk , Izuku thinks. A bit like Jirou-san.

Still struggling to hold Katsuki back, Izuku pouts at Denki with a look of betrayal. “Yeah, but that’s all Kacchan! Why am I considered so bad at it?”

Denki huffs. “Dude, have you ever even looked at someone else besides Bakugou for, you know, romantic crap?”

All eyes in the room land steadfast on Izuku as he thinks about it, long and hard. Katsuki visibly holds his breath, dangling over Izuku’s shoulder where he had frozen from trying to get at Denki. Izuku taps his chin, his mumbles almost completely inaudible before he finally glances at Katsuki.

“I guess I haven’t,” he says with a tone of finality. Katsuki lets out a huge whoop, immediately hushed by Izuku, and nearly hits the ground before Izuku catches Katsuki around his middle. “Sorry Sero-kun, I guess I’m of no help either,” he says apologetically.

Hanta whines loudly, planting his face back into the cushion. Denki snickers, and pats his head. “Don’t worry, dude! That’s why you have me!” he says proudly, shoving his phone screen. “Behold!”

“Who is she?” Hanta whispers reverently when he picks his head back up to look. Izuku and Katsuki land on his shoulders to peek at the screen as well.

“She works at a vegan restaurant and manages the farmers market in your district,” Denki says proudly, pressing the phone into Hanta’s face. The woman in the picture has light green skin and long blonde hair, proudly holding three puppies in her arms.

“She’s cute,” Hanta says breathlessly.

“Super cute!” Denki agrees.

“She’s out of my league,” Hanta says, collapsing bonelessly under the added weight of Katsuki and Izuku.

Izuku rushes to reassure him, but Katsuki clicks his tongue irritatedly. “As if,” he says. “You graduated from U.A., right? And you’ve already made your hero debut. More like you’re out of some hippie chicks league.”

“Exactly!” Denki says excitedly. “Here lets text her now! Kyouka has her contact info so we’ll just ask—”

“Nope!” Izuku says, snatching the phone away. He holds it out of their reach when both Denki and Hanta yell in indignation, grabbing for it. “You’re way too drunk to be texting a stranger after midnight. Besides, there’s no way Jirou-san would give you her number anyways. Now, go to bed!”

“What?! No—”

“Wait, I just—”

“Deku, I don’t want to—”

“C’mon,” Izuku says, grabbing Kaminari up and dropping him on the futon. Kaminari goes giggling, his confiscated phone already forgotten. Katsuki pouts as Izuku reaches for him, grumbling all the way to their bedroom over Izuku’s shoulder. Izuku turns briefly back to the living room. “There’s water in the fridge if you need it, but please let me know if you need anything!”

“Okay!” Hanta and Denki call, already burritoing themselves into their covers.

“Good night the—ACK! Kacchan!”

Katsuki snickers, and pinches Izuku’s butt one last time before Izuku drops him.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Nine and Twenty-Eight

He drifts gently, slowly to consciousness for no reason, other than that something's wrong. Nothing urgent, nothing so dire that it makes Katsuki snap awake and jump out of bed, ready to fight. Instead, he’s nudged awake by the irritating feeling that something is just missing and that it’s no good for it to be missing, when it should be right there beside him in the first place.

Katsuki cracks one eye open, blearily trying to focus on the swimming, red numbers of the alarm clock across the room. The bed around him is cold besides his spot on his side, Izuku’s pillow in his arms and Izuku himself absent.

“Izuku?” Katsuki calls, his voice raspy with sleep and exhaustion. Groggily, he props himself up on an elbow, blinking tiredly towards the dim light through the crack of the door.

It’s nearly three in the morning and Izuku still hasn’t come to bed. The only discernible sound in the entire apartment is the whirring of the fan in the corner, like white noise that fades comfortingly into the background of their quiet bedroom. Faintly, through the walls, Katsuki can still hear the distant clacking of keys, the scratch of pen on paper, and Izuku’s quiet, fervid muttering, still hard at work. Katsuki groans, letting himself flop back onto the bed and covering himself back up with all of the covers. He closes his eyes, determined to go back to sleep, Izuku be damned.

Barely a minute passes before he’s pulling himself from the warmth of the bed to trudge towards the door, the intense mumbling washing over him when he steps out into their living room.

“Izuku,” Katsuki snaps, his annoyance sharpening his sleepy tone. The muttering cuts off abruptly. “It is three in the fucking morning. Come to bed.”

“Let me finish outlining this one chapter!” Izuku cries, turning in his desk chair with wide, pleading eyes. “Please Kacchan, I’m almost done with it!”

Katsuki sighs, running a hand through his hair and taking in the dark circles around Izuku’s eyes. The past week has been long, filled with several public appearances in between their regular duties. Katsuki almost regrets aiming for the top and pushing Izuku with him. Izuku looks as exchaused as Katsuki does, except for the fiery glint in his eye.

“Fine,” he groans, pulling up a kitchen chair to the desk. “One more chapter. But then I’m dragging you to bed whether you like it or not.”

Izuku just beams at him, happily going back to his notes. “Thank you!”

“Whatever,” Katsuki huffs, resting his head on his arm, watching Izuku work. “Don’t know why you’re in such a hurry. You don’t have a deadline or anything.”

“Doesn’t matter!” Izuku says cheerfully. “It’s all so interesting that it’s hard to find a stopping point. Here, can you read this bit for me?”

Grumbling, Katsuki takes the pages that Izuku’s shoved into his face and stares sleepily down at the blurry words. Mercifully, the writing is printed. Katsuki’s not sure if he could read Izuku’s hasty scrawl with his eyes watering at each yawn. With a tired sigh, he picks up a red marker and sets to work.

This side project, or Izuku’s ‘labor of love’ as he calls it, has been an ongoing quest that Izuku had set for himself nearly eight years ago, now. Katsuki’s been more involved than he’s willing to admit, no matter how often Izuku calls him his co-author. Katsuki’s sure that a good third of the several hundred page manuscript was written by his own hand, not to mention the several thousands of photos and interviews he’s tracked down.

“I still can’t believe you’re almost done with it,” Katsuki says around a yawn.

“It’s all thanks to you, Kacchan,” Izuku says, giving him with a soft smile. “I doubt I’d ever finish if you weren’t doing half the work.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Katuski huffs, turning away. “Should’ve hired a couple of interns or something.”

“No way! How could I trust—”

“—this important project to the hands of the inexperienced blah blah, I’ve heard it before,” Katsuki finishes for him, rolling his eyes. With a quick swipe of his pen, he crosses out a whole paragraph where Izuku rambles on a little too much. “It’s not like this is the first biography written of All Might, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”

Izuku pouts at him. “But this is the first where he agreed to be extensively interviewed for one!”

