The thing is, Midoriya Izuku has never been good about accepting what life has seen fit to give him.
Some might even go so far as to say that Midoriya Izuku actively challenges what life has seen to give him by demanding more from it.
This is because what life has seen fit to give him has just not been satisfactory in many ways. And if Izuku isn't going to be blessed with the things that he wants from the start, he'll just have to get them for himself.
It's an approach to life that has been paying off for him; see: the quirk of his childhood hero and his place in the school of his dreams.
The one thing he'd never quite managed to gain, though, was any version of Kacchan that he actually wanted. Kacchan, who - Izuku is pretty sure - exists solely to remind him that giving up is also a legitimate option in life.
He challenges this too, until he realises that perhaps it's for the best. A four year old Izuku who wants a friend apparently has vastly different wants and needs as a seventeen year old Izuku, and if he's never even managed the basic level of friendly interaction in all those years, there's little chance that he'll manage it in the next thirteen.
He should probably give up, he thinks. It's something he's never done before; it feels weird. The kind of weird that feels a lot like the seven stages of grief for something he never quite had.
Izuku doesn't really have the time or energy to sort through all of his internalised feelings about it though, so he starts at anger, has a brief interlude of denial, circles back to anger for a bit, and then hovers on the cusp of acceptance for longer than he wants to admit.
"I fucked up, and I'm sorry," Kacchan says, looking awkward and utterly sincere. Izuku's heart is in his throat as he cycles through the stages all over again, this time in the proper order and in the blink of an eye.
He finally tips over into acceptance. This is not quite everything he wants, but it's all he could ever ask for. He feels cleansed.
"Hypothetically," Kacchan says, "how much time do you think should be between me punching your face and, like, me kissing it?"
And Izuku, having plateaued into his new state of acceptance, just thinks: Yes, good, okay. Alright.
It occurs to him only after a solid two hours of replaying the whole thing in high definition with his face in his hands that, really, this might be one of maybe a few times in his life wherein Izuku hadn't actually had to do much to get what he wanted. Kacchan had just kind of... barged in and dropped it on his lap, apropos of nothing.
Izuku doesn't want to sound ungrateful, but he's feeling a little superfluous to the cause here.
He has to be up for class in less than three hours. He's probably not going to sleep, because apparently Kacchan can only dump life changing revelations in the early hours, so he does the next best thing to staring at the ceiling hyperventilating.
He goes on a Wikipedia binge.
So mating rituals in nature are horrifying.
Izuku regrets himself and everything that lead him to this point. He knows his brain has a tendency to latch on to certain, particular and peculiar things, but this is just. Of all the things, he can't believe he's looking up aggressive dolphin sex at four in the morning because his own looming jaunt into intimacy is apparently one of those things.
He takes a few minutes to simply breathe and wonders whether he was betrayed by his own quick acceptance.
When exactly did Kacchan decide he was into this? This being Izuku? He hopes it wasn't when the bullying was still going on; that would set an awful precedent for their relationship going forward.
Is it even a relationship? Is that what they're doing? Does kissing equate to things like dating and holding hands and other type things?
Izuku imagines holding Kacchan's hand. He thinks, even if he was allowed, he probably wouldn't want to. Kacchan has always had sweaty hands and Izuku likes his where they are; attached.
Is this something he should have thought about before taking what was on offer without question?
Izuku would like to say that he's surprised and disappointed in himself; that he's usually much more careful and considered about the challenges he takes on, but that would be a filthy lie. This is exactly the same bullshit, knee-jerk enthusiasm that had him swallowing hair from another man.
Not that he'd do that any differently now, even with all the information. Just, if he'd known, he would have had a water bottle with him that morning. This is also like that, in that he doesn't have a water bottle and he's entirely unprepared to have something not his own in his mouth today.
Izuku has an awful suspicion that in all his wanting, he never actually believed it was possible enough to prepare himself for the reality and now he has to deal with it.
The first person he sees after he finally emerges ready for class is thankfully not Kacchan. It's the second worse though, because it's Todoroki, who's still got a vague aura of betrayal about him that reminds Izuku that he owes him an apology.
The second person he sees is Yaoyorozu, standing in the kitchen with three different types of tea and a freshly brewed batch of coffee, asking if anyone would like some.
Izuku isn't even sorry, he walks straight past where Todoroki is looking sad to get to her.
The rest of the students up and about all part for him like waves, which is worrying. It's possible he's managed to develop some kind of reputation he's not comfortable with, and Izuku silently promises to apologise to everyone individually and as a group when he's functional enough to care.
