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Beyond You and I

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Katsuki usually doesn’t remember many of his dreams or when they start, but he knows they mostly consisted of a single hero- a blond man with a plain face. He would always stand by a tall marble statue of All Might and wave at him, the scars decorating his skin highlighted against the bright lights, before Katsuki would wake up in tears.

He doesn’t know why there is so much sadness among these dreams but he has no one he can ask. He just draws the man and his scars with his crayons and his mother hangs them on their fridge.

“Is that supposed to be All Might?” His father smiles and Katsuki can’t help but frown back. He’s not sure who the man is but it’s not All Might. He is something close .

Katsuki becomes obsessed with heroes and he knows he's going to be great. His quirk will be strong and he will be the very best. He can feel it under his skin and in his bones; it’s simply meant to be. He will be better than the plain faced kid pretending to be All Might. 

The dreams do not change until the day he meets Izuku Midoriya. He’s small and timid but Katsuki likes him. Which is rare, as he finds the rest of the kids around his neighborhood not worth his time. And there is something different in Izuku that Katsuki recognizes, something with no real name. I know you.   

(Even with his sharp edges and snark, Katsuki knows Izuku likes him best too.)

Izuku likes All Might and wants to be a hero, just like him. Izuku also knows that the man with the faded scars on his arms in his drawings is not All Might.

“Kacchan, I know that it can’t be him, his hair isn’t the same. Your art is so good too… I think he looks like he’s going to be the next All Might!”

His toothy grins is too much but Izuku is wrong and Katsuki is not sure why.

The dreams are no longer haunted by sadness or the man afterwards. Instead, Katsuki is left staring at the back of a new hero whose face he can never remember in the morning but there is hope taking root in his stomach. He wakes with his hand reaching above him that next morning. That’s his favorite dream. He doesn’t wake up with bile rising in his throat or watery eyes or both. It’s a dream of light and comfort and it occurs more often than the ones before. I’m going to be the hero  is an all too common feeling that swells in his chest in the mornings.

He continues to spend time with Izuku, finding comfort in the consistency of his light and the dreams that follow after their play-dates. He even wins a large All Might bear at the arcade which he gives to Izuku, “Here, I don't want it. I already have a ton of them at home.” He doesn’t but heroes are kind and Katsuki will be a hero. Even the park is fun when they race to the swings and compete to see who can reach highest while one of their mothers watches from afar. Izuku, who is smaller, never reaches as high but Katsuki never mentions it. It’s usually a tie anyways.

He is happy to have a friend like Izuku. He even trusts to tell him about the strange dreams one night. Izuku stares wide-eyed, clutching the large bear to his chest, “Could that be your quirk, Kacchan?”

“Ofcourse not, Izu-chan. My quirk is going to be amazing! They're just stupid weird dreams from all the All Might movies we’ve watched.”

The dreams can’t be a quirk when his blood is boiling for more and he can’t be a hero if all he has are weird dreams of an All Might wannabe and a legacy he can’t decypher. He is only four afterall.

Yet, neither the happiness nor the dreams last forever.

A year later, his quirk manifests itself with sparks and flames. His mother says his sweat is Ni-tro-gly-ce-rine and that’s what makes the small explosions, he repeats. He has a powerful quirk and he smiles all teeth as Izuku watches with amazement painted across his face.

“Kacchan, you’re so strong!”

Katsuki laughs because that's obvious . There is no one else like him and he's going to be the best hero, just like All Might. He begs his mother to let Izuku stay the night in celebration.

Their parents agree to last minute sleepover and Izuku easily falls asleep beside him, the blankets piled over him and a movie playing quietly near them. He rolls his eyes but doesn’t pull the sheets from him, Izuku always ends up hogging the blankets whether or not Katsuki takes them from him.  

He dreams of the same world but this time, the clouded haze over the hero is lifted. He's older but the freckles are spread across the same spots and it’s a smile he would recognize anywhere. The scars on his arm are bright with familiarity and Katsuki wakes up in cold sweat and shoves Izuku out of his bed, screaming himself hoarse. Izuku doesn’t understand but he’s crying because Kacchan is in pain . His mother reasons it’s a nightmare but Katsuki cannot bring himself to reason that it’s just a dream.

Izuku Midoriya will undeniably become the best hero of their time .

The feelings in his chest and in his heart are too real. The disappointment and the anger and the betrayal. He doesn’t stop screaming until Izuku is taken into another room and his hands hurt from the amount of sparks he’s let out.

The next time they meet, his hands are sparking again and quirkless Izuku flinches. Katsuki has too many questions that he knows Izuku doesn’t know the answers to. The small tear in their friendship splits open, bleeding with rage and fear but it’s too late. Izuku has taken the fate Katsuki wanted so badly and branded it his own. So he does the only thing he can think of.

Why do you get to be the hero when that’s all I’ve ever dreamed about when you don’t even have a quirk?

“You’re just a useless Deku.”

Katsuki is haunted by that dream every year on the anniversary of his quirk.

Chapter Text

Katsuki tells no one else about his dreams.

His growing hotheaded nature keeps others from asking too many questions about the bags under his eyes and he avoids Deku on those days where the bags are the most obvious. The losers from his class are annoying since all they do is follow him so often. They’re talentless and ordinary with shitty quirks anyways. They aren’t any competition for him.  

So he starts to spend a lot of his time at the library. He checks out every book he can find on quirks and the librarian never bats an eye at his narrow eyes and permanently sneering face. She always looks at him uninterestedly but let’s him get away with an extra book. With the constant stream of books, he’s forced to teach himself some of the harder books. Sometimes, he has to ask his father about the more complex words he can’t decypher. Masaru smiles and explains as simply as he can manage, the fact that Katsuki is so interested in quirks passed off as an interest in his own quirk development.

Most of the books just discuss the limits of the human body under quirks. He reads things like the nature of quirks and their impact on the bodies of the users. The recoil of his own quirk tires his arms and sometimes, his arms feel numb after consistent explosions for long periods of times. He doesn’t mind. Yet none of the books mention future-type quirks or dream-quirks beyond theories. Things like quirks being more physical-based or the philosophical debate of whether fate exists. There are no mentions of clairvoyants, with the exception of Sir Nighteye. But even studying the videos of All Might’s sidekick, he knows that it’s not what he’s looking for. The quirk is too short lasting and closer to the current.

He gives up trying to find the answer. There’s no real proof that his dreams foretell the future. There is only the deep feeling in his bones that he doesn’t know if he can trust.

He survives on minimal hours of sleep as he arrives to his last year of middle school. The dreams are not as often as when he was a child, they’re much more sparse, most are repeats or variations of past dreams. But the paranoia that there could be a worse dream is permanent. His quirk grows more powerful as he trains himself daily, pushing past the numbness in his arms after the workouts. It’s stupid but he refuses to give up. Deku remains quirkless. Being near him sets every nerve on fire and Katsuki just wants to fucking hit him.

As the monotone lectures lull him until he’s half asleep, Katsuki pretends he can’t see dim strings of light intertwining on his fingers at the corner of his eyes. They crawl down the desk and disappear out the classroom door. Some fainter, others brighter. But the brightest string always wraps itself at his pinky and leads him straight to Deku.

 Deku who always looks back at him at the right time, with soft worried eyes, “You didn't sleep well, Kacchan.”

He doesn't understand. He learns to hide the sparks in his hand under his desk to wake himself. The lights vanish and Katsuki growls.

“You don’t know shit about me, Deku.”

He’s the harshest on those days. Explodes one of Deku’s notebooks on the way out. The numb feelings in his fingers do not go unnoticed but it does take him even longer to fall asleep later on.

One night, he dreams that he’s drowning in darkness. He tries to claw his way out but it spreads across his body, pulling him under. It gets on his face, covering his mouth, and he can't breathe - stretching his hand as far as it can go for anyone -

A hand grabs him and he’s pulled out of his dream, breathing hard. He manages to keep the contents of his stomach where they are. This is the first nightmare he’s felt in years but it leaves him agitated and ready for a fight that might be coming. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know when or if it even will happen.

And then, the proof he has been avoiding finds him.

A month later, he sneering, dumping another notebook filled with Hero notes into the pond, “You can just hope you're born with a quirk in the next life, Deku.” Because I will burn the brightest in this one .

But when the slime monster is crawling over him and taking him whole, he thinks about Deku. Katsuki has explosions at his fingertips but that won’t breathe air into his lungs. Deku, weak and quirkless, would probably also suffocate. But he’d atleast smile. Neither of them would get out of this situation alive.

So when he looks up at the feet pounding across the pavement and its fucking Deku, hurling his backpack towards the villain and digging his hands into the slime covering his mouth, that stupid smile is there. Wobbly and terrified.

“Because Kacchan looked like he was asking for help,” Deku trembles, “I couldn’t stop myself."

Katsuki ignores the part of him that thinks to itself: I don't deserve a quirk in the next life .

He remembers the outstretched hand when he was younger, soaked in the river and on bruised knees. Deku jumped after him and gave him the same smile and Katsuki just knows.

“Fuck off, shitty nerd. I had it under control.”

All he wants to do is scream. Until he dreams something else, another future, he won't stop. He will be the best because that is what it means to be a hero. And now, Katsuki Bakugou knows three things for certain:

The first being the dreams tell him things that will eventually come to pass. Even if they don't make any sense.

The second thing is that if the dream changed once, than it can be change again.

The last thing Katsuki realizes is that it would have been easier to accept it being anyone else.

(Because Deku wasn’t supposed to be his rival.)

Ten months later, when Deku walks into his class at UA, he’s foaming at the mouth. But his heart freezes in his throat when he sees the raw power behind Deku’s fist.

He dedicates himself to more hours of training, ignoring the worried looks his mother sends him or the concern written on his father's face. The dreams haven’t occurred again since the slime monster incident and even the repeats don’t happen. He dreams in limbo.

-

“Katsuki, you’re pushing too hard,” His mother corners him after school. He avoids looking at her and instead, stares at a specific spot on the wall behind her head. He pretends the hand on his shoulder doesn't weigh like a two ton truck and that his arms aren't numb at his fingertips.

“I'm fucking fine, okay? I just haven't been sleeping well.”

Mitsuki laughs, “I don't remember you ever sleeping well since you were born. You woke up crying so often, I wasn't sure what to do. You seemed to outgrow the nightmares but you still don't fucking sleep.” Her face turns serious, "We can see a doctor if you need anything, you know that right?"

Katsuki looks at her this time and shakes his head, tired. "I'm fine, okay? I promise. I've been working on it. Just some stupid shit at school."

“You can tell me anything, you little shit. I love you.” She softens her gaze and kisses his forehead. 

He lets out a deep sigh and gives the smallest of smiles. He’s so tired of these weird fucked up dreams or visions but he refuses to give in, he's going to sleep for ten hours tonight.