“Yeah, because it’s you, doofus. So make sure you do it right.” Katsuki looks up with raised brows, expecting Izuku to still be pouting at him. Instead Izuku’s heads tilts just a bit to the side, his smile crooked and soft and his eyes catching Katsuki’s with their warmth. “What?” Katsuki snaps, flushing.

“Nothing,” Izuku says, looking away. He saves his document, closes his laptop, and takes Katsuki’s hand to pull him to bed, still smiling. “Just thinking about how amazing you are.”

Heat floods Katsuki’s chest, stopping him in his tracks for a moment, before he grabs Izuku around his middle and flings the both of them on the bed, snarling over Izuku’s burst of giggling. “How are you always so embarrassing!?”

“Shh, you’ll wake the whole building up!” Izuku says around his laughter. “And you should be used to it by now!”

Groaning, Katsuki buries his face into Izuku’s chest, hiding his blush. Izuku runs a hand through Katsuki’s hair, relaxing where he’s fallen with Katsuki wrapped around him like an octopus. Katsuki pulls the sheet over them, curling close and finally shutting his tired eyes. It’s comforting, that Izuku hasn’t changed after so long, after so much. Still the same Izuku that loves All Might too much, that can mumble up a storm, that says embarrassing things, and that can still make Katsuki blush, pleased and disgusted all at once.

“Kacchan’s so cute,” Izuku whispers, his fingers still lazily raking through Katsuki’s hair.

“Shut up.”

Chapter Text

Seventeen

Izuku looks up at the hesitant rapping on his open door, smile growing when he sees Katsuki standing just outside of Izuku’s dorm. “Kacchan, come in!” he says, pushing away from his desk.

“Hey,” Katsuki mumbles, eyes locked intensely on the floor. Izuku’s smile drops as Katsuki shuffles his feet, taking in the deep scowl on Katsuki’s face as he steps into the room and closes the door behind him. Katsuki shoves his hands deep into his pockets, his fingers visibly closed into fists. “Can we talk?”

Izuku nearly panics. Katsuki doesn’t look angry or irritated like Izuku’s become accustomed to. That, Izuku can deal with just by inviting Katsuki on a jog or a quick spar at the gym. Sometimes Katsuki will even come out with whatever has pissed him off, pacing Izuku’s room as he vents.

But this is different. Instead, Katsuki looks nervous .

“S-Sure,” Izuku says easily enough, even as his mind begins to run wild with a wide variety of different disasters and their contingency plans. He works hard to keep his mouth shut, to keep from mumbling aloud, as Katsuki shifts uneasily before him, still standing and not looking at Izuku. Could there be trouble at home? Izuku thinks. No, of course not, Katsuki’s parents are completely devoted to each other. Is he being harassed? Blackmailed? Extorted? No, that’s stupid, Katsuki would have dealt with that point blank. Did he get into a fight with Eijirou? No, because Eijirou would have come to Izuku before Katsuki would have.

Does Katsuki have a crush?

Izuku begins to sweat. He would help Katsuki with anything he’d ever need, go to the ends of the earth for him, but that... Izuku doesn't know if he could suffer that.

“What did you want to talk about?” Izuku says around the nervous squirming of his stomach.

“I—” Katsuki starts through gritted teeth, but Izuku’s phone interrupts him, the theme to the old All Might cartoon cutting through the tension. Katsuki’s shoulders slump immediately, as if relieved. “That All Might?” he asks as Izuku picks it up.

All Might 16:10 – YOUNG MIDORIYA PLEASE COME TO THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE TO MEET ME

“I guess you better go on then,” Katsuki says, leaning away from the screen that Izuku had turned it to him. “Could be important.”

“But,” Izuku says hesitantly, chewing his lip. “You said you wanted to—”

“Don’t worry about me,” Katsuki says, lips quirking up into what might be the most painful, forced smirk Katsuki’s ever given him. “It was nothing anyways.”

“Didn’t look like nothing,” Izuku grumbles. Katsuki shoves him out the door with a snarl, scowling when Izuku bumps back into his shoulder with a pout. They head down the stairs together to the first floor, the silence uncomfortably heavy between them. Izuku pauses where they should separate, where Izuku would head for the class building and Katsuki would continue on to common area.

Katsuki raises a brow at Izuku’s conflicted face. “Seriously, don’t worry about it,” he says, looking away again. “We’ll… talk about it later, maybe.”

“Sure,” Izuku agrees, still hesitating. He looks at Katsuki for a moment, at the stiff tilt of his mouth, at the way Katsuki won’t meet his eye. “You could come with me you know,” he blurts, and both of Katsuki’s brows go up. “I mean, I don’t think he’d mind. Since, you know,” he says voice dropping off low at the end. “You know.”

Snorting, Katsuki rolls his eyes, his expression softening. “Damn, you’re bad at subterfuge. How you’ve managed to keep this a secret from anyone is a miracle.”

“Hey!”

“He won’t mind?” Katsuki asks, even though he’s already following Izuku to the door.

“Nope! Most likely you’ll just get to watch him kick my ass for a few hours,” Izuku grumbles. Katsuki barks a laugh, his head thrown back as he cackles meanly. Izuku shoves him, but smiles anyways. Whatever tension Katsuki had been holding on to is gone, and he's back to his usual churlish self. He’s glad, but Izuku still hopes that Katsuki won’t keep everything bottled up inside still.

As long as he doesn’t want to talk to Izuku about that .

“Midoriya, my boy!” All Might greets him when they file into the teacher’s lounge. He brightens when his eyes land on Katsuki. “And Bakugou as well, I see.”

“Yes, is that okay?” Izuku asks, suddenly nervous.

“Hah?! You said it would be fine!” Katsuki snaps, grabbing a stray curl at Izuku’s ear to tug on. “You shouldn’t have asked if not, shitty Deku!”

All Might laughs. Though it isn’t as loud and booming as before, it's still just as vibrant, still fills the room with a sudden, calming warmth. “It’s quite alright, no need to worry,” he says, waving away their bickering. They flop down side by side on the couch across from him. “I’m actually very pleased, Bakugou will be an asset to your training. I wanted to test your reflexes today, anyways.”

Katsuki perks up. “Are we sparring?”

“Not quite,” All Might says with a grin, sliding a paper towards Izuku. “More of a game of keep away, without the option of running away. Here’s your goals for today.”