He's not at that point yet though, so he just holds his head high and says, "Coffee, please."
Yaoyorozu looks at him and wordlessly slides a mug and the entire coffee pot over.
"You look terrible, Midoriya-kun," she says.
"Thanks," Izuku replies, because he's an idiot. He barely stops himself from tacking on a rote 'you too'. He points to the coffee pot, "I'll just - fix that. With this."
He should've just acknowledged Todoroki; this is his punishment. His life is a whole line of awkward moments encountered in the process of trying to avoid other awkward moments.
He imagines this thing with Kacchan is only going to add a whole new dimension to it, and that's also worrying. He should probably limit the amount of ongoing awkward moments he has at any one time.
"Good morning, Todoroki-kun," he says, inching up and cradling his mug like a shield. Todoroki blinks and then scowls at a point over Izuku's shoulder.
"Midoriya," he says. "You've got incoming."
"Oi, nerd!" Kacchan calls from the stairwell. "Where the fuck were you? I went to your room and you weren't even there!"
Todoroki's eyebrows raise suspiciously. Almost knowingly. Izuku wonders if it's possible to drown yourself with the amount of liquid contained in a mug, or if it would require more, like a mixing bowls worth. He has immediate access to mixing bowls.
He holds the mug up as some kind of explanation. Kacchan looks like he got about the same amount of sleep as Izuku and is dealing with it only slightly better. He squints, wobbles on the dismount, and spins in the direction of Yaoyorozu without another word.
Izuku would feel, like, cheated or abandoned or something, but Kacchan and Yaoyorozu have some kind of weird bond over tea that he thinks started with something about calming properties. Whatever. Nobody pretends to understand it, because nobody actually does, but he figures it'll occupy Kacchan long enough for him to put a stop to Todoroki's suspicious glancing between the two of them.
"Todoroki-kun," Izuku says again. "Can we talk?"
Todoroki looks at him, and then back over to where Kacchan and Yaoyorozu are saying things like chamomile and perfect blend and what the fuck is bergamot even supposed to be, and then back at Izuku.
"Yeah," he says. "I've got questions. Like why do you and Bakugou both look like-"
"I just wanted to say sorry for the other day, and for being a prick lately," Izuku says quickly. "So don't take this the wrong way, but I'm walking away now."
He leaves to the sound of Todoroki's maudlin, "Why do I always have to be right?"
Izuku doesn't know, but it's a really annoying trait to have in a friend.
He immediately feels bad about it.
"Okay," he says, swinging back around. "Whatever you're thinking is probably wrong."
"Really," Todoroki intones. "So I didn't hear Bakugou yelling out your name in the early hours of this morning?"
Izuku blinks. "I was just kind of under the impression that he did that randomly, whether I'm around or not. That's what Kirishima-kun says he does."
Kirishima had even provided a recording. Izuku has learned all sorts of things about his classmates since they moved into the dorms, but this little titbit still remains one of the most confusing; should he be flattered or worried? He's always edged towards worried, but now he's starting to think it should be a solid both. One day he should ask Kacchan for context.
"He does, but that's usually angry and followed by booming; I'm this close to asking for a room change, I'll use my father if I have to. But this wasn't that."
"Then I don't know what to tell you," Izuku says blandly. "But I wasn't there for it, and so whatever you're thinking is absolutely, totally wrong."
Todoroki stares at him silently.
From across the room, Kacchan yells at him, "Is that coffee, Deku?! I fucking hate the taste of coffee!"
"I think I'm on the right track," Todoroki says.
"No," Izuku denies, walking away for real this time.
When Kacchan had started staring at him in class for no apparent reason, Izuku was, first and foremost, extremely weirded out.
He also had three different running theories about what it meant.
The first was that Kacchan had decided to try his hand at psychological warfare; particularly as a new, experimental form of intimidation that was surprisingly effective at the start, but waned into something less alarming and more annoying the longer it went on.
The second was that Kacchan had noticed the way Izuku stared at him during class, and had decided that turn-about was fair play. Whether or not he'd realised why Izuku was staring at him in the first place was the subject of intense internal debate that ranged from 'god I hope not' to 'are those come-hithery eyes?' on any given day.
The third was a long shot, but there were a couple of times there where Izuku could have sworn Kacchan was trying and failing to communicate with him telepathically.
Class that morning is an extremely uncomfortable affair, because Izuku suspects that those were, and are, in fact, some version of come-hithery eyes.
Kirishima gives him a subtle thumbs up as Izuku attempts to look anywhere but directly ahead.