"Yeah, I know old hag. I know." It almost sounds affectionate.

Chapter Text

“Hey Bakugou,” Kirishima gives him a smile, “Welcome to the land of the living.”

The string between them, glittering sharp against the sun, dissolves as Katsuki blinks up at him, “Fuck, Shitty hair. Are we late to class?”

He shakes his head, “Nah, Midoriya told me to come get you before lunch ends. You were pretty knocked out but you did manage a clean punch.” He rubs at his shoulder, “You were saying stuff, though. Dreaming?”

Katsuki glares at him, “Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten so close, eh? ‘Course I was, I was asleep.”

It’s a relief that sinks into his tired muscles and his clenched jaw. The calm afterglow of an uneventful sleep is enough for Katsuki to punch Kirishima on the other shoulder lightly as he gets up to his feet. The redhead stares with big eyes and watches Katsuki walk away.

“Are you coming, shitty hair?” He doesn’t look back at him as he says this, but Kirishima smiles brightly at him. “We’ve got that Battle Trial with All Might.”

“Hell yeah!” Katsuki can hear it in his voice, too. 

His costume is perfect. It’s exactly everything he wanted to say about himself: explosive and powerful. The gauntlets weigh heavy on his arms but the power he’ll save makes up for it.  All Might gives them the thousand watt smile and he’s suddenly paired with Glasses as villains. Their opponents end up being Deku and Round Face as the heroes. He’s in a such a good mood, he just wants to crush Deku and set his world completely on fire He ignores Iida’s protests and they end up with a make-shift plan, letting him go on the offense.

“Bakugou-san, I still don’t believe this is a good idea,” Iida’s voice crackles over his earpiece and Katsuki grunts.

“You can handle Round Face, I’ll just keep Deku on his toes.”

It’s not a fair game, he knows that. At least, not the game between Deku and him, as he steps into their path. Deku shoves Uraraka down a different hallway and drops to the floor immediately to dodge one of Katsuki’s blasts.

“Kacchan!” It rings in his head and he just gives Deku a sinister smile.

“Are you ready, Deku? ‘Cause I’m coming for you.”

He sprints forward and slams into him, hard and throws all his weight into it. They stumble and Deku tries to scramble away. Katsuki grabs the back of his rabbit-like costume and slams him against the wall. His gauntlets fizzle and he lets out an explosion near his shoulder. Deku screams.

“Bakugou.” All Might warns him in his ear.

It really isn’t fair. Deku has never fought with his fists and using his quirk isn't as easy as breathing like it is for Katsuki, who is fueled by rage and ruin. Deku can’t beat him if he has to break something so Katsuki decides to break him instead.  Deku manages to kick at his knee and for a second, he loses his footing before Deku kicks up again. It connects with his chin and Katsuki’s head snaps back. He growls and blasts a hit towards Deku’s leg. It scrapes his side and Deku hisses, skin burning. He tosses Deku across the floor easily.

He prowls towards Deku, who's back on feet, and Katsuki rushes forward to throw him over his shoulder. He misjudges the grab as Deku does the same and uses the force against him. Katsuki slams onto the floor hard and he knows he’s going to be feeling that for a while.

He sparks another explosion as a warning when he's  back on his feet and Deku flinches, breathing heavily against the wall.

“Kacchan, why are you like this?” He lets out a breathless laugh, “Always so focused on your goals to notice anything or anyone else.”

“You have to watch out for yourself stupid Deku,” he hisses, “or someone might take your dreams.”

Deku face twists in confusion but settles on a grimace. They've hit the end of the hallway and Deku isn’t in any shape to continue but he does. He always does . Katsuki huffs and aims another explosion towards his other shoulder.  Deku drops and rolls again, face scrunched in pain and his fist powers up. Katsuki growls and his own palm flares with higher intensity. He expects Deku to rush him as a last effort to land a hit but like always, Deku surprises him. “Uraraka, now!” He punches the bearby wall and crumbles to the floor. Katsuki curses and lets the blast that built up release above them.

“Did it work, Uraraka?” Deku mumbles on his back, eyes hazy. Katsuki stands above him and stares. The walls are cracked and roof above them barely holds on.

“The heroes emerge victorious!” All Might crackles in their ears and Deku gives Katsuki a cheeky grin. He growls. 

“How did you know I wouldn't have hit you with the last blast?”

“I didn’t. I just believed in you, Kacchan.” Dekus grin softens, “You’re too prideful to hit your enemy when they’re already down.”

Deku breathing is uneven as he slips unconscious, his arm is broken, and his burnt shoulder most likely dislocated. Katsuki just wants to go back to sleep.

The real warning comes after a week of sleeping real hours, ice packs, and empty dreams. There’s a swirl of darkness that appears at the horizon and Katsuki sees blood and dust. There’s a shadow of a large creature looming over him and one eye burns against the dark. A gloved hand reaches out to grab him by the wrist and he’s screaming. He hears the punch without seeing Deku and everything settles back into an eerie silence.

Katsuki wakes up with a scream caught in his throat and his mother’s hands on his shoulders. He rips off the covers, dashing into the bathroom, as his dinner crawls up his throat.

“Katsuki.” She comes up behind him with a towel with a heavy sigh, “You didn’t grow out of it, did you?”

He doesn’t let himself cry but he does let her wipe his face. “It’s not usually this bad. I can usually handle it, yanno.”

Mitsuki ’s frown deepens, “Do you want to talk about it? With me?”

He shakes his head.

“Do you want to talk about it in the morning?”

He shakes his head again.

“Promise me,” She grabs his chin and forces him to look at her, “That you will talk to someone. Even if it’s not me. You should see a professional - but I know you’re stubborn. Just talk to anyone. Recovery Girl, Izuku, one of your friends.”

“Fuck,” Katsuki swallows, “I’ll- I’ll try.”

He doesn’t talk to anyone. He’s not even sure how to tell someone, ‘hey some fucked up shit is probably going to happen eventually.’ The information he knows has no time-stamp or date set. Nothing he can say would be useful because fucked up shit happens all too often.

It’s not until even a week later, where Aizawa announces the trip to USJ. They’re rounded up into a bus and Kirishima manages to snatch the seat next to Katsuki with a grin. Katsuki rolls his eyes and watches the window.

“Are you excited?” Kirishima tries out, half-ready for an explosion.

He looks even more unsure when Katsuki gives him an actual answer, “Not really. I already outclass most of these extras. Not like it’s a real fucking challenge.”

“That’s really,” Kirishima isn’t too sure how to word it without risking death, “not manly. You shouldn’t say that, Bakugou. We’re here to get stronger!”

“Shitty hair,” He starts with a growl, but holds back, “I’m already strong. Don’t need to waste my damn time with some of this shit.”

Kirishima slouches a bit with a pout when Katsuki closes his eyes and leans his head against the window.    

“I’m not trying to ignore you,” he says without opening his eyes, “Fuck it, just wake me up if no one else talks to you.”

That is definitely unexpected but Kirishima grins again, “Alright, Bakugou. I’ll wake you up when we’re almost there.”

The thanks is quiet but Kirishima’s close enough to catch it. Just like he catches Midoriya glancing back at them with concern. He smiles and gives him a thumbs up. Midoriya smiles back.

Katsuki wakes to a hand on his shoulder but keeps his eyes closed until he’s fully awake. There was no dream, so he probably hasn’t slept long. If he could run on only short naps, Katsuki would. He thinks for a moment that Deku would have probably had this quirk figured out to the teeth - not because he’s smarter than Katsuki. Deku has just been watching heroes much more intently than Katsuki ever did.

But he’d never ask him.

USJ is nothing grand and Katsuki tunes out for the majority of the lecture, but he’s the first to see the darkness swirling at the base of the auditorium. Villains crawl through and the falling feeling in his stomach is obvious. Aizawa leaps towards the center to keep them at bay but the Warp Gate villain catches them before Thirteen can get them out. So, he does what he does best. He wears a sneer and catches sparks on his fingertips.

“Stay back!” Thirteen yells but Katsuki and Kirishima are too cocky, too eager for a fight. They're already on the villain as it slips between them. They fight and weave through the mist but there is nothing solid to hit.

“The center, Kacchan!” It's always Deku.

He aims and the mist is pushed back far enough for him to catch the metal piece hidden under. Katsuki leaps for it and he wraps his hand on it and angry eyes turn to him.

“Move it and lose it.” He smirks. He catches movement in the corner of his eye and Iida makes it out the door.

The villain gives a laugh, “I don't think so.”  The darkness smoke stretches around them and swallows everyone whole. Katsuki ends up with Kirishima in one of the rescue area, villains circling them. He growls and Kirishima raises his hands in defense, “It wasn't me!”

They make their way through the villains as they clear the building. They're small fry and Katsuki doesn't break a sweat while Kirishima explains to him that dogs are the best and how he wants twenty. Katsuki knocks out the last guy before  Birdface and the quiet kid spot them and Kirishima waves them over. They can barely see the center where Aizawa was battling but they catch a blast of water at the lake and soon after, a burst of electricity from another field.

“Looks like we all got dumped in different areas,” Kirishima wonders out loud, “but they didn't bother to find out our quirks.”

Katsuki huffs, “As if that would help them.”

Koda makes a face and Katsuki falls back, letting Kirishima drown out the silence with his rambling as make their way down the area.  

Birdface walks at his pace beside him, “You do not sleep well, Bakugou-san.” It isn’t a question.

Katsuki doesn't look at him, “That's none of your business.”

“I apologize. I wanted to mention it in case you were interested in some teas i can recommend you. They won't keep the nightmares away but you will feel more at ease in the mornings.”

He doesn't say anything for a while before he looks up, “Yeah. Okay. That would be… real fucking great.” He grumbles the last part and Birdface laughs lightly, nodding.

Katsuki almost ends up stumbling into Kirishima who steadies him. He brushes him off and looks down at the battle ahead. They're close, most of the villains are past out around them.  Aizawa is crushed under the large flesh creature who twitches. But there's a hand on frog girls face and Aizawa’s eyes are burning. The creature stomps on another arm but he does not look away.

Deku takes a moment before flicking the hand away from her and the two of them are suddenly the center of attention. Within a split second, the creature is standing over Deku and there's a scream caught in his throat. 

“We need to help them,” Kirishima hisses first but Katsuki is already ahead of the plan.

“Let’s make some fucking noise then.” 

He didn't see the creature move and knows they don't stand a chance. But Katsuki only wins. He doesn't bat an eye as he clears the villains that get in his way until he is standing over Aizawa, who's watching him with a single eye. His bones are in pieces and there's so much blood, Katsuki wants to throw up. He looks up and Frog girl bounces away with the purple shrimp. Behind him, he can hear more of his classmates joining the fight. 