Izuku glances over the page with a grimace, Katsuki leaning in close to read over his shoulder. He can feel the heat of Katsuki along his side, where they’re sat only a scant inch apart, Katsuki’s arm draped lazily along the back of the couch, not touching. Even so, Izuku is hyper-aware of the closeness, Katsuki’s breath barely brushing against his skin and the low sound of his voice, humming as he reads.

“Yeah, you’re going to get your ass kicked,” Katsuki says lowly before he stands, smirking down at Izuku. “Better get ready, nerd.”

Breathing a sigh of relief, Izuku relaxes, smiling wearily as Katsuki crows with enthusiasm. His eyes briefly meet All Might’s across the table, and Izuku freezes.

The small smile stretching the thin skin of All Might’s bony face is far too soft and knowing, as if Izuku has told him aloud, has let him in on that deep, dark secret that Izuku is barely willing to admit to himself. His eyes twinkle as he regards Izuku, and Izuku has to turn away, flushing.

“Well, let’s get to work, boys,” All Might says jovially, clapping his hands on his knees as he stands. Izuku jumps up and dashes away, readily taking the opportunity to escape, and leading the other two towards the recreation gym that the principal had set aside specifically for them.

In his haste, he misses the gentle hand All Might lays on Katsuki’s shoulder, and the way Katsuki ducks his head, blushing just a brightly.

Chapter Text

Twenty

“No wait, stop!” Izuku cries, unable to contain his laughter. A few other shoppers give them disapproving glances, but Izuku’s too distracted to notice, shooting a vague apologetic smile over his shoulder. “Keep it on, Kacchan! Please!”

“Fuck you, Deku,” Katsuki hisses, struggling with both the too small sweater and Izuku, who is trying to forcibly shove it back over his head. Giggling, Izuku bats his hands away until he can pull the sweater back down over the button-up shirt, smoothing it out along Katsuki’s chest.

Katsuki, slightly disheveled and his hair now overly ruffled, scowls at him as Izuku straightens the collar. Taking one look in the mirror, Katsuki glares at him. “I fucking hate it.”

“Oh, c’mon,” Izuku says, grinning giddily. “It looks good on you. Very proper.”

“I look like a dork,” Katsuki sneers, picking at the cuffs of the shirt. “Which makes sense, since you picked it out.”

“You look handsome,” Izuku says, breezing over the insult and straightening the seams at Katsuki’s shoulders, grinning when Katsuki flushes a bright red. It’s a little game, to see how deeply he can get Katsuki to blush, to test the limits of how embarrassed Katsuki can get when he’s trying to act cool.

“And like a model citizen and responsible hero, as Best Jeanist instructed. Not at all like some rouge beast who destroyed a whole city block last week,” he continues, teasingly glancing up at Katsuki through his lashes.

“Says the guy who leveled a parking garage,” Katsuki says, pouting at him.

“An unused parking garage that was set for demolition!”

“Yeah, but you didn’t know that at the time.”

“Not the point!” Izuku says, hurriedly changing the subject. “The point is, it’s your first sit-down interview on national television! You should look good!”

Glancing down at the sweater and collared shirt combo over a pair of pleated slacks, Katsuki raises a brow at him. “Probably,” he agrees, smirking. “But I’m starting to wonder why you of all people are lecturing me on it, considering.”

“Hey! I dress well!”

“Deku,” Katsuki says, leveling him with a flat, unimpressed stare. “You’re literally wearing a stolen hoodie and straight cut jeans.”

Izuku glances down at the Ryukyu hoodie, left behind by Ochako last week when she had been by for dinner at his apartment, and the last pair of pants he’d had in the closet. “I was in a rush,” Izuku defends himself. “You didn’t exactly give me a lot of time to change."

Katsuki had given him exactly zero time, banging on his door at nine in the morning and dragging Izuku out to the shopping district with promises of lunch if Izuku would help him pick out an outfit for the interview. Throwing on whatever he could find, Izuku had followed him out, heart soaring at the thought of spending his whole day off with Katsuki, despite the growing need to do laundry.

“If you’re not in costume, you’re wearing t-shirts and cargo shorts. Or gym clothes,” Katsuki says with a snort.

“I have nice clothes! Ochako-chan and Mina took me shopping last month.”

“You don’t even have a suit.”

“I do have a suit! All Might helped me pick it out.”

Katsuki grimaces violently. “Burn it.”

“I would never!” Izuku gasps.

“Whatever that old man picked out has got to be hideous. For your own good, burn it.”

“I can’t believe you would slander my predecessor and our teacher like that! All Might has great tastes!”

Katsuki rolls his eyes and turns ,disappearing back into the changing rooms. “Burn it or I’ll burn it for you!” he calls over his shoulder.

Huffing, Izuku waits until Katsuki returns, back into his nice jeans and fitted henley underneath his leather jacket. Izuku takes one long, appreciative look at him and deflates. “Why did you want me to come shopping with you again?” Izuku grumbles, eyeing the way the jeans hug tightly along Katsuki’s backside as he leads Izuku away. “You always dress so nicely,” he whines.

“Fucking stop it with the damn comments already!” snaps Katsuki, rounding on him with his eyes and his face both a blazing red. He grabs Izuku and drags him away from the scandalized glare of a nearby shopper, growling when Izuku bursts into giggles.

“It’s true though,” Izuku says, teasingly pressing himself into Katsuki’s side. “Kacchan’s always been so handsome! Sometimes I think you could have been a model, if you hadn’t wanted to be a hero.” He leans in close to whisper into Katsuki’s ear. “I would buy all your magazine spreads.”

He steps away as Katsuki explodes, literally. Billowing smoke rises from where he’s standing, engulfing Katsuki in a black, coughing cloud. Izuku bends double, covering his mouth as he laughs, only pulling it together when the mall security starts to scold them.

“Please don’t use your quirk in the building,” the stern woman in uniform says, wagging a finger at them.

“It was just an accident!” Izuku hurries to reassure her, bowing deeply while Katsuki waves his smoke cloud away. He claps his hands together, nervously apologizing. “It won’t happen again, we’re very sorry for the disturbance.”

The guard gives them a stern look, and nods. “I recognize you two. U.A. grads, am I right? A couple of good sidekicks too, I’m sure.” Izuku nods nervously, and she cracks a smile. “I think I’ve seen you both on the news before. Keep up the good work.” And with that, she returns to her post.

Hand on his chest, Izuku breathes a slow sigh of relief. Katsuki throws an arm around Izuku’s shoulder, squeezing him a little too tightly. “Be careful, Deku, or you might turn into a delinquent,” he says, sneering down at him. “Making me blow up like that.”