He eats lunch locked in a bathroom stall and very pointedly does not think about how this reminds him of middle school.
He is hiding from Kacchan, which is similar. But he's also hiding from everyone else, which is different.
Izuku has friends now that care about his wellbeing enough to ask questions about it when he'd really prefer them not to, and that makes this experience new and novel.
His carefully planned avoidance goes to shit as soon as Todoroki manages to get Aizawa-sensei to pair them for their afternoon practical training. Izuku isn't sure how he did it and he finds it unfair on many levels, but mostly on the one that states that he can't run away because leaving the circle means losing.
Kacchan just finished weeks of pulling this very same trick; Izuku doesn't believe Todoroki's nonchalant shrug for a second. He knows when his sparring partners are rigged.
The how isn't important though, it's the why.
"Because you've been a prick lately," Todoroki says. "And it's probably Bakugou's fault, who's - yeah, look at him. It's like I've pissed on his territory and taken away his toy."
Izuku looks at Kacchan, who is very pointedly glaring at them instead of facing his own sparring partner. Kacchan is about to learn that ignoring Uraraka when she's ready to fight is not the wisest move a man can make; it's a mistake that Izuku can attest to from personal experience.
She moves and Izuku winces as the yelling starts.
"I feel like it'd be easier on everyone if you'd just hit me and call it even," Izuku says, turning away to shift into his own fighting stance.
"It's exactly that kind of martyrdom that makes it more rewarding to take it out on Bakugou instead," Todoroki replies, standing casually and waiting for the first move.
Todoroki can be kind of petty, now that Izuku thinks about it. He can definitely hold a grudge. Izuku should have probably apologised sooner, because Kacchan is still yelling and now Uraraka's yelling back and he thinks they could have avoided this if he had.
"So about this morning-" Todoroki starts.
Izuku decides this is the perfect time to start their own training match. His first point of attack is to slap a hand over Todoroki's mouth and his second is to, god willing, stop this conversation before it starts.
"No," Izuku says, flinching from Todoroki's defensive flames and patting half-heartedly at his smouldering sleeve.
"Yes," Todoroki replies, looking down.
Izuku follows his gaze down to find himself caught in the grip of a steadily growing block of ice. He watches it creep past his knees and head into dangerous territory with a slump of defeat. He could get out, but at this rate it seems like wasted effort and Izuku is trying really hard to be smarter about picking his battles.
There's a cacophony of yelling coming from the background that pairs nicely with his own internal cursing. Iida has apparently stopped his own match to mediate - poorly; he's also yelling and waving his arms around like he's directing traffic. Ashido, Iida's abandoned training partner, seems to have tagged along simply to egg them all on from the sidelines.
Izuku watches the whole chaotic scene unfold, trapped in his own quiet circle of ice and judgement, and really wishes he was in the middle of that instead.
"This is a dick move, Todoroki-kun," he says dully.
"I'll consider it even," Todoroki says. "Friends don't let friends do dumb shit without an explanation."
Izuku glares, because he's pretty sure Todoroki is parroting his own words back at him.
"This isn't the same; this won't end with Kaminari-kun on fire. I don't care what he thinks soap can do."
"Bakugou seems like a pretty dumb thing to do, Midoriya," Todoroki says, blithely ignoring him. "With you two being.... you two."
He says it like Izuku and Kacchan being Izuku and Kacchan explains every concern Todoroki has about them individually and together. Like Izuku and Kacchan haven't spent most of their lives being some sort of volatile package deal already.
Izuku guesses this might actually be a fair point.
"Yeah well," he says. "I'm doing it anyway."
Todoroki raises a brow.
"Not literally," Izuku snaps and then pauses for a bit. "Yet? That's probably - later, there are other - I mean? No, I'm not thinking about it."
Todoroki's other brow goes up, but the rest of his face is infuriatingly impassive in the face of Izuku's clear mental distress.
"Did you know there are some species of toad that mate for life, even if their mate is dead and rotting?" Izuku says and yes, there was the horror he was looking for.
He can be petty too, and real friends share the trauma.
"I've got more," he threatens. "Unless you've got any more questions that aren't your business?"
"No," Todoroki says." I think you've figured out what to expect from Bakugou pretty well."
Izuku can't help it, he laughs.
"That is awful, oh my god."
Todoroki shrugs at him as he begins melting the ice around Izuku's body. "At least you know he'd be some kind of devoted."
"I want a closed casket at my funeral," Izuku says. "You can tell me 'I told you so' then."