Deku throws a heavy punch and, “He can absorb-” The creature has him by the throat before he can finish the thought.

“You fight really familiar, kid.” The villain with the hands stares, “What's your quirk?” He scratches at his neck harder.   Deku can't answer, he can't breath, and Katsuki can only watch - his own breathing quickening and Deku catches his eye. His hands spark uncontrollably. A voice rings out above them, “Have no fear,” All Might smiles, “I’m here.” Everything slows to a stop as the villains look up. The creature throws Deku aside hard, towards Katsuki and they stumble together across the concrete.

There's burning at the back of his throat and he thinks of the darkness. He thinks of the suffocating dreams. He thinks of Izuku Midoriya. But Deku is breathing heavy on his chest and his eyes are burning, “It's okay Kaachan. Breathe deeply, you're fine, I’ve got you.”

Katsuki wonders if he should’ve told someone.

Chapter Text

He wakes up slowly, sluggish and his head is killing him. Katsuki hisses as he stretches his arms above his head. His jaw feels sore from clenching it in his sleep. Deku is passed out on the chair beside the bed and Recovery Girl smiles at him from her desk.

“You gave Midoriya quite a fright,” She smiles, “He was so distracted by you that the adrenaline kept him going until after the fight was over.”

He looks back at Deku, lightly snoring and shoulder wrapped in bandages. He doesn’t reach out to him.  Recovery Girl watches him, coming to his side and plants a kiss on his head. He scrunches his nose but nods his heads in thanks.

“I can’t do much for you but that should help the soreness. I can recommend you some psychologists if you’d like? My quirk only recovers physical injuries, Bakugou. Your mental health isn’t something as easily fixed. If you’re having panic attacks, you should see someone.”

“I’m fine.” Katsuki repeats, as he has always. “Can you… Do you have anything for sleep?”

She frowns, “I can give you some over the counter recommendations but you will have to see a doctor for a prescription.” She turns and grabs a small envelope with Bakugou scrawled on it. “Tokoyami left this for you after everything settled.” He takes it, dropping it in his lap. The various bags of teas neatly sorted by flavors makes him want to smile. 

“You have some good friends, Bakugou. I know for a fact that Kirishima stayed with Midoriya until you were brought here. They care for you.”  

He leans back and closes his eyes again. “They aren’t friends.”

“Well, you certainly say strange things. You tell me you’re fine but I can clearly see signs of trauma. You don’t sleep well. You strain yourself beyond your limits and there will eventually be consequences.” She taps her chin with her pen, “You are not the first nor will you be the last, but you are definitely among the most stubborn.”

Katsuki clenches his fists so hard, it hurts. “It’s not that I’m not stubborn. I am fine, even like this. I’ve been this way for a while. I don’t need anyone’s help. I’ve got it under control.”

“Bakugou, you will be an amazing hero.” Recovery Girl smiles, “But you will be an even greater hero when you realize what you are missing.” She pats his cheek, “I have to head to the hospital. Aizawa is stable but I need to be nearby to help. Feel free to leave when you’d like.”

He doesn’t move for a while. Katsuki just sits and watches Deku. He thinks of the panic and the suffocating feeling that rose in his chest. There too much soreness and the bitter taste isn’t something Katsuki is ready to confront. He gets up and scuffs Deku over the head, watching him blink up at him like an idiot.

“Kacchan? How are you feeling?” The concern is so obvious. He thinks Deku is the bigger fool between them.

“C’mon Deku.”

He follows him home, quietly. Always a few steps behind him as if there’s an invisible wall that stops him from getting too close- the wall that is Katsuki.  He notices the bruising on Deku’s neck and says nothing.  They split up at the end of their street and Deku doesn’t ask any of the questions Katsuki can see on his face.

His mother leaves a collection of pamphlets ranging from sleep disorders to PTSD across his bed and Katsuki throws them to the floor. He sleeps well that night, drinking one of the tea packets right before. The week continues as solemn as he could have guessed.

Aizawa is in the hospital but stable. Deku’s bruising lingers and Katsuki’s shoulder is only slightly sore. His classmates also linger, quieter. It’s difficult to say they were the same class as before but they weren’t, not really. Most of them dreamed about being heroes but not many can say they have fought tooth and nail against a villain at fifteen.

Kirishima keeps bringing him sweets to his nap spot and waits with him while he sleeps, playing quietly on his phone. Deku never joins them, but he’ll occasionally pass by and wave at Kirishima. The only ones who come to sit with them is Tokoyami, who always brings a book and finds the tallest spot to read, and Ashido, who keeps Kirishima company. She watches him on his phone and laughs at cute pictures he shows her.

He doesn’t realize the strange emptiness it fills.

The Sports festival arrives without a hitch. He has no dreams, no visions, so he sleeps better than he has since he was a child. The taste of victory is overwhelming in his mouth when he wakes up. As always, it’s never as satisfying as he wants it to be.

Deku wins the race with his reckless antics. The cavalry battle lands him second place, with Kirishima, Ashido, and Sero. Tokoyami manages to get Deku’s team in fourth place. There is an overwhelming feeling like pride in his chest but he ignores it.

The battle tournament is what Katsuki is waiting for. He’s brutal and unrelenting as is Uraraka even though he can already hear Kirishima scolding him about being too hard on her. But Round Cheeks is untapped raw power and nothing would upset him more than if his opponent didn’t take him serious. He can see the same look in her eyes and gives her every inch of power he can muster.

When he wins, she’s earned his respect. One day, she might have a chance of taking him down. For now, she gives him a half smile and wipes away the blood from her mouth. He settles to watch Deku fight the General Studies Raccoon. The weird kid baits Deku and the idiot actually responds. Katsuki immediately wants to throttle both of them. So when the cocky shit tells Deku to turn around and walk out of bounds, Kirishima physically has to restrain him.

But Deku pauses before the line. Everyone holds their breath and they wait. He stands normally and Katsuki recognizes the twitch when he sees it. It's a memory of a six year old Deku facing Katsuki with shaking fists and eyes full of determination. He breaks himself out of the mind control with a flick of a finger. The rest of the class break into cheers and Deku runs the kid off the field.

He doesn’t pay attention to the rest of the matches until it’s his turn again. His next opponent is Kirishima, who doesn’t stand a chance against the consistent explosions Katsuki musters. When he knocks him out of the ring, Kirishima laughs breathlessly, “I made it to you, right?”  

Katsuki kicks his shoe lightly, “You did well.” Kirishima almost chokes and chalks it up to delusions.

This time, he watches Deku again. Half-and-half has the upper hand with his control but Deku is Deku. The only way he will win is if he uses the full extent of his quirk. Todoroki uses his ice consistently and Deku is running out of fingers to break. Deku still decides to give him the bullshit speech that no one hears and he breaks his already broken bones. The cement wall that rises doesn’t stop the complete obliteration of the field.

When the smoke clears, Todoroki is breathing hard and Deku is motionless on the ground. Katsuki watches them clear the field and he knows that it was not Todoroki who won that fight. Looking at Todoroki’s face, he knows it as well.    

Tokoyami is his last opponent before the final fight. It’s not a fair match up, his explosions are a complete counter to Dark Shadow but Katsuki is breathing heavy by the end of it. Birdbrain nods at the loss and Dark Shadow huffs in annoyance.

The last battle is between Half-and-half and him. He’s grounded and ready but Todoroki is not. He’s confused and moves uncertain. Katsuki easily wipes the floor with him, urging him to use his fire. As quickly as the flames appear, they disappear. Katsuki sucker punches him out of the ring.

“If you aren’t willing to give it your all, you don’t have what it takes to be a hero,” Katsuki hisses.

He wins first place and his prize seems to be walking home with Deku again. His hands are bandaged but healing. Kirishima managed to dump too many sweets in his hands before they left so he makes Deku carry some. He doesn't ask for them back when they get to their street but Deku smiles, "You did really well today, Kacchan. As expected from you!" 

He says nothing back. That night, Katsuki dreams of nothing but there's a sinking feeling of something bigger coming. Something much worse.   

Chapter Text

Unsurprisingly, Katsuki lands the most offers in the class. He doesn’t care for almost all of them, the majority being pro heroes looking to spice up their standings or impress students with their agency. He has offers from dozens of heroes in his area but none of them are what he's looking for. 

He immediately picks the highest ranking Pro out of the bunch - Best Jeanist. When he hands his choice into Aizawa, his teacher gives him an uncomfortable smile that does nothing to settle his nerves. Aizawa hands him some paper work and Katsuki avoids looking at him directly. 

Kirishima furrows his eyebrows at him when he returns to his seat, “Are you sure? You’re not going to do any research before? You might find someone who suits you better… Best Jeanist doesn't seem your style.”

Katsuki huffs, “Listen Shitty-hair. I only want to work with the best because I’m going to be the best. Got it?”

He can see the frown deepen on the redhead’s face and Mina pats him on the back. “ Lord Explosion Murder only works with the best, Kiri! Don’t waste your breath.”

“Fuck you, you pink furry!” He snaps his teeth at her and she bursts into laughter.

“That’s Alien Queen to you!”

Kirishima shakes his head, half in despair. Katsuki looks over at Deku from the corner of his eye who's staring down at the single slip of paper with a small smile. He doesn’t ask him about it. Not many pro heroes want an intern who breaks his bones using his quirk, he would be a liability. But Deku has heart, too much in fact.  

He waves his goodbye instead, “See you losers next week.”

Even though the train ride to Tokyo is calming, the first day of the internship is the worst. Best Jeanist is clearly the biggest mistake out of the many Katsuki has under his belt. He lectures him constantly, acts like he's so much better than him, and he's too pretentious for Katsuki's taste. 

"You do seem the type to name yourself some kind of nonsense like ‘King Explosion Murder’ as you seem to be such an angry child.” Best Jeanist gives him a pointed look, “You can’t even think of a mature name for yourself that matches you and your quirk. Something like, ‘Ground Zero’ would be much more suitable.”

Katsuki grinds his teeth to the point where he's probably going to need a dentist.

“You need to do something with your hair and your clothing. Also, your personality needs work. You aren’t going to be a likable hero if you don’t tone your hostility down quite a few notches. The look doesn’t sell the hero as much if you can’t tolerate the people you save.”

“That shit doesn’t matter! If you’re the strongest, then it doesn’t matter!” He finally snaps, half spitting with a growl.

“Oh really?” Best Jeanist raises an eyebrow, “Tell me then. Why is All Might the number one hero?”

“Because he’s obviously the strongest!”

“See, you’re only half-right. All Might could have a quarter of his strength and he would most likely still be the number one hero. Do you know why?”

He can't think of a response so he says nothing, swallowing hard.