“I can’t help it you’re so easy to tease,” Izuku says, his smile turning sly just like that. “I’ll have to tell Kirishima-kun you exploded again.”

“I’ll buy you ice cream if you don’t,” Katsuki says immediately.

Izuku pretends to think it over, before he grins at him. “I think that’s a fair exchange,” he says, chuckling when Katsuki relaxes into and steers him towards the ice cream parlor, arm still placed over Izuku’s shoulders, a warm, welcomed weight.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Three

Katsuki waits outside the little cafe, shuffling his boots through the fresh blanket of powdery snow. He pulls his scarf a little tighter around his face, breath puffing through the thick knit and rising away into the darkened sky. The city is lit with twinkling lights and filled with people out enjoying their Christmas Eve. But as the hours pass, the crowds thin and the bustling activity in the cafe gradually calms.

Sighing, Katsuki shifts, his back cold where he’s been leaning against the brick wall outside of the entrance. The chill is settling in his bones, and he rubs his hands together.

One of the cafe’s waitresses pops her head out the door, her dark hair catching a few stray snowflakes. “Are you sure you don’t want to wait inside, sir?” she asks, for maybe the third time, with a sweet, understanding smile. “We have plenty of free tables now.”

“It’s fine,” Katsuki says shortly, shoving his hands deep in his pockets, fingers wrapping around the little wrapped box sitting in the bottom of his coat pocket. “I’ll wait out here.”

“Yes, sir. Please keep in mind we close in hour,” she says, nodding polietly and ducking back into the warmth of the restaurant.

Katsuki turns his eyes back to the street ahead of him, now sparsely dotted with a few couples and a group of teenagers. He waits as they all slowly make their way home, the sidewalks emptying, and when the cafe owner steps out the door, he gives her a small nod of acknowledgement, ignoring her pitying smile.

It’s only a few minutes after, the streets empty and Christmas lights extinguished, that he catches sight of a green blur sprinting in his direction.

“Kacchan,” Izuku breathes, sliding to a stop in front of Katsuki, his face twisted in a bitter frown, his eyes already watering. “Kacchan, I’m so sorry, I couldn’t get—”

Katsuki dips down, silencing Izuku’s apologizes with a cold and searing kiss, Izuku’s lips warm against his. Izuku whines into it and goes limp, letting Katsuki hold him up, arms wrapped tightly around Izuku’s waist.

“It’s okay,” Katsuki murmurs, backing off a bit so he can wrap the front of his coat around Izuku shivering frame, still only in his hero costume.

Izuku gladly lets himself be enfolded into the warmth, still sniffling. “No it’s not,” he croaks, pressing his face into Katsuki’s shoulder. “It was supposed to be really special. Did you at least get to eat dinner?”

Humming noncommittally, Katsuki shrugs. “Let’s just go back to my place, okay? I’ll make you something there.”

Discreetly wiping at his face, Izuku nods, letting Katsuki tuck him under his arm and leaning into his side. They walk the few blocks to Katsuki’s apartment through near silent streets, meeting only one stray straggler making his own way home from work. The man’s eye catches on Izuku’s costume, but doesn’t acknowledge them beyond that, except for a friendly nod. For that, Katsuki is grateful. Izuku tiredly rests his head on Katsuki’s shoulder, shuffling along as he’s led away.

“Sorry for the intrusion,” Izuku says automatically when Katsuki opens the door for him.

In Katsuki’s entry way, Izuku plops down on the step to pull off his shoes, the red a bright splash among the dark colors of Katsuki’s boots and loafers. Katsuki pauses as he locks the front door, eyes catching on them, the way Izuku has placed them right by Katsuki’s, a line of shoes together by his front door.

Izuku is already trudging down the hall towards the kitchen when Katsuki looks up, his back a tired, slumped line that screams exhaustion.

“Go take a bath,” Katsuki says, following him and gently ruffling the curly top of Izuku head. “I’ll make dinner while you get clean, and then bed.”

A little smile curves Izuku’s lips and he nods, letting Katsuki peck a quick kiss against that tired smile before he shuffles off towards the shower. Sighing, Katsuki pulls out the little christmas cake he’d made earlier that day, glad he’d thought to put it in the refrigerator before heading out for their date. The little, perfect slices of strawberries are still sitting perfectly at top the whipped cream as Katsuki had arranged them, waiting to be cut and served.

He looks at it for a long moment, and turns back to their dinner, a simple bowl of rice with egg and salmon that was supposed to be part of their breakfast in the morning. But Katsuki already has the ingredients for pancakes, and there’s leftover strawberries from the cake.

He’s almost done frying the eggs, over easy, just the way Izuku likes, when a pair of arms wrap around his waist, the smell of shampoo and soap filling Katsuki’s nose.

“I don’t even have your present with me,” Izuku mumbles sadly into Katsuki’s back. “I was going to go home and shower, so I left it there.”

Katsuki snorts, turning around in Izuku’s arms and pulling him into a long kiss, tasting the toothpaste on Izuku’s tongue. “It’s fine, Deku,” he says gently, leaning pressing their foreheads together. “It’s just a stupid holiday, we can exchange later, okay? And you’re gonna have to brush your teeth again, stupid.”

Izuku hums, his eyes closing tiredly, leaning into Katsuki’s arms.

Katsuki gives him a moment to just breathe, soaking up the warmth between them before he shuffles him away to the little table in the corner. They eat quietly, the late night quiet around them, midnight already long since passing them by.

“Close your eyes and hold out your hands,” Katsuki says after Izuku pushes his bowl away.

Curiously, Izuku looks up at him. “I thought we were going to exchange presents later when I had yours,” he whines, cheeks puffing out in a pout.

“Just do it, nerd.”

With a huff, Izuku complies, holding out his empty hands and opening them obediently when Katsuki place the cake box in them. “You baked!” he gasped, eyes lighting up as he takes in the intricate strawberry decoration. “You hate baking!”

“I don’t hate it,” Katsuki sneers, grinding his teeth and taking the box back to cut. “It’s just not as fun as cooking.”

Izuku chuckles, taking a slice of cake when Katsuki hands it to him. He hums happily as he takes a bite, the letting the conversation meander away between them.

“I’m moving agencies,” Katsuki blurts after the long silence stretches too thin. Izuku looks up with wide eyes, mid-bite, fork hovering in the air with a strawberry at the end. “It’s a little closer,” he continues, leg bouncing a little beneath the table. “So, you know, we could start looking for apartments. If you wanted.”

“Yes!” Izuku near shouts, jumping to his feet. “I can call a realtor tomorrow and—”

“Whoa, calm the fuck down,” Katsuki says, chuckling, all the tension he’d been feeling all day leaving his body. “No realtor is going to talk to us until after the holidays.”

