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Izuku vs The Garden Boy

Chapter Text

"Bro! Who's that?" Kirishima asked, voice bright and surprised.

Izuku looked up from searching his backpack for that last pen he knew he had brought with him. From the other side of the small diner booth, Uraraka and Iida's eyes were already glued to Bakugou's usual table. Izuku spotted Kirishima with his hands on his hips, grinning at Kacchan and someone new next to his side as they entered the small diner.

The new boy was fair looking with soft, brown eyes and straight, black hair styled with a long fringe that framed his face. He was about Kacchan's height, only a fraction shorter, and had a warmth about him that made him seem like an easy guy to like—much like Kirishima but calmer. The collared shirt and neat blue jeans only added to the image of friendliness.

He was an oddly appropriate foil to Kacchan's harshness.

Kirishima scrunched his nose as he grinned and laughed brightly. "Are you going to introduce him or what?"

"Yeah, Katsuki," new boy said. He took Kacchan's hand and laced their fingers together. Izuku sat up higher in his seat. The new boy squeezed Kacchan's hand with a teasing smirk and leaned on Kacchan's arm. "Introduce me."

"This is Daiki," Kacchan said, face flushing red as the new boy curled his arm so that their bodies were flush. Kacchan swayed their linked hands a fraction, before squeezing it back. "My boyfriend."

Izuku dropped his book, but the clatter went unnoticed with the shock of everyone else who'd chosen to crash at the diner for the impromptu study session.

"Nice to meet you," Kirishima said, oblivious to the curious staring that had engulfed the rest of the room and had centered on his conversation with Kacchan and Daiki. "I guess this explains where Bakugou's been running off to so fast every day after school."

"Guilty," Daiki said, still leaning on Kacchan's arm. "I've been stealing his free time rather liberally. I'd apologize, but I'm not really sorry about it."

Kacchan snorted and shoved Daiki playfully in the side with his elbow, but didn't let go of his hand.

Izuku had noticed Kacchan disappeared fairly often these past two months, but Izuku always assumed he was just out training.

Not. Not whatever this was.

"So how'd you two meet?" Kirishima asked. "You're not a U.A. Student, right?"

"No, I go to a local high school down the street," Daiki said. He tilted his head to the side, knocking his bangs across his cheek, revealing a slight curl to the strands. "Katsuki and I ran into each other while he was jogging—literally. He knocked over all the garden pots I was carrying and helped me clean them up. I thought he was cute, asked for his number, and well," Daiki bit his lip. "The rest is kind of obvious."

"That sounds adorable," Kirishima said, leaning his chin on his hand as Ashido cooed next to him with a wide grin. "Though I'm surprised Bakugou ran into you. He's usually got better reflexes than that."

Kacchan huffed and flushed a deep red, looking off to the side.

Daiki raised a hand to the side of his cheek and whispered, "He said later he was too distracted by how pretty I was to pay attention to where he was going."

Kirishima burst out laughing alongside Daiki and Kacchan shoved the two of them while sputtering out exclamations of denial, proven false by the red still on his cheeks.

Izuku felt a weird, squirming sensation in his gut and discretely dismissed himself from the table to head home before he could linger too long on what that meant.


 

Daiki had become a common fixture around Kacchan whenever they weren't in school. To say they were glued at the hip was an understatement and people had started to refer to them as a couple nearly all the time.

Everyone loved Daiki. He was smart, kind, and had a wicked sense of humor that made even Iida chuckle. His grades, however, were on par with Kaminari's which gave him enough of a character flaw to keep him from being too perfect. Plus, anyone who could turn Kacchan into a softer person just by being around had been labeled a miracle worker in their books. Sure, Kacchan still had his fiery personality and short temper, but it quickly fizzled out with a touch to the hand or kiss on the cheek from Daiki.

It reminded Izuku of when Kacchan's mother would soften and coo whenever Kacchan's father did something romantic or kissed her on the cheek.

Kacchan and Daiki were positively domestic and adorable and Izuku had never wanted to send a Detroit Smash straight into someone's face more in his life.

(He really didn't know where this ugliness was coming from, but it was becoming a concern.)

Izuku concentrated on his homework as he sat at the coffee table, attempting to ignore the happy couple behind him on the couch.

Yaoyorozu had started having study sessions at her house every weekend when the diner complained of their rowdiness, and the entire class had been invited to come since there was more than enough room. Every session ended up with one or two people studying while everyone else hung out, which was fine, but eventually the invitation had been extended to Kacchan's boyfriend as well and that's when it all went south.