“I wonder, do you inspire hope, Bakugou? Or fear?” Best Jeanist turns away and snaps his fingers at someone, “Get his hair done and a pair of jeans.”

Katsuki doesn’t argue. He doesn’t complain as they pull at his hair and force him to a tight pair of jeans. He keeps his jaw clenched and says nothing. Later that night, Katsuki scratches out his hero name on his form and replaces it with Ground Zero .

The week continues the same. Best Jeanist picks at his stray hairs or his aggressive stance. He teaches him to stand less intimidating and more grounded. Katsuki watches him talk to other heroes and to the public with an ease that seems unattainable to him.  Their first patrol is a disaster. Katsuki scares every person who gets near enough before Best Jeanist forces him to relax his expression. Children don’t come near them but they point and whisper to each other. He holds back the urge to snap his teeth at them.

Kirishima and Mina text him pictures of their own internships. Kirishima with the metal kid he recognizes from the festival. Mina sends a picture of Kaminari knocked out during a lunch break. She sends him pictures of her and Kirishima making faces together. Even Tokoyami sends him a picture of an angry looking bird with a single text of 'You'. He doesn’t reply but he never notices the smile that sneaks onto his face.

“I see you do have some charm, other than your complete confidence in yourself.” Best Jeanist points out the first time he sees it. Katsuki blushes and sneers in response.

When they watch the news about the Hero Killer with grim expressions and he wonders if Deku is watching it too. 

On the last day of his internship, Best Jeanist calls him to his office. He watches Katsuki shift his weight from one leg to the other and his hair strains under the weight of the gel, itching to curl in all directions. Katsuki tries his best not to scowl. 

“You have what it takes and I do not regret inviting you here, even though you are nothing of the type of hero I want in my agency.” Best Jeanist says, “I know you will one day be one of the best. This is goodbye for now, Explodo King.”

“It’s Ground Zero, sir.” Katsuki grunts. 

Best Jeanist pulls down his jean collar and smiles all teeth.

He dreams of his hands on fire, the same feeling that Recovery Girl has warned him will damage his hands beyond repair one day, and broken spines. It’s not a nightmare but it’s sits in the back of his head like a heavy stone.

The first he notices when he walks into class is an off look in Deku’s eyes when he looks up at him. Aizawa steps into the class before he can ponce and rushes them out to more basic hero training.  

He can see the improvement in everyone. Kirishima is stronger and Mina is quicker with her acid. Tokoyami is still just as quick and uses Dark Shadow with more ease. But Deku, Deku comes alive with veins of energy. Even if he fucks it up at the end, Katsuki can see the leap he’s crossed with his shit quirk.

Katsuki, on the opposite end, feels no real progress with his strength. Even though he reaches the center first on his turn, he doesn’t feel different. Yet the look Kirishima gives him when he gets back to the waiting area is too much.

“Hey shitty hair,” Katsuki lightly hits his chest, “You’re getting stronger.”

Kirishima looks like he's going to burst of happiness.

Chapter Text

Everything sinks back into its usual routine. Kirishima and Mina laugh quietly to themselves as Katsuki drops back into his light nap. The only difference is Deku dragging Glasses and Round-face to eat outside. They talk quietly among themselves on the benches and Uraraka laughs at something Iida says. Even without opening his eyes, Katsuki knows Deku is watching him. He can’t avoid him forever. There is a look in Deku’s eyes that he doesn’t recognize and an uncomfortable feeling sinks into his bones. He’s safe until the bell rings and when he tries to rush out the door, it’s too late.

“Wait,” Deku catches his sleeve. “Kacchan!”

Katsuki growls and shakes off the hand, “What, fucking Deku?”

He smiles with his stupid shaky smile that makes Katsuki want to blow his face up. “Can we walk home together?”  

“Whatever nerd.”

The walk home is quiet and Deku keeps up with his speed. He's holding back and Katsuki finally snaps. 

“What is it, Deku?” It comes out cruel and he regrets it the moment Deku finches away slightly.

“Kacchan, have you...” Deku breathes in deep, “Have you talked to anyone?”

Katsuki frowns and slows to a stop, “About what?”

He pictures four year old Izuku Midoriya standing before him. With his bright smile and endlessly hopeful eyes. But it’s a fifteen year old Deku who stands before him now, one arm covered in scars, and his eyes aren’t the same. He doesn’t like it and he wonders who Deku sees before him. The kid who promised to rule the world or the coward who fights everything head on.

“When we fought at USJ, you reacted really strongly.” Deku’s voice brings him back, “You’ve seemed on edge and you're more irritable.”

“Fuck off Deku. I have a handle on my shit, why don’t you mind your own business and worry about your own issues like the scar you got on your hand that no one seems to comment on, huh?” He snarls, pushing Deku. “Or where you even got your shitty quirk that just hurts you!”

“I’m getting better at using it! You can’t blame me for it, I didn’t have ten years to practice, you- you dick!” He snaps back, pushing Katsuki just as hard. “I have been watching you since we were kids! Everything I know about fighting came from you, you jerk. So excuse me if my quirk hurts me since it’s just so shitty ! I’m trying my best to catch up to you so maybe, just maybe, you would stop hating me so much!”

“You’re the dumbass trying to compete with losers who have had their quirk. Instead of controlling your quirk, it seems to control you!” Katsuki snaps. “You are reckless and a self-sacrificing piece of shit! Don’t fucking look down on me just because you got balls now.”

“I'm never looking down on you! I’m trying, Katsuki! I’m trying to get better, I’m trying to improve, I’m trying to work with everyone! You just don’t give a shit about anyone other than yourself!”

Katsuki grabs him and knees him in the groin as Deku scrambles away enough to slugs him across the face, connecting to his nose hard. “Fuck!” He stumbles forward and they fall. He’s sure his nose is gonna bruise and Deku is hunched over, hand over his pants with a pained expressed. “Fuck Deku, you fucking could’ve broken my nose.”

“You could’ve broken my nuts.” Deku hisses back.

Katsuki scrunches up his face, trying to feel out his nose, but when he looks at Deku laying on the ground beside him, he can’t help the laugh. He laughs because there’s something so nostalgic and bittersweet that he didn’t realize he misses when he looks at Deku.

Deku laughs too. “God, can we ever have a conversation without hitting each other?” He snorts and shakes his head, sitting up to look at Katsuki. “I don’t even think we are ever talking about the same thing”

“Fuck you.” There’s no fuel behind it and Katsuki covers his face with his arm, “You’re still an idiot. And I don’t hate you as much as I want too.”

He doesn’t see the look on Deku’s face but he knows he wasn't supposed to hear it. “I know I don’t hate you either... even though sometimes I wonder if I should.”

Katsuki wonders the same thing.

Deku is less intense the next day, happier. Katsuki tries not to notice it so he distracts himself with Kirishima. The redhead smiles at him when he sees him watching, and continues his conversation with Pikachu. Aizawa struts into the classroom, glances at Katsuki's bruised nose, and their new exam forces them against the UA professors. 

As luck has it, he’s teamed with Deku against All Might. He wonders if this is punishment for fighting outside of school.  It’s difficult to swallow his irritation but their scuffle the afternoon is fresh. Deku stares at him sternly and demands Katsuki’s attention.

His plan is decent. It’s probably their best shot. All Might is much too powerful and with how self-destructive they are, they’re more likely to take themselves out before their opponent breaks a sweat. So, he agrees. Easier than expected from the look on Deku’s face.

It’s bloody and a mess. Deku and Katsuki are thrown against each other constantly. Katsuki’s explosions backfire and occasionally hits Deku instead. All Might doesn’t hold back, he’s sure he hears Deku’s spine crack. So, Katsuki does the only thing he can think of. He throws Deku as hard as can towards the gate and turns towards All Might.

The split second of surprise on his face is all Katsuki needs before mustering an explosion past his highest point. He can feel his arms burst with pain and he’s not sure if he can really feel them. He passes out when All Might drops to one knee.

According to Recovery Girl, they won. He’s not sure if Deku crawled his way through the gate or what, but it doesn’t matter. Recovery Girl also warns him that the muscles in his arms have been worn out and the force of the explosion was enough to break the bone clean. His skin was also damaged, especially his palms.

“I don’t believe that’s your limit just yet, Bakugou. You still have more to grow so even though the explosion is too much for you now, you may be able to recreate it later with more experience and practice.” She smiles. “Think of it more as a soft cap for your current self. But do not take that as an invitation to have to see me more often. If you damage too much of the skin, you will have more trouble with your quirk than for what it’s worth.”

Deku sleeps in the next bed, his spine curved naturally once more. Recovery Girl looks over at him as well, “He’ll wake up soon. Will you wake him home? He’s very worn out and I wouldn’t want him to venture home alone.”

Katsuki nods and closes his eyes. They walk home together again, after classes end and Deku is coherent enough to stand. He leads him home and waits for Deku who's barely awake to get inside the apartment. He walks himself home and immediately drops into his bed.

That night he dreams of being swallowed by rage and darkness but this time, when he sees Deku, his body is broken yet he’s still reaching out to him. Katsuki doesn't reach back for his hand, he lets his hand fall instead and he wakes up wanted to explode everything he sees.

Chapter Text

Aizawa announces the field trip the day after and introduces the three older students that stand at the head of the class as their chaperones. The beady eyed kid leans forward, talking more with his hands than his mouth, but he’s familiar. The girl with cotton candy hair nods alongside him and Cowlick stays behind them with a constipated expression.

Katsuki ignores all of them in favor of listening to Midoriya’s breathing behind him. It’s comforting at a level he's not ready to confront just yet. Earlobes catches his eyes and looks at him as if she knows.

It's Midoriya, who’s alive and not broken into pieces, who taps his shoulder when the class ends. Katsuki manages to hold himself back from grabbing at his arm when he walks by his desk with a smile, as if Deku would understand the underlying thank you. Or maybe he's more scared that Deku would understand it.

Instead, he grabs his bag with a clenched fist and heads to the usual spot. Katsuki sits in Kirishima’s spot during lunch and the redhead chokes on his spit when he spots him while Mina giggles. Sero and Kaminari pretend not to notice. They settle around him to eat and his heart feels like it's being squeezed with something close to happiness.

He wants to laugh but stops himself, his face scrunching up weirdly and Kirishima stops, mouth full, “Are you okay, Bakubro?”

“Worry about yourself, Shitty Hair.” He knows he's been too quiet but he's too tired to keep up with them. Mina goes on a rant about the latest Hero Magazines and Kirishima listens while keeping an eye on him, as if Katsuki wouldn’t notice. He rolls his eyes and closes them, listening to their voices drift.

The day goes by uneventful, thankfully. Katsuki pauses by the clinic at the end, but he turns away at the last second, colliding with a body that reaches out to steady him. The raccoon eyed kid from General Studies squints at him.