Grinning from ear to ear despite the clear exhaustion weighing on his face, Izuku sits back down. “So, you got the job with Endeavor’s agency?”

“Yep,” Katsuki says, shoving Izuku’s bowl a little closer towards him, prompting him to eat. “That icyhot bastard called me today. I start in two weeks, and he’s already requested me as a partner. So I’ll be doing rounds with him.”

Izuku smirks around another bite. “So, Shouto’s going to be your superior?”

“He fucking wishes,” Katsuki says with an sneer. “I’d hate to have to put him in his place, including his shitty dad.”

Izuku laughs, and Katsuki can’t help but smile as the sound of it fill the room. Christmas ticks away unnoticed at Katsuki’s little dining table in his little apartment that he won’t be his for much longer. Soon enough, he and Izuku will have their own place together, no more running to see each other when they have a second, or long commutes in the morning. No more missing Izuku, and wanting him close, because he’ll be right there with him.

The little ring box sits heavily in the pocket of his coat and in the back of his mind, wait for another day.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Two and Twenty-One

Katsuki and Izuku quickly learn that it’s hard to catch a day off together when they start dating. Before, they would just see each other whenever they were in the same area or quickly on nights after their shifts. But it’s never enough now, when Katsuki is allowed to pull Izuku to his side, to lean down and steal a kiss. He craves it, more than he thought he ever would, that intimacy, the closeness. Between college courses at different universities and their sidekick jobs, time is limited, growing ever smaller as they get busier and busier.

So, when they have a day off at the same time at the tail end of June, Izuku jumps on it.

“Let’s go to the beach!”

Katsuki pauses where he’s unlocking his door, grocery bags in hand and his phone balanced between his shoulder and ear. On the other end of the call, Izuku is already babbling away about nearby public beaches, and Katsuki can hear the clack of laptop keys, a sure sign that Izuku is just reading from a webpage.

“I know it’s really last minute,” Izuku is saying, a little nervous. “But I think it would be really fun! Just the two of us. If you want, I can grab my stuff and stay at your place tonight? So we can head out early!”

He starts to mutter up a storm, verbally putting together a list of things they would need, and Katsuki takes a moment to think about it. It has been a while since he’s been out of the city, and he has a whole uninterrupted thirty-five hours stretch before him with nothing to do before his next shift at Jeanist’s agency.

He thinks about a long day at the beach, the hot sand and cool breeze, and the scattering of freckles along Izuku’s shoulders, darkening in the sun. Katsuki doesn’t even bother to hide his smirk.

“Sure,” he says, cutting through Izuku’s babbling. The groceries land with a solid thump on the countertop, Katsuki leaning against the cabinet to focus completely on the conversation. “Let’s do it. Get your shit together and head over here before the last train.”

“Really?!” Izuku shouts in his ear, but Katsuki just snorts in amusement.

“Yeah, but find one out of the city, I don't want to deal with the crowds,” Katsuki says, pulling vegetables from their bags. “Make sure you bring those green swimming trunks though.”

Izuku pauses for a moment. “But those are too short,” he says hesitantly.

Katsuki smirks, make sure Izuku can hear the leer in his voice. “I know. Now hurry up.”

Nearly two hours later finds Katsuki shuffling Izuku straight to bed from the door way, the both of them still a little awkward moving around one another on Katsuki’s mattress, until they relax, curled up under the covers and tangled.

In the morning, they rise early before the sun, sleepily gathering up their pre-packed bags and eating a quick snack before they head for the train station. Katsuki buys the tickets, and they lean heavily on one another as the first train of the morning heads out, the sun barely a light line of silver on the horizon. The clacking of the wheels on the track and the soft hum of the engine running lulls Katsuki into a doze, Izuku a warm weight against his side. Outside the big windows, the city disappears, overtaken by patches of dense woodland and the square, meandering patches of farmland. He watches it pass with lidded eyes, Izuku’s head resting on his shoulder, his hair soft against Katsuki’s cheek.

They change over three times, shuffling through smaller, local stations to get on smaller lines, until finally the train spits them out on the coast around eight in the morning. Katsuki takes a deep breath of ocean air, tasting the salt on his tongue, the gulls already calling to them from the beach.

Izuku’s fingers lace through Katsuki’s, his hand hot against Katsuki’s palm. “Ready?” Izuku asks, his eyes still a little sleepy but crinkled with a wide grin.

Smiling, Katsuki says nothing, and just leads Izuku down the tiny paved road towards the beach. The little coastal village is quiet this early in the morning on a weekend, only a few elderly to be spotted walking their dogs or stepping out to check the mail.

At the first glimpse of the ocean between the buildings, Izuku breathes a happy sigh.

“We haven’t been to the beach together since we were little,” Izuku says, rubbing his thumb along the side of Katsuki’s hand, the end of his nail gently scratching against his skin. Their flip flops slap heavily on the warm concrete, the morning sun heating the ground beneath their feet.

“We went like a million times in high school,” Katsuki says. He eyes the flushed cheeks of Izuku’s face, already a little red in the morning sun. “Put on your hat already.”

Rolling his eyes, Izuku releases their hold on on each other to dig through his bag. “Bossy,” he says, with a small smile. “And I meant just the two of us. We used to play on the beach all the time when we were little, remember? Your mom would always take us because she liked to tan all summer.”

Katsuki snorts. “You used to cry because I’d bury you in sand and you’d get scared,” he says, an easy, teasing smirk on his face. “Gonna let me do it again?”

“Sure,” Izuku says distractedly. “Where is it—?”

“You forgot your hat didn’t you?”

Izuku’s silence and hunched shoulders are answer enough, so Katsuki pulls out his own from the top of his bag.

“Here, you idiot,” he sighs, shoving the All Might snapback over Izuku’s curls. “Might not be nerdy enough for you, but it’s better than nothing.”

Pouting, Izuku adjusts it on his head so the brim is shoved over his eyes. “But what you about you?”

“That’s okay, I brought two.”

“Liar,” Izuku says with narrowed eyes, poking his bottom lip out. “Now you don’t have a hat.”

“Whatever!” Katsuki says loudly, throwing an arm over Izuku’s shoulders and pressing him to his side, so he doesn’t have to look at Izuku’s stupidly cute pout. “I don’t burn like some wimp I know after being in a little sun. It’s fine.”

“If you say so,” Izuku dramatic sigh, wrapping his arms around Katsuki’s middle as they walk. They pass through a few more empty streets before the buildings open up to bright sand and crashing waves. The beach is practically deserted, just like they were hoping for.