Izuku grew tense as Daiki helped himself to a seat in Kacchan's lap behind him, despite there being an open seat on the spacious couch. Kirishima and Ashido sat on Kacchan's opposite side, flipping through the television and not even blinking at the public display of affection between Daiki and Kacchan.

They were always that cuddly and it ate away at Izuku's soul like acid dissolving everything in its path. He focused on the numbers of his math homework, but ultimately failed.

Every brush of Daiki's long fingers in Kacchan's fluffy hair felt like a glaring beacon attempting to capture all of Izuku's attention. Despite his best efforts, it was hard not to watch the two of them from the corner of his eye: He saw the way Daiki fit into Kacchan's side, slender and tucked neatly under Kacchan's toned arm. Izuku noticed the way their breathing had synced; twin chests moving up and down together. Daiki tucked both his legs in-between Kacchan's thighs, gently rested his his fingers along Kacchan's belt line and tested every inch of Izuku's willpower to not walk over and rip them apart.

(He really needed to talk about these intrusive thoughts with someone before they got out of hand.)

"Hey, Daiki," Mineta said, walking into the main room from the kitchen with a bowl of snacks in his hand. Sero scoffed behind him and flushed red, hissing, "Don't!" under his breath. Mineta continued on, pouting. "Settle a bet: Is your Quirk the ability to calm people down or something else? Because I think it's the first one. Bakugou's never been turned by a pretty face before, so this animal tamer thing you've got going on has got to be Quirk related."

"I am so sorry," Sero said, covering his face and shrinking under Kacchan's glare. "We were joking around and he took it too seriously."

Daiki laughed and waved it off. He ruffled Kacchan's hair, immediately calming him down and Izuku started to wonder if Mineta had called it. A Quirk like that would explain so much, though it would also cause some concern if it had been abused to tame Kacchan. Daiki's smile softened, amused at Mineta's antics. "It's okay. No harm in asking, but I don't have a calming Quirk."

"What is your Quirk, anyway?" Kirishima asked, looking up from the Television. "I don't think you ever said."

"Oh, that's because I don't have one," Daiki said. Izuku looked up from his homework, eyes widening. His pen slipped out of his hand and clattered on the table. Daiki shrugged with a sheepish expression and bit the tip of his finger. "I'm Quirkless."

"And Kacchan still likes you?" Izuku blurted, louder than he'd intended. His brain connected to his mouth without permission, finishing the thought: "He doesn't think you're a Quirkless loser?"

Izuku regretted the comment immediately, but too many flashbacks of middle school assaulted his brain to let him access common sense.

It came back fast enough when Izuku realized Daiki looked like he'd been slapped and everyone had turned toward Izuku with varying expressions of horror and confusion. Only Kacchan avoided looking at him, eyes focused on the coffee table and Izuku's school work.

"Dude," Kirishima said, mouth dropping. He looked like a kicked puppy, empathetic to the end. "Midoriya. That was harsh, man."

"That came out really wrong," Izuku said. He sucked in a breath and swallowed, holding his hands up. Izuku's pulse quickened and his brain struggled to come up with an answer that would be acceptable. "I mean. I just."

Izuku had no way to explain himself without outing Kacchan's bullying in middle school and ruining his relationship with Daiki or admitting that Izuku used to be Quirkless—neither of which he could do.

"I'm sorry," Izuku said, sinking into the floor and leaning forward onto the coffee table. He rubbed the back of his neck and moved his other hand back and forth on his thigh, not sure what else he could say. "That just…came out wrong."

"Ah, it's okay," Daiki said. His smile didn't quite come back but he definitely looked hurt. He squeezed Kacchan a little closer with a shrug. "I'm used to it. You aren't the first to think that I'm a loser for not having a Quirk."

Izuku shook his head and stood up, arms waving. "I don't! I mean. I don't think that at all! I just was surprised and—"

He cut himself off at the silent glares sent his way, and the concern on Iida and Uraraka's faces. Yaoyorozu and Todoroki looked disappointed, and even Mineta had a serious expression on his face. Izuku shrunk in on himself and looked to the side. "I'll just go home now."

Izuku grabbed his things and hurried out of the common room, ignoring the people who called after him and hating that he was still more upset about Kacchan's arm tightening around Daiki's waist than he was for the unthoughtful slip of the tongue.