“I thought I had circles for days, but you look like you haven’t sleep in years.”

“Fuck off, extra.” He snorts, brushing off his shoulder. It’s not really up to him how well his sleep goes, his brain is constantly running on nightmares and fury.

“Recovery Girl probably wouldn’t mind, you look like your dead on your feet anyways.” The kid seems to says more to himself before look up at Katsuki with a bored expression, “Do you have anything important you're doing right now?”

“That’s none of your-” Katsuki’s growl ceases abruptly and his whole body tenses, panic flaring and anxiety twisting in his stomach. Raccoon-Eyes frowns and his eyes narrow.

“I’m going to take that as a no. Now, before you induce a panic attack, I need you to breathe. Alright, now you’re going to turn around, enter the clinic, and fall into dreamless sleep. Someone will wake you to go home.”

His body obeys no matter how much he wants to scream and tackle the fucker, like a cat cornered. Recovery Girl raises an eyebrow when he pushes the door open, “Was that necessary, Shinsou?”

He can't see Raccoon-Eyes as his body collapses onto one the beds and his eyes close. His own breathing regulates and Katsuki is left seething under his skin. I’ll kill him. But he’s calmer, relaxed.

“He looks like he needs it and I want to see if my quirk can do that much on a person. I’ll tell Midoriya before I head home,” There’s a sound like a plastic bag crinkling, “Thank you, Recovery Girl.”

She chuckles, “Thank you.”

“He should really talk to someone. But I guess he’s one of the stubborn ones.”

Katsuki falls asleep to a pen scratching at paper and an old voice singing softly. He dreams of nothing but he wakes half-choked up with tears and Midoriya poking his cheek. The smile he sees as soon as he opens his eyes sparks the memories of two children who wanted the world.

“Kacchan, you looked so peaceful asleep!” He pats at Katsuki’s hair, “It’s so soft!”

Katsuki explodes his pillow before actually tackling him. They land hard on the floor and Midoriya laughs, rubbing at the forming bruise on the elbow he lands on. “Very peaceful, but you looked so sad, Kacchan. Did you have a bad dream?”

He shakes his head and says nothing, not moving from where he’s laying half on the floor.

“Well,” Midoriya's expression softens, “The bus leaves tomorrow morning for the weekend. Make sure you pack your camping stuff! Also anything else you can think of, that we might need. Aizawa didn’t tell us a lot but he’s bringing the upperclassmen from today! I don’t know if you’ve seen them before, but they’re apparently the best at U.A!”

Katsuki rolls his eyes, getting to his feet. “Deku, I heard the spiel already. I don’t need to hear it again.” He rolls his shoulders back, “And I’m going to be the best at U.A. You don’t need to watch those three losers. They’ll be nothing compared to me.”

Deku smiles, “I guess you’re right. But I’ll be right behind you - and I’ll surpass even you, Kacchan.”

I know, Katsuki doesn’t say. He does say, “Yeah, in your dreams. Let’s go.”

They walk home together, Midoriya chattering aimlessly about Lemillion and they pretend the distance between them is as large as it used to be.

Katsuki dreams of Deku again, as if he expected anyone else. He dreams of Deku breaking his limbs, all over again. Always reaching out for him.

But on the bus ride, at 5 a.m, he sits beside Midoriya and pretends the wary expression he wears doesn’t hurt. Uraraka and Iida sit in the seats across from them. Behind, Mina knocks out immediately against the window and Kirishima sits with his arms folded, dozing off. Everyone else is along the same lines, barely function. Aizawa takes up two seats, asleep, at the front of the bus. Beside him, Cowlick plays on his phone, squeezed between Beady Eyes and Cotton Candy. Midoriya is vibrating with excitement and nerves as Tokoyami keeps him entertained.

Katsuki leans against his own window and settles on watching the sunrise bleed across the sky.

Chapter Text

The bus pulls to a stop and Aizawa stands, still wrapped in his bright yellow sleeping bag.

“Alright, well listen up. To be heroes, you need to learn to work in teams. Every one of you has your specialties but you can’t brute force your way through every situation,” He glares at Katsuki, “Or sacrifice yourself for anyone.” His eyes roll over to Midoriya. “We don’t call All Might when the building is merely a breath away from collapsing and we don’t call me when a fire is spreading, or for anything really. Unless they really need me .”

Kirishima snorts quietly behind Katsuki, “Aizawa would just wanna be called for a sleep-quirk situation. Maybe then he’ll be freed from this torture.” Mina tries to smother her giggles and Midoriya hides a smile. Glasses looks appalled while Round-face gives the redhead a cheesy grin. 

“For this test, we’re pairing you up.” The beady eyed kid stands and lifts two sets of ribbons, red and blue. “If you’re red, blindfold up. If you’re blue, you're not allowed to move or use your quirk as soon as you start! So no flying or sliding around, you can use your limbs as necessary but the point is to count on your partner to be your legs.”

Cotton-Candy smiles, “We’ll keep an eye on you all but if you’re confident enough, you can pass on your own if you are willing to leave your partner behind.”

Katsuki can already feel the eyes on him and he glares at the blue haired girl.

“Togata will be watching over Ashido and Kirishima, Iida and Jiro, and Mineta with Aoyama.” Aizawa announces, “Hado will be next with Shoji and Uraraka, Sero and Todoroki, and Ojiro with Hagakure.” Cotton-Candy bats her eyes. “Last, Amajiki is on Asui and Yaoyorozu, Tokoyami and Kaminari, and Koda with Sato.” Everyone pauses and looks at the leftover pair, Katsuki rolls his eyes and Midoriya tries to convince the bus seat to swallow him whole. “I’ll unfortunately be watching the two of you.”

Cowlick clears his throat and almost trips over Beady-Eyes. “We, um, tried to pair you with someone who’s quirk would classify in a different category from your own, or at least from your style of fighting. Some of you offer more offense-type quirks while others would be better at defense. A few of you would more efficient as rescue or sabotage.” He looks down and blushes, “Not that all of you are confined to that category, most of you cross between two or more categories so I tried to split it evenly from what I’ve- I’ve seen from you guys.”

“Tamaki did a great job,” Cowlick smiles, “He tried to pair you up with someone who makes up for your limitations or would require you to think creatively to function as one unit!”

“There are creatures around so you can decide to fight or sneak past them. Remember you aren’t wearing your hero costumes. It doesn’t matter which you decide to do. You pass if you make it to the center camp. So get out and grab your ribbon from whoever is keeping you alive.” Aizawa says dryly.

The class erupts with excitement. It takes a few minutes for everyone to slip out of the bus but the sight of the valley is breathtaking. Katsuki breathes deeply and Kirishima yells down from the edge of the cliff, down to the clearing. At the center of the thick forest, the UA camp stands tall.

“We’ve got the Pussycats watching over the area too, so nothing should go wrong.” Aizawa grunts from the side of the bus before muttering under his breath, “With this class, we need all the help we can get.”

Katsuki rolls his eyes, catches Midoriya by the arm, and pulls him towards Aizawa who eyes them wearily. “Alright, cough up our ribbons.” He grunts and watches Midoriya’s face pinch uncomfortably from the corner of his eye.

“Kacchan! Don’t be rude.” He pleads and turns towards their teacher, “Sensei, which ribbons are you giving us?”

Looking up, Aizawa pleads for patience, before handing them the two ribbons. “I don’t care. Decide for yourselves. You leave two leave last, wait five minutes after everyone else. Even if you don’t see me, I see you.” He walks back into the bus and lies down.

“Do you want to be immobile or blindfolded?” Midoriya asks first. He’s offering the red ribbon but Katsuki’s heart stutters at the thought of mindlessly wandering in the dark. His breathing quickens just barely but his childhood friend catches the change easily.

“I’ll take the stupid blindfold.” Katsuki tries to snatch the red ribbon out of his hand before he says anything but Midoriya holds onto it tightly.

“I want the blindfold. You can be the blue.” He pushes the ribbon against Katsuki’s chest. “Please?”

Midoriya knows too many of his weaknesses. He’s seen him at his lowest too many times. But he’s thankful for it, even if it’s only for a split moment.

“Fine, Deku. Give me the stupid blue one, I’m going to work you to the bone.” He lets go of the red one and ties the other ribbon on an arm. “Would’ve been better if I was the brawns and you, the brains.” He mutters under his breath. You pay more attention than I’m willing to admit.

Midoriya smiles, “I think we work well either way. Like Amajiki said, most heroes have their specific areas they are best at. Like Jiro and Hagakure would be amazing at sabotage missions! And imagine what Uraraka can do during rescues!” His eyes glow, “You would be amazing at offense but your defense is just as good! You can keep people away from you, specially the more power you can ramp up!”

He snorts, he knows he wouldn’t be good at rescue missions. He would be more effective as a distraction, as a weapon. That’s what it takes to be the best of the best. Pure power . Or at least that’s what he wants to think. “Yeah, and what about you, Deku?”

“Well,” He scratches at his cheek, “I think with this quirk, I should be more offense. But that puts me in a position of hurting myself… and my defense is my speed. Right now, I would only be effective in speed-type fights or endurance. I can land low-level punches for a long period of time, but a strong enough enemy can easily take me down.”  

“I don’t really know why they keep pairing us up. I have nothing to offer your quirk and I would probably get in your way if I try to use your same amount of power.” Midoriya gives a sad smile that almost looks like a pout.

But Katsuki knows exactly why they keep pairing them up. Deku has the heart of a hero while Katsuki barely understands words like empathy and saving. And Midoriya has no room for self-preservation in his ideas of heroism when Katsuki would only risk himself as a last resort.

Deku may have the spirit of a hero but Ground Zero will be unbreakable. Invincible.

They watch the last set of their classmates drop down into the forest below. Katsuki catches a glimpse of a blue ribbon around Tokoyami’s upper arm. They drop down a few minutes after and pause to tie the ribbon around Midoriya’s head. He's smiling and not looking in the right direction, “Alright, Kacchan! I can carry you and you can be my eyes.”

He wants to immediately say no but then he has no way to make it to camp. He knows Aizawa will not hesitate to interfere if they aren’t following the rules. Katsuki swallows.

“Walk towards my voice, a few more steps. Turn around and bend down.” Midoriya follows the instructions easily and he falls to one knee and leans forward. Katsuki climbs onto his back, muttering under his breath. He crosses his ankles and taps Midoriya’s chest when he’s set, “Alright, we don’t want to fight. We gotta be fucking defensive about this since I’d be the better fighter. I say you just run forward, and I’ll make sure you don’t kill us.”

He doesn’t need to see the grin on his face to know it’s there when Midoriya says, “Yes Kacchan!”