“Fuck yes,” Katsuki says, pulling Izuku towards the shoreline. “Got the whole place to ourselves.”

Izuku chuckles, dropping their bags on the sand to set out their blanket and towels while Katsuki trots off to rent an umbrella from the only beach house open so early in the morning. When he returns, Izuku has everything spread out, their breakfast already pulled out of the little cooler and ready to eat.

“What do you wanna do first?” Katsuki asks around a bite of egg sandwich, eyes on the vast line of water before them, watching the gulls dive into the sea for their own meal.

“Nap,” Izuku says with a sunny grin, hidden under the shade of their umbrella.

Katsuki gapes at him, and bursts into laughter. “You’re such an old man,” he says, leaning over to smack a flurry wet kisses against Izuku’s neck, pulling him close when Izuku squirms away giggling. “We can take a fucking nap. It’s a rest day anyways.”

They flop back onto the blanket on their backs, laughing tiredly, their hands clasped between them and Katuski’s leg thrown across Izuku’s knee. In an instant Izuku is dead asleep, head pillowed on his arm, his whole body tilted against Katsuki’s side. Katsuki snorts quietly, brushing away the fluffy bangs from Izuku's tired eyes and pressing one more quick kiss to his forehead. Laying back, Katsuki covers his eyes with his forearm, letting the roar of the ocean and the humid summer air wash over him as he chases sleep.

Chapter Text

Twenty

Katsuki takes a deep, calming breath, willing the trembling of his heart in his chest to slow, grinding his teeth together to distract himself.

The budding first hours of January are already colder than December, the temperature steadily dropping in the night as each second adds to the new year. He can still hear the shrine gongs still distantly welcoming in the year, and the muffled crowds heading for home. Around them, everyone is much the same, feeling a little far off, mutedly chattering together, pressed close for warmth, their boots crunching through the fresh layer of snow and leaving behind a thinning trail along the sidewalks.

Ochako is squished between Mina and Momo, their arms around her to insulate her too thin-jacket. Surrounded on all sides, Shouto is steadily putting out heat, the snow beneath him slightly melting. They all peel off onto side streets in twos and threes, heading for home with cheerful calls and a few more “Happy New Years!”

Heart fluttering his chest, Katsuki takes another deep breath.

Izuku’s hand is cold in his, his fingers curled up against Katsuki’s palm for warmth. The weight of it in his hand steals his already divided attention, his focus scattered on the firm hold on Izuku’s fingers. Katsuki can feel each bone in Izuku’s hand, strong and solid, rubs his thumb over Izuku’s knuckles, his eyes dropping down so he can see their hands held tight together between them.

Their shoulders bump as they walk, and Izuku is so close. Katsuki thinks about leaning over and—

“Kacchan?”

“What?” Katsuki snaps, facing forward quickly. His face feels too hot in the cool air.

“Kacchan,” Izuku says again, swinging their hands between them until Katsuki looks at him. He smiles, his lips and nose red from the cold, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “It’s snowing.”

His eyes shifting up to the sky just in time, Katsuki catches the first glimpses of a few drifting flakes emerging from the darkness, lit up by the street lights. A few of the last stragglers from their group let out a whoop, opening their hands to catch the new snowflakes. Eijirou ducks down and throws a handful into the air, coating Mina and Denki.

Izuku’s hand turns in his, clutching Katsuki and jerking him away from the ensuing snowball fight.

“See you two later!” Denki shouts just before he gets a snowball to the face.

“Bye-bye!” Izuku calls, waving over his shoulder as he pulls Katsuki away. They slow to a walk a few blocks over, well away from trouble, just the two of them alone. The silence between them isn't heavy, but it sets Katsuki's teeth on edge, waiting with his gut twisting for a bomb to drop. He knows his palms are beginning to sweat, but Izuku doesn't notice. When Katsuki glances at him from the corner of his eyes, Izuku's smile is content, as if he's happy just to hold Katsuki's hand as they walk. They don’t say anything at all, even as they pass by Izuku’s apartment, and then Katsuki’s street, where their families are probably waiting for them to return home.

Izuku presses himself a little closer, their steps in sync as they wander, and Katsuki’s heart beats heavily in his chest. He barely feels it though, where it thunders under his skin.

The only thing he cares for is the little smile on Izuku’s face, cheeks flushed with cold, and the dark green of his eyes when he looks up at Katsuki.

“Hey, Kacchan.” Izuku’s voice is soft and gentle, like the hand in Katsuki’s, warm fingers tangled with his and holding him like a prize. Katsuki doesn’t realize that they’ve stopped walking until they’re standing chest to chest, their breaths warming the air between them in white, curling puffs. Izuku’s eyes are green and deep and sparkling. “Can I kiss you?”

Katsuki’s breath hitches in his throat. Izuku is so, so close. There’s snow gathering in his hair, melting against the freckled skin of his cheeks and nose.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Izuku says, his smile never wavering. “I told you I would—”

Closing those last few inches between them, Katsuki presses his first kiss to Izuku’s mouth, their lips too cold from the chilly winter air, but it’s still soft and sweet, even if his nose bumps with Izuku's. Something hot begins to burn in the middle of Katsuki, and his hand finds Izuku’s hip, pulling him close until their pressed flush together.

Izuku’s fingers curl around the side of his neck, threading through Katsuki's hair, Izuku’s lips trembling against his. Katsuki pulls away, just a little, the damp curls of Izuku’s hair tickling his forehead. There are tears in Izuku’s eyes as he looks at him, alight with wander and awe. It used to make Katsuki want to shrink away, to hide away from that look Izuku would always give him.

This time it fills Katsuki with warmth, contentment. It makes him feel whole.

“Kacchan?” Izuku breathes, his voice barely a whisper, and Katsuki leans in again, swallowing the little whimper that falls from Izuku’s mouth, and catching Izuku’s lips in another kiss, quick and warm and sweet.

And then he pulls away, and the world comes back to focus, the pounding of his heart and the tremble of his fingers. When he opens his mouth, he realizes his throat is tight, and he has to swallow before he speaks. “It’s getting late,” he says, his voice quiet and thick.

Izuku stares up at him for a moment, his face red before he smiles, wide and wobbly, and wipes quickly at his eyes. “Okay, Kacchan,” he says cheerfully, coming back up beaming, but Katsuki’s stomach drops.

Oblivious, or just politely ignoring the way Katsuki hunches his shoulders, Izuku grabs Katsuki’s hand as they start for home, lacing their fingers together again until they part ways. Katsuki stands at the street corner, watching as Izuku waves back at him and disappears down his street.