"And I will," Todoroki says, looking over at where everyone is still yelling, Uraraka and Kacchan having expanded their circle to include those in the immediate vicinity. The original owners of the circles are hovering above in the air as collateral damage - or else it was Uraraka's way of getting them out of the danger zone, Izuku honestly can't tell.
"Because this is a dumb thing to do, for the record," Todoroki continues. "Someone's gonna end up burned this time and I don't want it to be you."
Izuku rolls his eyes at all the theatrics he's surrounded himself with. "It'll be fine."
Something comes crashing down close by with a screech; he really hopes that wasn't one of their softer classmates.
"Sure." Todoroki eyes him disbelievingly, but doesn't say anymore.
The thing about Kacchan - one of the many things that Izuku has admired about him over the years - is his complete and utter confidence in moving forward, simply because he believes that there is no other way to go. For better or worse, Kacchan owns his choices with a surety that he is always right and, apparently, surprisingly, the ability to admit when he's not.
Izuku makes his choices and then tends to silently ruminate on all the ways they could, have, and will go wrong until they inevitably go wrong in one of those ways.
He's seen the kind of shit that happens when he makes questionable moves; and while he doesn't let himself regret them for too long, he does try and learn from them so that in the future he can make some less stupidly impulsive choices.
"I'm going to kiss you now," Kacchan announces to their empty classroom once everyone else has left for the day.
"Okay," Izuku says and immediately thinks about how many ways this could go wrong. There's the question of teeth, tongue, and what constitutes as an appropriate first kiss? Shouldn't it be chaste? He thinks it should be chaste. Like, on the cheek chaste.
Which has actually already been achieved. By himself, impulsively.
He would suggest that they take this elsewhere, because the irony of this happening to him in a place of learning is almost too much, but he thinks that might lead to rooms with beds and other, more awkward questions.
This is by far a less hazardous battlefield, even if he is caught unprepared between two desks and slightly blinded in one eye because of the setting sun. It'll do in the face of the alternative, and so he stands his ground, closes his eyes, and braces himself for impact.
Nothing happens. Nothing happens for at least ten seconds.
He didn't consider the worst case scenario: the one where nothing happens.
He opens his eyes to find Kacchan staring at him with a peculiar look on his face.
"Sorry," he says. "I just had this really strong urge to hit you; what the fuck are you doing with your face?"
On the one hand, this is the third time Kacchan has said sorry to him in a 24 hour period and it is still as startling and unnatural as the first time it happened, but also kind of nice.
On the other hand. "That's rude, Kacchan. I thought you said you were over that."
"I'm working on it," Kacchan grunts and shoves his hands in his pockets. "I'm not actually gonna hit you, idiot. I don't even want to. Just give it a second for it to pass."
Izuku grudgingly supposes he can give him that. He's probably not in any position to judge Kacchan's bad habits when he's got so many of his own left unchecked.
Still though, that's not really ideal in a romantic setting, Izuku doesn't think. Some part of him even suspects that punching and kissing should be mutually exclusive even outside of a romantic setting.
Unless Kacchan's like, into that sort of thing.
That actually wouldn't surprise Izuku in the least.
He's still thinking about whether he could accommodate that as a kink or not, given their history, when Kacchan kisses him.
It's quick and closed mouth. Izuku barely has time to process that it's happened before it's over, Kacchan left standing too close and pink in the face.
Even without Izuku's worst case scenarios, it distantly occurs to him that this is all way more vanilla than anything he'd expected from this moment. He expected sparks or, at the very least, some form of aggressiveness.
Passion, he thinks, is the word he wants. He and Kacchan have never been able to treat each other with anything less, even if it just meant that they were passionately at each other's throats.
This is... well. It's actually pretty plain.
"Huh," he says.
Kacchan has his face screwed up like he's thinking the same thing. "So that was fuckin' weird."
It almost sounds like disappointment, like he tried it and found it not worth the effort. And Izuku, in his infinite capacity for panic, does something stupidly impulsive in an effort to change his mind.
"I lied!" Izuku hisses, pulling Todoroki by the arm into a quieter corner of the common area. "It's not fine, I'm a fucking idiot."
Todoroki stares at him.
"I really need you to act like a friend right now and not a statue," Izuku says. "You need to tell me I'm an idiot and then not let me keep doing stupid things."
"I tried," Todoroki hisses back, finally showing emotion in the form of righteous indignation. That's probably deserved. "It's not my fault you never listen when people tell you not to do things for your own damn good."
That's also probably deserved; Izuku can't even defend himself because it's true.