Deku is fast . Not at All Might’s level, but he’s probably faster than Katsuki’s flight speed. The forest is eerie and Katsuki only has seconds to tap Deku to turn before he runs them straight into a tree and his legs tighten for Midoriya to jump over a tree stomp. A few of the creatures aren’t quick enough to catch them and Katsuki manages to maneuver Midoriya around the sneakier ones with barely any words. He spots a few wrecked trees, unnatural piles of dirt, and other proofs of his classmates passing by. Katsuki smiles.

They work too well together when Midoriya doesn’t open his mouth and Katsuki keeps his temper simmered down. But he spots something in the corner of his eye and - His arms immediately tense and Deku slides to a stop, dropping low and ready to strike.

A woman clears her voice, “All U.A. Students, this is Mandalay. We have an emergency situation. Disregard your orders and retreat to the main camp. I repeat, Class 1-A and 1-B, retreat to the main camp. We have intruders in the area.”

Katsuki pushes Midoriya down and throws himself over him when a knife hurls above their heads.

“Katsuki Bakugou, I need student Katsuki Bakugou to get here now! They are after you!” Mandalay shouts and he grunts. Fuck

“Kacchan,” Midoriya’s voice is a whisper. “There is someone to your immediate left, behind the trees.”

He bends low, grabs the a rock the size of his hand, and hurls it. A girl laughs, “You’re so feisty, Ka-tsu-ki . I just want to play with your friend, maybe you’ll like me more if I look like him.” She steps out with a maniacal smile, “I’m Himiko Toga, and that’s Dabi.”

A hand grabs Katsuki by the hair and he snarls as he’s pulled off Midoriya. The guy is covered in burned skin and wears a bored expression, stomping down a foot on Midoriya’s back and he coughs. Katsuki wants to set him on fire and watch him burn for it. 

“Now, we don’t want any trouble. We’re just going to take this little hothead with us.” Dabi’s voice is low and his fist tightens when the sparks flare at Katsuki’s finger tips. “I wouldn’t try that, Bakugou. Unless you want your friend sliced up.”

Himiko steps closer, as curious as a cat, and smiles down at Midoriya. “He’s cute, Katsuki! Can I have him?” She bats her eyes at him.

Stupid Deku lights up like a christmas tree, his Full Cowl surging, while the two villains watch unaware. He flips onto his back, Dabi losing his footing with a raised eyebrow and falls back. Katsuki pulls himself while Dabi concentrates on staying standing. He kicks at Himiko and pulls Midoriya to his feet, keeping him behind.

When he spots one of Aizawa's bandages vanish behind the villains, Katsuki smiles and sets the world ablaze.

Chapter Text

His hands are on fire.

Without the gauntlets, his skin is reaching an alarming red and his muscles are screaming in strain. The explosion he used at the start was too big, too wild. It did nothing in their favor. Dabi has already burned through the majority of Aizawa’s ribbons and he’s holding out against their teacher easily. His eyes are already red and the recharge time between erasure is increasing. Dabi picks up on it too quickly.

Toga only managed to scratch Midoriya once with a sneaky uppercut that she followed up with her knife but she’s not the most capable fighter against them. Katsuki pins her to the ground as Midoriya winces, covering the small gash on his side.

“Ne, Katsuki? You should just come with us, or it’s going to hurt even more.” She turns her face to smile at him.

He sneers, “You’re all just amateurs. You thought some fire-fucker and blood-bitch would be enough to take me?”

“Of course not! We’re about to steal a student from the most prestigious hero school.” Her smile turns sly, “We wanted to impress you.”

“We have spotted several villains on site.” Mandalay announces again, “Students, you are reminded to return to base camp immediately. Do not engage! Hey- Get back here, you rascals!”

The forest trembles.

“Sensei!” Midoriya yells and the trees split apart, obliterated by a gust of wind. Aizawa is thrown off and tumbles across the ground as Dabi looks up with a bored expression.

“Heh, You’re late.” Toga says. Katsuki growls and shoves her harder against the floor. She snaps her teeth, “You don’t have to be so rough, Katsuki.”

A tall, bulky man steps over the scattered pieces of bark thrown across the sudden opening. Deku drops into a defensive position as Katsuki rips the ribbon off his arm and uses it for Toga’s arms.  

“You kids couldn’t handle this on your own?” His smirk is bloodthirsty. Something like fear fills Katsuki but he clenches his jaw. In the back of his head, he remembers one of the dreams. Broken limbs, screaming, the stench of blood, and fire. Midoriya's still in one piece but if they’re going to fight to survive, he’s going to break a few bones.

“Well, Muscular, we aren’t the most subtle, atleast Dabi isn’t. We might need Mr. Compress for this little hero-wannabe, though!”

Muscular shakes his head, flexing his fingers. “He’s busy at the moment with some kids. Why don’t we just beat him senseless?”

“We want him alive.” Dabi cuts in. “His teacher is proving to be an obstacle but feel free to get rid of his little friend.”

Katsuki curses, throwing himself at Deku, and they roll away the flames.

“Hey! Watch it!” Toga snarls.

What can he do? Three villains between Aizawa, Midoriya, and himself. He stomps down his pride and the arrogance that wants to defend his strength. Muscular may not be as intimidating but something about him reaches at the back of his head.

“Kacchan, I think you should run.” Midoriya looks at him evenly.     

“I’m not a coward, Deku!” 

His childhood friend, the crybaby he’s always known, rolls his eyes. “I don’t think anyone would call you a coward.” He pats his cheek, “You’re the strongest person I know. But you are also the most stubborn. They’re after you, you idiot!”

Midoriya jumps to his feet, pulling Katsuki along, to dodge another flame strike.

Their teacher snarls, red eyes glowing, “You need to leave, Bakugou. I can't protect you both.”

“If I leave,” Katsuki frowns. “Promise me that you won’t break yourself past your limit.”

Izuku smiles, “I’m going to be the number one hero so I can’t stop just yet!” He shoves Katsuki back and Aizawa’s ribbons wrap themselves around Katsuki’s midriff. “See you on the flip side, Kacchan!”

Aizawa summons enough strength to launch Katsuki over the tree tops and he shoots forward, towards the central camp. There’s smoke around the vicinity and pockets of erupting brawls. He even manages not look back when Izuku screams. He fights the instinct to turn around: Aizawa will protect him. If Katsuki launches another massive explosion, he’s going to end up defenseless too soon. His hands flare with a little too much heat and he winces.

There is power in numbers and he thinks of the losers who are willing to spend their lunch with him. He’ll never admit it but he’s already grown attached. He’s not willing to lose this.

Yet, when Dark Shadow roars and he spots a speck of red, he can’t help it. He dives towards them in a whirlwind of flames. After all, it's not the first time he's this reckless. Tokoyami is unresponsive, darkness wrapping around him, and Kirishima looks to be near his limit. Dark Shadow flairs uncontrollably, lashing out against Kirishima’s hardened arms.

“Get away!” Kirishima barks, waving his arm when Katsuki lands. “We can handle it!” Dark Shadow lets out another roar before Kirishima lets out a nervous laugh, “We can definitely handle this, right Tokoyami?”

The caped villain watching them tilts his head. The smile on it’s mask would probably widen if it could. “Truly a display of power, if I may say so myself. Very admirable.” He raises a gloved hand, holding small marbles between his fingers. “Perhaps it can be of use to us. You managed to defeat Moonfish, so we’ll need a replacement. Lets see if you can rid yourself of your classmates.”

Dark Shadow snarls and shoots forward, striking like lightning. But the man simply disappears before reappearing and tossing the marbles at their feet. Kirishima pulls Katsuki hard enough to stumble away as they start sprinting and Dark Shadow screeches, following in suit.

“Alright, I might need you to wake Tokoyami up,” The redhead yells, “Todoroki stayed with Kaminari and Mina since some dudes attacked us when we went looking for you and Midoriya. The upperclassmen are supporting the Pussycats at the camp against that portal guy again!”

Katsuki rolls his eyes, “Breathe, Hair-for-brains. Calvary setup?”

Kirishima smiles. He turns quick, dropping to his knees and hardens his skin. Katsuki skids behind him and lets out a steady stream of blasts as Dark Shadow closes in. The forest lights up with flashes of fire and Kirishima bears a good brunt of it with a grin. The light is enough for Tokoyami to gasp at awareness but the split second is a wide enough for a marble to strike.

It swallows him whole in the blink of an eye and Mr. Compress twirls it around his fingertips, “Not exactly the challenge I hoped to see. A little too easy, with a weakness like that.”

Katsuki growls, shoulders trembling and fists shaking in anger. Kirishima tries to hold him back, showing his own panic, with a soft mumble of Katsuki’s name and a steady hand on his shoulder.

All that does is turn the villain towards them. “Ah, you are Katsuki Bakugou then?”

Kirishima’s face drops while Katsuki sparks with energy, “That’s right you fucking bastard, you better remember it too. You'll be begging me for mercy if I have to pry Tokoyami out of your dead cold hands.”

Mr. Compress laugh, “I can see why they want to recruit you under our wing. Go on Katsuki Bakugou, prove to me that you can save your-”

He doesn't wait for him to shut up. Katsuki loads up as much power as he can and blasts it. The villain clicks his tongue and Katsuki unleashes another blast in his direction. He kicks off the ground and launches himself up. Mr. Compress laughs again, catching a fist in a hand, and narrowly dodges the blast.

Katsuki tries to think, the marble holding Tokoyami must be separate from the rest of the marbles in the mans bag of tricks. He bites and claws anything in his reach with the ferocity of a cornered cat. The savagery in his attacks must surprise Mr. Compress, especially when Katsuki shatters a piece of his mask. He wails and shoves Katsuki off, letting Kirishima catch him effortlessly.

An angry eye glares at them, “I expected more class from a child training to be a hero.”

“Come at us one more time and I won't hesitate to show you what I can really do.” Katsuki snaps his teeth in a wild smile before shattering the marble he nicked in time. Tokoyami hisses and Dark Shadow hovers hesitantly.

Mr. Compress straightens, “Too late to recapture the other boy but you, Katsuki Bakugou, belong with us now. Time to make our exit.”

Kirishima and Tokoyami immediately step in front of him protectively. They brace when the villain flings more marbles while Dark Shadow knocks away a majority of them but no one notices a the dark portal that appears behind Katsuki. A hand grabs him by the neck and the choking noise he makes is enough for Kirishima to turn towards him.

He doesn't see that. He only looks up and Izuku stares back in horror, standing at the edge of their clearing like some kind of hero. Aizawa carried across his back, burned and shattered, and it reminds him of USJ all over again. Like the idiot he is, Deku’s arms are discolored and broken. He can’t tell with Izuku’s pants, but he’s definitely favoring one side.

Katsuki’s suddenly glad he won't be there to hear Recovery Girl scold him. The earful she’s going to give the stupid idiot almost makes him laugh but he can’t. Everyone is staring wide eyed and Katsuki’s face crumbles.