When he finally makes it home to a dark house and locked doors, he flops into bed with a growl, burying his face under his pillow. He hates feeling like this, hesitant and unsure, completely on the wrong footing, trying to catch up as quickly as he can with Izuku. But all the same, he presses his palm to his face, remembering Izuku’s breath against his lips before Katsuki had finally, finally, kissed.

Sighing, he rolls over, trying to ignore the squirming nerves in his gut and the smile stretching across his face, his fingers tracing it, where he had kissed Izuku, glad that he doesn’t regret it.

His phone dings, muffled from where it’s trapped still in his pocket.

Deku 03:35 – Happy New Year! I’m really happy I got to spend it with you! (^▽^)

Deku 03:35 – Please keep my in your care this year!

Katsuki snorts, feeling lighter all at once.

Me 03:36 – I will.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Two

Katsuki steps out of the bar and into the hot August night, the humidity sticking to his skin and clinging to his clothes. He takes a deep breath of it, waving over his shoulder at Shouto and Denki’s cheerful farewell. Following a long, long mission and several nights spent on call at his agency, while working closely with a few others close to the case, Katsuki had been just tired enough to agree to Denki’s suggestion to get drinks.

After everything was said and done, and the last report was typed up and delivered, he’d let himself be dragged away along with Shouto to a nearby bar, to watch several others of his coworkers get drunk. Katsuki appreciates his sake when he needs to, but more than anything, he’s ready to get some much needed sleep.

He’s rounding the street corner, putting the little bar behind him, when his phone rings. Izuku’s puffed-up face pouts at him on the screen with his contact name, and a fond smile takes over Katsuki’s face as he answers.

“Oi, what are you doing up so late, nerd?”

“Awe, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk so sweet, Bakugou,” Ochako says, her voice loud and giggly through the speaker. “But you still call him a nerd! Such a mean boyfriend!”

Scowling, Katsuki shoulders bunch up around his ears. “What the fuck, round face!”

Ochako burts into a fit of giggles. “Sorry, sorry, but I got your boyfriend waaasted~!”

“Kacchaaan!” Katsuki hears Izuku wail in the background, sounding suspiciously nasally.

“Is he crying!?”

“Only a little,” Ochako assures him. “It’s really funny actually, because he’s been ranting about you the entire time.”

“He has pretty eyes!” Izuku whines, now closer to the phone. There’s a tell-all sniffle, and then, “O-Ochako, I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Oh, wait, nooo—”

The call cuts off there, and Katsuki stands in the middle of the sidewalk, his face in his palm, and sighs. After a long second dispelling his own warm buzz fogging his head, he looks back at his phone, grumbling to himself, “I bet that idiot’s still got his tracker on, anyways, always fucking forgetting that shit…” And with a few taps on the screen, sure enough, a little dot registered as Deku sits on the map a good four blocks away.

He keeps his eye on it as he starts walking, wondering why Izuku had been nearby, but not invited Katsuki out with him. He’s turning down the last street when he realizes that he hasn’t really spoken to Izuku in the last 72 hours.

Katsuki hears Izuku before he sees him, and huffs a laugh when he spots both Ochako and Izuku crouched down together on a side street, Ochako’s hand rubbing soothing circles on Izuku back even as she’s cackling.

“That doesn’t sound cool at all,” she says, her snorting laugh loud in the night.

“It was!” Izuku sobs. “Kacchan’s super cool. That cat followed him around for months until he found a home for it.”

Immediately, he knows what story Izuku is telling and feels himself flush. “Oi, you two,” he snaps. They turn to him with wide eyes, caught, and Katsuki is at least relieved to see no vomit on the street. “Be responsible adults and go home!”

Izuku stares up at him in shock for another moment, before dissolving into snotty tears. “Kacchaaan! You came!”

Ochako, unhelpful as ever, hides her face as she snorts out another giggle.

Katsuki sighs, grabbing the two of them up by the collars of their shirts and trying to set them on their feet. But Izuku wobbles dangerously and Ochako starts to float away, so he has to grab both of them. “What a pain,” he complains, even as he pulls Izuku tightly to his side. “Think you can walk?”

Sniffling and burying his face into Katsuki’s side, Izuku shakes his head. “Sorry, Kacchan,” he mumbles, listing a little to the side as Katsuki wraps an arm around him.

"Don't worry about it," Katsuki says, tugging Izuku close to support his weight and starts to walk, dragging Ochako through the air by her ankle as they go. "We'll figure it out."

"Sorry, Kacchan," Izuku repeats, his voice breaking a little.

“It’s fine,” Katsuki says, his voice a little gentler this time, pressing his cheek the top of Izuku's head where it rests against his shoulder. He casts a glare up at Ochako's smug face. “Shouldn’t that glasses asshole have hearded you idiots home by now?”

“He’s workiiing,” Ochako sings.

“Ugh. Who let you two out by yourselves anyways?”

“Izuku missed you!” Ochako says, twisting in the air so she’s hanging onto his shirt instead of being tugged around by the foot. She gives him a sheepish upside down grin that does nothing to really appease him considering how drunk she is. “So I took him out to get his mind off it, and then we kind of missed the last train.”

“Stupid,” Katsuki huffs. “You better be glad I was nice enough to come get you assholes.”

Ochako snorts out another laugh. "Thanks for the ride."

"What do I look like, a taxi service to you?!"

Izuku sniffles again, clutching Katsuki tightly around his middle. Sighing again, Katsuki rubs his hand across Izuku’s shoulders as he leads them home.

The tiny apartment greets them with darkness when Katsuki unlocks the door. Ochako finally makes contact with the earth again, and immediately flops down on Katsuki’s little couch, her soft snores muffled by the cushion.

Rolling his eyes, Katsuki sets Izuku down on the step to help him out of his shoes, batting Izuku’s hands away when they fumble on the laces. “You don’t with the waterworks for the rest of the night?” he asks, pulling Izuku’s boot off.

“Hmmm,” Izuku hums in agreement, flopping back on the floor and undoing his belt.

“Wait, wait!” Katsuki hisses in a panic, snatching Izuku’s wrists away. “Don’t get fucking naked, idiot!”

“Huh?” Izuku says, starting up a Katsuki with a fierce pout. “Why not?!”

“Shitty round face is here, that’s why!”

“Ochako?”

Katsuki sighs, “Yes, dipshit.” He pulls Izuku up with a sharp tug and pulls him over to the bed. “Get comfy, but keep your fucking clothes on.”