 

"Oi, Deku." Kacchan said, banging on the back of Izuku's door. He didn't sound angry, but the heavy knocking demanded entry. "Open up."

Izuku opened his bedroom door and faced the inevitable. "Hey, Kacchan."

"Your mom let me in," Kacchan said, explaining his presence in Izuku's home. He pushed his way into the small bedroom and kicked the door closed behind him with his heel. He paused for a minute with his hands in his pockets and shifted on his other leg. "I told Daiki you're an awkward little shit, so he's cool about the 'Quirkless Loser' comment from yesterday."

"I'm still sorry I blurted that out," Izuku said, noting that Kacchan had yet to look at him directly. Instead, he seemed very interested in the All Might figurines on Izuku's desk. Kacchan poked it in the head, titling it to the side while Izuku gathered his thoughts. "I was just sort of shocked because you're you and I never thought you'd date someone without a Quirk after you gave me such a hard time for all those years."

It's why Izuku had given up on even trying to ask Kacchan out when they were younger, and then later when he got a Quirk it felt too awkward to confirm Kacchan's shallowness by seeing if he'd say 'yes' now that Izuku had a Quirk.

He'd worked very hard at denying that he had a crush on Kacchan and Daiki had thrown that all out of the window and now Izuku found himself plagued with "What If" scenarios.

"Besides," Izuku said, rushing to add it in before Kacchan could talk or his own thoughts could get too carried away. "If I told everyone about you, I'd have to explain that I used to be Quirkless and I can't do that without explaining how I got a Quirk and I still can't tell anyone about that—I'm still sorry I can't tell you by the way—and then—"

"Whatever," Kacchan said, cutting off Izuku's ramble. He leaned on the bedroom door, brows scrunched together, almost concerned as his mouth itched to form a new sentence that didn't quite want to come out.

Izuku took a guess at what was eating at him: "I'm not going to tell him, Kacchan."

"Excuse me?" Kacchan asked, glaring.

"That's why you're really here, right?" Izuku asked. He took a few steps back and sat on his bed, pulling his knees up. "You don't want me to tell Daiki about middle school, right?"

"Like you would," Kacchan said, muttering under his breath. He scratched the back of his hair, digging into his scalp. He dropped his hand and huffed. "I told Daiki I'd let you know he wasn't mad so it wasn't awkward next time you saw each other, so that's what I did and now I'm done."

"Kacchan, wait!" Izuku shouted, sitting up and dropping his feet back to the floor.

"What, loser?" Kacchan asked.

"Do you really like this guy? Like, seriously?" Izuku asked, almost hesitant. He rubbed his arm and pressed his lips together. "Quirk thing aside, you've never really been interested in that sort of thing. Dating, I mean."

"Why do you care?" Kacchan asked.

Maybe Izuku wanted to know if Kacchan was just in it for the make out sessions with a pretty face, to let off some steam, or if Kacchan really was thinking long term getting married dating.

The first one Izuku could live with.

The second, he was starting to realize might cause some problems.

"Just curious," Izuku said. He gripped his sleeve and looked at the floor. "I've known you my entire life and this feels like it came out of the blue."

Kacchan stared at Izuku and rubbed the side of his nose. After an awkward two minutes he bit his lip and shrugged, sounding downright flustered—which was weird to hear coming from the usually confident Kacchan. "I think I do. Like him, I mean. Probably. I don't know. We've only been dating like two months, so who knows?"

Two months too long.

(Izuku mentally hit himself. Not the time. It was not the time for that.)

"That's true. And dating's supposed to be fun, right? No need to make it so serious," Izuku said. He rubbed his arm and changed the subject before Kacchan could think too hard about his feelings for Daiki. "Anyway, I'm glad he's not mad. And I am sorry I said what I did. I know how that feels to hear."

"Yeah," Kacchan said. He swallowed and opened Izuku's door. "I'll see you at school tomorrow."

"Bye, Kacchan."

Izuku waved as Kacchan left, falling back onto his bed. He covered his eyes and breathed in as he calmed down before going back to his homework.

That night, his dreams were filled with Kacchan and Daiki getting married.

He probably should have felt worse that each dream ended with Izuku crashing the wedding and stealing Kacchan away like a Villain.

Chapter Text

“I’ve liked Kacchan since I was four and seeing him date Daiki is killing me inside.”

Izuku dropped this bomb of a revelation on Iida and Uraraka during lunch break one week after the regretful incident at Yaoyorozu’s house. He still had yet to see Daiki in person to confirm what Kacchan had said about him not being angry, but that didn’t stop him from seeing Daiki and Kacchan together in his dreams.