He tries to grin instead but everything vanishes too fast.

When he’s dumped into a windowless room, he screams himself hoarse and his hands barely manage a spark, The door is heavy and his arms are screaming in pain as his palms turn raw. The only dream Katsuki has that night, curled on the hard bed at the villain's hideout, is of a bright world made of fire, ruin, and heroes. There’s no explosion this time, no sudden realization. It’s a gentle welcoming that feels like home. Deku extends a hand, reaching out for him but he doesn’t take it.

Instead, Ground Zero simply raises a gauntlet in a fist and smiles.  

Chapter Text

The villains leave him alone for an entire week, the room is kept cold enough that he barely sweats and his muscles strain to produce the sparks at his fingertips. The small TV plays quietly in the corner of the room. UA announces the events, their apology, and Katsuki’s picture flashes on the screen as a missing person multiple times. He catches no glimpses of his classmates or teachers.

The only fucker with manners, or atleast any resemblance of “kindness,” is the portal fuck who calls himself Kurogiri. “You don't act like a hero,” He says the first night after introducing himself again while Katsuki ignores the tray of food he brings. “Too hotheaded- you must be a fan of Endeavor.”

Katsuki snarls, “Fuck off,” With every piece of rage he musters and backhands the soup against the wall. “You don’t know anything about me.”

“I know enough.” Kurogiri doesn’t flinch, he only wipes away at the stains with the rag at his waist. He piles the plates back onto the tray and laughs. “You’re just one bad day away from being like us.”

“If that’s what you think, you’re in for a surprise.” He snorts, curling back against the wall and continues to eye the villain. “I’ve already had my share of bad days.”

“You think you would have caught our eye otherwise?”

Katsuki flinches and Kurogiri leaves him seething with an empty stomach. He wonders how long it’ll take for someone to find him. His quirk is too weak and he suspects the overuse is causing the numbness in his hands.

Do his parents know what happened? His mother is probably cursing the school to hell and back which makes him smile softly. Are Kirishima and Mina eating enough at lunch or are they just messing around like always. He hopes Tokoyami is keeping an eye on them. Maybe Birdface found some new teas to recommend.

Was Izuku okay? That brings a hollow laugh out of his chest. The idiot was fine, probably even crying like the baby he is. He’s sure Recovery Girl fixed him up just fine. The scars will stay but he’ll live, like usual. Katsuki can’t say the same for himself just yet. He flexes his fingers, does the wrist stretches, and on the third night, he eats quietly under Kurogiri’s watch.

“Tomorrow, we will introduce you to the League.” He announces, looking over Katsuki once more. “You’re still too weak, so don’t bother trying anything. It’ll only hurt you more.”

He snarls and goes to stand, but Kurogiri is quick, shoving him back down on the bed with a tight grip on his shoulder. “Do you not listen to anyone? Are you always so willing to hurt yourself to prove something?”

“Fuck you!”

Kurogiri locks the door and Katsuki lets out a scream, pulling at his hair. The burns on his hands itch and the dream doesn’t change. Ground Zero raises a fist and smiles. Sometimes, if the dream goes long enough, he can hear Deku laugh. He still has no clue what it even means, it's not clear to him why it's such a happy dream. It's soft,  feels too close to home, and doesn't make enough sense to be coherent. And yet, that same night, the dream replays but boils with anticipation. It crawls under his skin and sits, waiting.    

Yet, they have the gull to underestimate him, leaving him loosely bound as Kurogiri pulls him into a larger room. A large cast of characters watch him on a scale of disinterested to intrigued. The fucker with the hands scratches at his neck and looks at him, “Welcome, Katsuki.” Kurogiri pushes him down roughly into the chair, “Welcome to the League of Villains.”

They’re all idiots. Toga smiles at him, batting her eyelashes, and Dabi doesn’t bother to look at him. A lizard flicks his tongue and Mr. Compress plays catch with a marble. The other villains look less interested and just sit with beers in hand. 

“We want you to join us.” Shigaraki starts, “We want to bring change . Fix what's broken in this system.”

They really just invited him to their shitty team. Katsuki barks out a laugh, “Really? You kidnapped me for this?”

The lizard guy snorts, “You say that, but do you really understand? You’re a kid who probably always wanted to be a hero. To do what? Be the best?”

“I am going to be the best!” Katsuki snaps his teeth and Kurogiri tightens his grip on his shoulder. “I’m going to be number one.”

“But why? For what?” The lizard pushes, “For the power? The money? The fame?”

That surprises him. He can pinpoint the exact moment he decided to be a hero: Watching All Might save the day. He can show you the crayon drawing and the costumes. Being a hero was his dream, he was meant for it. He wants to be strong, wants others to know he’s strong. He knows this.

The villain continues, “What makes a hero, kid? Power? Selflessness? The heroes you see now are just cheap imitations of legends. They want to be number one on the billboards, they want the money that comes with their ranking. I’m not saying there are no exceptions, but why does the public’s opinion matter?”

Shigaraki waves his hand, “With that in mind… what do you say, Katsuki Bakugou?”

“I’ve admired All Might since I can remember and if you think some small fry can convince me otherwise- You guys are in for it. Maybe I don’t have some fucking self-sacrificing desire to help people, but I know what team I’m on. And All Might isn’t all about strength either, he’s a symbol of something great.” Katsuki can’t help but think of Izuku for a split second, “I have to catch up on that saving shit but I’ve got people to protect too.” His fingers spark when he hears a crash and he smiles, ”So my answer? Hell. No.”

Shigaraki digs his nails into his neck so hard, he can see the blood seeping. Kurogiri shoots towards him and the wall behind him explodes. All Might smiles, “You’re very admirable, young Bakugou.” He shatters the ground underneath them and someone screams.

Katsuki only laughs. Kamui Woods sprints past his teacher and the roots spread across the room, engaging a few of the villains. Heroes flood the scene and the weight in his chest feels a little lighter.  Best Jeanist looks disinterested when he looks upon his former intern, “I heard you’ve been up to some serious trouble, King Explosion Murder.”

He bares his teeth as the older man cuts through the rope, “It’s Ground Zero, sir.”

The Pro-Hero’s eyes twinkle, “Your friends missed you. I had to listen to Crimson Riot’s lost son tell me how to do my job.”  

Katsuki grins, “I mean, it took you guys a while to find me. Maybe you guys need the help.”

“Oh yes, I love being told what to do by angsty teenagers.” Best Jeanist grabs him by the collar and hauls him to his feet. “Now, we’re going to get you out safely before I have a classroom full of children demanding my head.”

The crime scene has police officers spread across the perimeter and the small crowd that’s form is kept behind the yellow line. But nothing keeps Kirishima from slipping under the tape and bringing Katsuki into a hug. Mina waves at him, her eyes suspiciously red, and Sero grins. 

“I’m sorry I couldn’t help,” the redhead gives an ugly sob, “I should’ve done more.”

Katsuki smiles into the jacket before softly pushing him away. “I had it all under control.”

Tokoyami pats Kirishima on the back, shaking his head, “They refused to let us help with the rescue so we followed them anyways.”

“To rescue me? Please, I had them on the end of their ropes. They’re just taking the credit for my mission.” Katsuki snorts. “Don’t need anyone to saving me.”

Izuku though, Izuku smiles so hard, Katsuki thinks his cheeks are going to break.

“I told you everything was going to be fine.” He says it not unkindly. “Don’t know why you’re such a crybaby.”

Izuku throws his arms around him and Katsuki already knows he’s already crying again when he mumbles low, “I’m just glad you’re okay.”

He thinks about the dreams and Deku and All Might. He thinks about his friends and his parents. He thinks about Aizawa and Best Jeanist. He’s still angry but it feels lighter.

Katsuki nods, “Yeah. Me too.”    

Chapter Text

He’s not released from the hospital until a week later. The doctors tell him things he already knows:

His arms have limits. His quirk raises the temperature on his palms and the blisters he didn’t notice remind him of it. If he keeps pushing too hard, without restraint, his explosions will scorch his arms until the skin is left in uneven patches. It might even kill him one day.

It’s not that he doesn’t take their advice, he just already knows . Without the gauntlets, he’s the biggest danger to himself. Which makes him laugh, because it’s too ironic.

Class 1-A makes it their mission for someone to visit him everyday. Kirishima visits with stories of their friends during his absence and Tokoyami brings him a box of assorted teas to try. Mina sneaks him a bag of chips while Iida lectures both of them on the nutrition in hospital food.

Uraraka ends up on the chair, sprawled with her legs over the arm, while Todoroki makes a space for himself on the floor near her chair. Tsuyu sits at the foot of his bed, speaking quietly with Jiro and Yaoyorozu who take up more space on his bed then he does. He only pretends to be slightly upset. He doesn’t even notice Hagakure between them until she nudges his foot and snickers.

Sero and Shoji are more somber, they bring cards with drawings from the rest of the kids who couldn’t visit that day. Ojiro doodles monkeys on the sides and the lightning bolt stamped in the middle screams Kaminari. Even Koda signs with cute faces and Sato only writes his name.

Deku on the other hand, visits every day. He’s talk quietly with his friends in one corner or the other, and always stays after they leave. Sometimes, they sit in silence. Other times, it’s a screaming competition of who’s to blame.

Katsuki immediately shuts him down when he starts with his self-sacrificing bullshit and Izuku always points out the flaws in his argument.

I should’ve been faster.

You weren’t even there Deku. I should’ve been stronger.

You were already worn out, Kacchan.

It’s a back and forth battle that neither of them win.

On one late afternoon, Aizawa slams open the door with narrow eyes and a mouthful of apologizes that shock the two of them. Even All Might shows up, later, and Izuku gives him a weird look Katsuki doesn’t understand until the Symbol of fucking Peace coughs out blood and simmers into a shorter, dying man. Toshinori, he reintroduces himself as, apologizes for his shortcomings and explains the biggest fucking secret Katsuki ever believed.

Deku was his successor.

And for some reason, it doesn’t piss him off as much as he thought it would. It just made the most sense in light of everything. Even Deku seems uneasy until Katsuki smacks him over the head with his cast.

On quieter nights, when Izuku’s mother leaves him overnight with a pinched expression as she glances over Katsuki in wariness, Izuku sets himself up on the uncomfortable couch. It reminds him of their time as two children whose worlds were untouched by violence and expectations. Especially when Izuku smiles and all Katsuki sees is the silhouette of the next symbol of peace.

He doesn’t even fucking flinch.

Instead, on Friday night, as Izuku sets up his bed for the night, Katsuki says, “You fight like me.”

Because it’s true. He’s noticed it since starting UA but it becomes more prominent the more he fights. Deku is throwing punches with the confidence of Ground Zero and battles like his fists are his only reliable weapons.