Sitting huffily down on the edge of the bed, Izuku looks up at Katsuki with squinty eyes, his head cocked to the side and his lips pursed together. Katsuki stays still, taking in the hazy look in Izuku’s eyes and the bright flush across his cheek bones. They watch each other for a moment, before Izuku smiles, slow and sweet.

“Thanks for coming to get me,” he says, his voice a soft whisper. Katsuki clicks his tongue in response, reaching a hand to run his fingers through Izuku’s sweaty hair. Izuku leans into it, his smile growing as Katsuki cups the side of his face, his eyes half-lidded and sleepy. “I missed you,” he murmurs.

Tracing the edge of Izuku’s lip with his thumb, Katsuki leans down to press a slow kiss to Izuku’s mouth, tasting the sake and beer on his breath. “I missed you, too,” Katsuki says when he backs away, only so far so their foreheads rest together.

For a moment, or a minute, they stay like that, and then they fall back onto the bed with all their clothes still on, their legs tangled, pressed close together despite the lingering heat of summer.

Chapter Text

Twenty-Three

“I really think you should slow down,” Shouto says, pressed fully back into his seat as Katsuki fishtails around another corner. He’s looking very green, which is good for Katsuki, because it keeps him quiet—but maybe not so good for his interior.

“Deku thinks he’s so smart,” Katsuki says by way of answer. “Fuck him, we’re going to beat his ass there.”

Beside him, Tenya leafs through the atlas, looking perfectly content as the motion of the car tilts him from side to side, though he does look up with a frown after several twisting turns with squealing tires. “Truthfully, it is very unsafe to go this fast on mountain roads. Please reduce your speed adequately,” he says.

Katsuki bats away Tenya’s talkative hands, but does slow a little with only a little aggressive grumbling. “Fuck off.”

They’re wrapping around a trail of mountains, the ocean bright and sparkling at their left as they drive, just above the treetops below them. The roads so far have been empty except for a few trucks making their routes to deliver products to the more rural parts of the country. Ochako has some soft, jazzy music playing quietly through the speakers, and Tsuyu is sitting in the middle of the back seat playing a game on her phone. Shouto finally relaxes as the car returns to a normal speed, resting his head on the seatback behind Katsuki.

“Hah, fucking carsick?” Katsuki says to the review where he can see Shouto glancing at him. “What are you, a baby?”

“No,” Ochako pipes up from the other side of the car, her face smug. “It’s because of your terrible driving.”

“What was that, round face?!”

“I said your driving sucks!”

A vein throbs in Katsuki’s head. “I drive fucking perfectly, asshole! I haven’t broken one law since I got my fucking license.”

Ochako snorts, but doesn’t say anything else, knowing just how much that would annoy him. Katsuki grips the steering wheel, white knuckled and teeth grinding as they enter a tunnel. They chatter quietly around him, but Katsuki tunes them out, eyes focused on the road and the week ahead.

Barely four years, and their graduating class is already trying to have some kind of reunion, despite how busy everyone is with university or hero work, or both. It almost pisses him off, except Izuku had been properly excited about it, so who was Katsuki to say no? A whole week on the lake doesn’t sound too bad anyways. And Momo may have promised him on the side that he and Izuku could have a room to themselves.

A whole week with Izuku and one bed between them sounds amazing. Not that Katsuki will ever admit it.

Or maybe he would, if Izuku asks nicely.

As if summoned by Katsuki straying thoughts, his phone rings from it’s spot on the dash. “Alright, shut the fuck up,” Katsuki says to the already quiet car as he puts the cell on speaker phone. “Hey, nerd.”

“Kacchaaan,” Izuku whines. “We hit traffic.”

“HA, serves you right!”

“You’re so mean! We’re so far from a bathroom and I’m about to die.”

“Midoriya-chan’s tiny bladder strikes again,” Tsuyu says from the back seat, and Ochako bursts into giggles.

“It’s not that tiny!” Izuku cries—Katsuki can imagine his embarrassed face and has to hide his smile.

Katsuki snorts. “It’s the size of a bean, Deku. You already drank that thermos of tea, didn’t you?”

There’s a tell-all silence through the phone, and the staticy sound of Mina’s laughter in the background before Izuku admits, “I was thirsty.”

The car erupts into laughter, drowning out Izuku’s attempts to defend himself. Katsuki finds himself chuckling along with them, until the noise finally dies down at Izuku’s pathetic complaints. They talk for a while longer, too many voices echoing across the phone, and Katsuki wonders privately to himself why a group of friends seperated for only a few hours would want to chat again already, when they’ll have a whole week to become sick of the other’s presence.

But Izuku is laughing freely through the phone, so maybe Katsuki gets it.

“Oh, Kirishima-kun, a rest stop!”

“I’m on it, Midoriya!” Eijirou’s voice bellows from the speaker.

“I guess we’ll let you guys go,” Izuku says into the phone, and Katsuki grunts. His voice goes low and teasing when he says,  “We’ll be at the beach house when you get there!”

“Like fuck, nerd, we’re going to beat you!”

“Keep telling yourself that, Kacchan.”

“I’ll prove it. Now hang up, dammit, I’m not going to be distracted while kicking your ass.”

Izuku snorts. “If you say so. I guess we’ll hang up now.”

“After you,” Katsuki grumbles, but his heart’s not in it, and Tenya raises his brow at the smile plastered on his face.

“Okay then,” Izuku says cheerfully. “See you soon, Kacchan! Be careful.”

“Yeah, yeah, you too.” And the line goes quiet.

Hours later, when they finally make it to the secluded house on a private beach, Izuku’s already there to greet him with a teasing smile. Katsuki takes the ribbing with as much grace as he can, which is not a lot, so there’s a good bit of shouting in the front drive at their arrival. But after that, Izuku takes their luggage and Katsuki’s hand and drags him through the house with it’s shining polished wood and traditional tatami mats. He leads him to a beautifully furnished room with wide opens windows and the ocean looking in on them from just past the rocks.

“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?” Izuku says with an excited grin, his eyes sparkling as he rests his chin on Katsuki’s shoulder, watching him take in the view. “And Yaoyorozu said we’d have a room to ourselves!”

“Yeah,” Katsuki says, eyes drifting back to Izuku’s face, still round and boyish underneath his grin, despite the several years of hero work now under his belt. He wraps an arm around Izuku’s waist, and pulls him close for a quick, hot kiss. “I don’t know how I’m gonna put up with your damn snoring for a whole week though.”

Izuku’s blush rises high on his cheeks, brows pulling down in a pout. “I don’t snore, Kacchan!”

Katsuki laughs, stealing three more wet kisses from Izuku’s laughing mouth before he’s shoved away.