He opens his mouth in a silent wail, mindful of everyone else around throwing curious looks their way. Kirishima looks particularly interested; Izuku suspects he knows exactly what's going on, but from Kacchan's angle.
He resolves to corner Kirishima at some point after this. He's probably got information and insight that Izuku doesn't have and he wants specifics.
"So?" Todoroki sighs. "Do I need to kick Bakugou's ass for something, or yours?"
"Kacchan's been nothing but a gentleman," Izuku says, because at this point defending Kacchan is like reflex, and it's also mostly true.
The problem is that Izuku is apparently less of a gentleman when faced with a challenge and that, apparently, lowers Kacchan's gentlemanly standards accordingly.
He doesn't know why they can't do anything without trying to one-up each other.
"I don't want to know," Todoroki says. "I don't want to know, but I can't judge you if I don't know."
"Did you know that humans are the only species that kiss using tongue," Izuku mutters. "No other species in the animal kingdom does this."
"I was right, I didn't want to know," Todoroki says mournfully. "Why am I always right?"
Izuku would argue this, but this time it is exactly what Todoroki is thinking.
He groans, yanking at his already messed up tie like he could strangle himself if only he pulled on it hard enough. "What do I do?"
Todoroki sighs and tilts his head back to pinch the bridge of his nose; this is, alarmingly, the same move All Might does when Izuku manages to miscalculate and break something important, expensive, and/or himself. All Might is typically more supportive and encouraging than Todoroki though, so Izuku steels himself.
Todoroki sighs again, sounding greatly put upon. "I'd say stop doing dumb shit, but we both know you're going to do it anyway. So instead, I'd say you've gotten pretty good at turning unfavourable situations around, so just do that and get on with it."
Izuku takes it back, that's actually somewhat supportive and encouraging, in Todoroki's own idiosyncratic, blunt way.
He can do that.
He can't do that.
Not that he hasn't been trying, but if Izuku is supposed to turn this whole thing around, he really needs Kacchan to be some measure of cooperative with his efforts, and he is just not being that.
He is, in fact, being oddly behaved. A gentleman. He hasn't tried to kiss Izuku again.
It's been three days.
Izuku stubbornly refuses to have a meltdown over this, but he's tempted. For someone so intent on kissing him to start with, the fact that Kacchan's now seems over it is... well, it's confusing and terrible, because there's so many reasons it could be and Izuku spends a lot of time thinking about which ones are the most likely.
The conclusion he comes to is it's probably his fault; he fucked it up somehow. Too much tongue? The accidental bit of teeth that happened? Didn't Kacchan mention something about his face? What if it's just Izuku? Kacchan did spend a large portion of their lives seemingly repulsed by Izuku's very being, it's probably that.
The only thing that he still has going for him is that Kacchan still seems as receptive and as friendly as he ever gets towards Izuku, and Izuku holds on to that.
It's possible, even likely, that Kacchan has simply decided he'd rather a relationship that didn't involve punching or kissing. Izuku accepts this, because it's still not quite what they could have had, but it's more than he could ever ask.
Which is such a boldfaced fucking lie that Izuku can't even get himself to believe it.
And the real tragedy is that he really, really needs himself to believe it.
He tries so hard to believe it he loses an hour just staring at an All Might poster before it assembles itself into something he actually sees.
The fact that it declares 'Never give up!' in big block letters means less to Izuku than the fact that it's of All Might; the man who helped Izuku scam life into giving him a chance, simply because he never gave up.
So no, fuck this failure-funk he has going on. Izuku has never just settled for what he's been given and he's not about to start now.
He thinks, maybe, the reason he'd never achieved what he'd wanted with Kacchan was because Kacchan just wasn't ready to give it. According to Kacchan, he is now; and Kacchan has never been one to suffer a lack of confidence in the things he's decided to do.
He's also still giving Izuku come-hithery eyes at random times and has started to stand just this side of too close for no apparent reason, which is bolstering.
Putting all of this together, Izuku can only come to two conclusions:
The first is that he was right in his first opinion; that Kacchan, for whatever reason, has changed his mind. It doesn't happen often, but Kacchan's tendency towards moody whims and being a dick for the sake of being a dick means that it isn't unheard of.
The second is more unlikely, and if true, it will be the first recorded instance of such a thing happening; that Kaachan is awkward and unsure about how to move forward.
Just imagining the latter sits weird and wrong in Izuku's head.
Either way, he needs to figure out which it is, because this confusion and distraction is making him kind of testy and everyone is starting to look wary around him again.
Izuku decides it's time to get proactive.