What he doesn’t say is, I want to fight like you. If you learned those moves from me, I want something back. Tell me what it means to be a hero who saves others with a smile.

Izuku grins.

He realizes then that they’re two kids standing at opposite ends of the Hero spectrum. Heroes are measured by their ability to win, Katsuki means. Izuku argues, heroes are measured by the good they do. But in the end, they’re saying the same thing- Heroes inspire .  They fall asleep to old cartoon reruns they used to love. 

On Sunday morning, it’s Recovery Girl that signs his release forms and Toshinori that follows her inside his room quietly. She takes a seat beside his bed with a knowing look, “How are you feeling, Bakugou?”

Katsuki shrugs, gesturing to his arm casts, but smirks. “Still breathing."

“To be expected of one of our students." She chuckles, "Now, we’re sending you home. If you have any problems, feel free to come see me whenever you’d like at school. We’re giving your mother some prescriptions to antibiotics and some burn salves for your palms.” She looks over the chart in her hand, “Is there anything you need before I let you go?”

He takes the risk, “Can someone be born with more than one quirk?”

She blinks, “Well, due to the nature of quirks and how they came to be, it is more than possible. The only issue would be that all quirks have drawbacks, as you've seen with Midoriya and even your own quirk. To have more than one would be extremely taxing, whether it be physical,” Recovery girl looks at him strangely for a split second, “Or emotional. But it is definitely possible. Most likely the underlying quirk will be much more subtle and less powerful than the main quirk being utilized.”

“I dreamed once about Mirio, I think. When I was younger, before I got my quirk. He was going to take All Might’s place.” His eyebrow twitches at the foggy memory and Mirio’s smile, “But when I met Deku, the dream stopped. It morphed into someone else and it was… comforting, I guess. When I got my quirk, Deku became that hero.”

All Might clears his throat, “If I had not been fortunate enough to meet young Midoriya, Mirio would have most likely been my successor.”

Katsuki nods, “After that, the dreams were less frequent but I just always knew. I knew that Deku was going to be the next number one hero.  That I would be attacked by the Sludge monster. The Villain attack at USJ. I knew that they’d take me.” He breathes deeply and Recovery Girl gestures for him to continue, “I don’t know why. Sometimes they don’t make a lot of sense or other times I don’t remember the whole thing.”

“Even if you have made mistakes, young Bakugou, that doesn’t change who you want to be. Those dreams are obviously not set in stone, if the first one you had changed so easily.” All Might rests his hand on his shoulder, “I have no doubt you will be one of the best.”

Recovery Girl sighs, “As I said before, you’ve been training your explosion quirk, it’s more than likely that your foresight quirk has diminished. At most, I do believe you can see random events a few weeks ahead but these events seem to only pertain to you. Something that would directly impact you.”

“As a child, before you received your explosive quirk, you most likely were able to reach much farther into your future and the circumstances would have included a larger radius around you rather than what directly impacts you now.” She hums thoughtfully, “As you continue to train, you will most likely lose that ability one day. Maybe only glimpses at a possible future a few days ahead.”

His shoulders sink with relief. Toshinori pats his shoulder with a comforting smile, “Please do inform us if you receive another one. We’re here to protect you, young Bakugou.”

“You aren’t alone.”

Chapter Text

Monday morning arrives without a hitch. His mother watches him, as if waiting for any sign. He rolls his eyes and gives her a small smile. She returns it with a fond look.

Class 1-A are just as vigilante when he enters the room. He stops next to his seat, his desk covered in cards and small gifts. He sighs but carefully tucks all of the presents into his bag. Aizawa comes in like nothing happened, doesn’t bat an eye at Katsuki, which he’s thankful for. And when the bell rings, dismissing them for lunch, he makes a decision. One that costs him nothing, but lets him breath easier.

“Kirishima.” Katsuki says, before looking at the redhead. “Thank you.”

The entire classroom takes a collective pause. Kirishima stares in awe as Kaminari chokes on his spit and Sero’s jaw drops. Even Izuku hides a smile behind his hand.

“Bakugou,” He starts with a sniff but clears his throat when he catches the glare, “For what?”

I’m going to try to be the friend you deserve, Katsuki doesn't say. Instead, he scuffs, “Nevermind. I’m going to go take a shitty ass nap.” 

Mina nods in a way that lets him know she understands. “We’ll wake you if you’re out for too long.”

It’s too warm of a feeling that rises in his chest. Other than that, the day goes by as if Katsuki’s entire world hasn’t been flipped on its head. His friends still have their lunch with him. Tokoyami himself sleeps across Kirishima’s lap and Mina threads her fingers in his feathers. It’s comforting.  Recovery Girl smiles at him in the hallway and he nods, respectfully, as he listens to Mina’s adventure at the mall during the weekend. She rants endlessly but walks closer to him, like she’s scared he’ll disappear again. Kirishima does the same, bracketing him from the other side.  

After school ends with Katsuki waiting outside the gates. Izuku finally emerges, waving goodbye to Uraraka. “Were you waiting long, Kacchan?” When Katsuki shakes his head, Izuku chuckles, “All Might needed me just for a few minutes.”

“It’s fine,” Katsuki shrugs.

They walk together quietly, again. It always seems to end this way and it makes Katsuki want to laugh at the irony of their lives. His expression pinches but Izuku speaks first.

“Did you want… to talk?” His voice is low, hesitant. Katsuki swallows thickly and slows to a stop. Izuku pauses in front of him, looking back with a raised eyebrow.

“I hated you.” Katsuki says, when his mouth decides to work. “You were my best friend until I realized you were going to be who I wanted to be.”

“What?” Now, Izuku is facing him completely with a confused expression.

“I got two quirks and you started with nothing. Yet… you’re still here and I’m suddenly the one playing catch up.” He clenches at his chest, “I’ve always been terrified of you because since we were four years old, you’ve always had something in you that made you great.” Katsuki rubs at his eyes. “I hated you because one day, you were going to be beyond my reach.”

“Kacchan.”

“I already knew you were going to fill his shoes and I wanted to beat you down hard enough, to prove it to myself.” Katsuki picks at his heart. “You’re the most terrifying thing in this world because even if you don’t win, you don’t give up.”   

Izuku pulls him into a hug, “How can I give up when I grew up watching you?”

“You grew up with All Might, Izuku. He’s the hero you were meant to be.” Katsuki lets out a shallow breath. “Since the moment we met, you were bound to be great. And even without me, he would’ve seen you.”

His childhood friend shakes his head, “I don’t understand.” Izuku squeezes his shoulders.

“I’ve got… these dreams. Prophetic. I knew who you were going to be from the beginning, didn’t realize it until our quirks developed. I knew about a lot of things, before they happened.” Katsuki sighs, “It’ll probably fade with time since I never learned to use them properly. They just ended up being more of a hassle.”

Izuku frowns, “Why did you never say anything?”

“‘Hey Deku, I’m a fucking physic. You’re going to replace the greatest hero of all time.’” Katsuki pushes himself away, not by much. He laughs, “That’d be a real fucking experience. Would it have made a difference?”

“I hated you too.” Izuku says instead. “You were my best friend and then you stomped on everything we had because I was quirkless. Useless. A Deku. I hated you with every bone that missed my best friend.” He punches Katsuki’s chest. Hard. “But I admired everything you were and still are. You say I looked up to All Might, and I did. But you were the closest thing to a hero I knew in my life.”

“I’m sorry.” Katsuki lets his pride rest for once and falls to his knees. “I’m so sorry.” It’s filled to the brim of everything he doesn’t know how to put into words but if there's anyone who can make sense of it, it's him.

“I don’t forgive you.” Izuku replies, not unkindly. “But we’ll get there.”

This time, when Izuku offers him a hand - Katsuki takes it.     

Woah, Aizawa, your kids are really destroying this year. I didn’t even expect Uravity to wipe the floor with IcyHot.” Present Mic’s voice blares over the stadium. “It took a single well-timed punch and he went down like a light. Did she learn that from Deku?”

Endeavor.” Aizawa corrects him.

Ha- Wait, Endeavor?

Both of them have been interning together with Endeavor for their final year.” Something like pride seeps into their teachers voice, “She’s been giving them a run for their money. He owes me money if she makes into the top five heroes.

They're amazing! We are so proud of our third years!” Present Mic sniffs before clearing his throat, “Well, now we have the Wonder Duo up next - Deku and Ground Zero, battling it out for that first place for the second year in a row.

Ground Zero steps up to the platform with a smirk, “You ready to lose this time?”

Deku rolls his eyes, stretching his arms across his chest. “Last time I checked, we both lost last year. I just passed out two seconds after you.”

“That’s not what your gold medal says.” Katsuki’s mouth softens into a smile, that looks like a grimace to anyone else. “How about we up the stakes?”

They walk towards each other for a handshake and Izuku raises an eyebrow, squeezing his hand. “If you make me eat your mom’s curry again, I’m going to die.”

Katsuki laughs, “Nah. I win, you’ll come on a date with me. A real one- none of the movie nights that turn into puppy piles on the floor with the losers we call friends.”

From the crowd above them, in the section dedicated for their classmates, Kirishima roars, “Stop flirting!”

Izuku laughs and they barely hear the “Not again ” from the speakers. Katsuki turns on his heel to yell back, “I’m fucking going to fight your ass again if you don’t shut the fuck up. This is the boy of my dreams .”

“We know. Literally. He’s been the boy of your dreams since forever,” Mina screams. “We don’t have all day!”

“Kacchan,” Izuku says, catching his attention, “What about if I win?”

The crowds fade away and Katsuki is left standing, watching his best friend look at him like he’s already number one. Izuku has the smile he’s worn since he was four years old, the same one he will wear when he becomes the Symbol of Peace - no, the Symbol of Hope. Katsuki smiles with all teeth, “I know it’s going to be my win this time but what would you want, hypothetically?”

“Two dates. You pay.”

Katsuki shakes his head, “You better fight me with all you got, Deku. Ain’t nothing between you and first place other than me.” He raises a fist in the air. “So you better show me what you got, hero.”

“Always, Kacchan.” Izuku smiles, “Always.”

I’ve had to deal with that for the last three years. Two bundles of hormones constantly fighting and misunderstanding each other.” Aizawa speaks over the crowds, “Why can we not have Uravity and Tsukuyomi fighting for first? It’s always Wonder Duo this, Wonder Duo that.” His students in the stands start laughing. “Any of my other kids already have Agencies they’ll be joining after graduation.”

Present Mic laughs, “Well, the Wonder Duo is just the strongest pair of heroes we’ve seen in years. It makes sense for them to be fighting for first place, especially in the hero scene. Did they choose an agency yet?

No, it’s worse.” Aizawa hisses, “They’re creating their own.