Every night.

(There were only so many times he could break up a happy couple before he started feeling guilty about it, even if always felt good at first to break Daiki’s pretty face in.)

As a result, Izuku’s thoughts had gotten a bit focused on one topic. Specifically, Kacchan’s dating life and how Izuku could weasel his way into it.

Which meant Izuku needed to confess to someone that he liked Kacchan before it burst out at the wrong time or the wrong place or in front of the wrong people.

Controlled outbursts had less damage control he needed to worry about.

But that didn’t mean he actually gave thought to everything he was saying as he spilled his overflowing guts to his dearest friends.

“I want to break them up,” Izuku said, half in awe at his own emotions. Daiki and Kacchan were so good for each other, too. That was the worst part of all of this. They were so happy together (and Kacchan’s grumpy-happy face was so adorable it made Izuku’s heart beat faster every time he saw it). But Izuku still wanted to shove Daiki out of the picture. Izuku leaned forward, clutching his hands into his hair, staring at the untouched pudding cup on his tray. “I want to be a homewrecker. Heroes aren’t homewreckers. What do I do?”

“I think to be a homewrecker they’d have to be married and Bakugou would have to cheat on Daiki with you,” Uraraka said, waving her spoon around. She bit off the last dab of her own half-eaten pudding and shrugged. “So you might be getting ahead of yourself, there.”

Iida appeared to have no input as he looked between Izuku and Kacchan with a confused expression, like he could not wrap his mind around Izuku having a crush on Kacchan. His eyes refused to stay focused on any one point as the thoughts whirled around in his brain like an overactive engine.

Izuku couldn’t blame him for the confusion, really. He wasn’t sure why he liked Kacchan either aside from the fact that in addition to his horrific temper and mean-spirited nature, Kacchan was unfairly handsome, determined, strong, intelligent, had an unwavering spirit, an ego that Izuku couldn’t help but be envious of at times, wonderful parents that would be ideal in-laws, and Kacchan sobbed when he was upset revealing his more sensitive side.

No one knew that last part because Kacchan never cried when anyone was around, save for Izuku who always seemed to catch Kacchan at his worst one way or another and that made him a special fixture in Kacchan’s life to be able to witness that one side of him—

“I wonder if Daiki knows Kacchan’s a crybaby,” Izuku said, wondering if that might be the deal breaker that destroyed their picture perfect union of teenage romance. Kacchan’s ugly sobs could only be endearing to so many people (like Izuku, who also happened to shed tears far too often). He groaned and ruffled his hair. “No, wait. That’d still be trying to break them up which is a bad thing, and even worse, he might like it and I’ll have dug myself into an even deeper hole!”

Izuku paused as Uraraka bit her lip, threatening to giggle.

Wait. He’d said something he shouldn’t have, didn’t he?

Izuku slammed his hands down on the table. “I didn’t say anything about Kacchan! You heard nothing!”

“Right, right,” Uraraka said, looking like the cat that caught the mouse. Oh, she was going to bring this up later. Izuku felt it in his soul. She licked her spoon free of a fresh bite of pudding. “Didn’t hear a thing.”

“Uraraka,” Izuku said. He leaned forward putting every effort into appearing serious. “He will kill me. He will know who mentioned…that—that thing we’re never mentioning again and he will murder me.”

“At least then you won’t have to worry about, Daiki!” Uraraka said, bursting into giggles.

Izuku placed his head on the table and shoved his tray toward her. She gleefully took his uneaten pudding cup and he sighed. Glancing at Iida he asked, “Do you have anything to add?”

“If you and Bakugou started dating and he proves to be as clingy with you as he is with Daiki, that would mean he would hang out with us more often. I believe attempting to control his rebellious behavior on a more frequent basis would give me a heart attack,” Iida said. He stared at Izuku and fixed his glasses. “That would be very bad for my hero career. Have you considered dating someone who’s fond of keeping the rules instead?”

“How did you jump from my jealous panic over Daiki to picturing how things would be if Kacchan was dating me?” Izuku asked.

“Because you are a good person with a promising career ahead of you. You have a long list of wonderful traits and qualities that make you an great friend and ideal potential partner. Also, you have a much longer personal history Bakugou,” Iida said. “If you were to ask him out, I’m sure he would choose you over Daiki.”

“Oh,” Izuku said, his cheeks heating.

“Iida’s right, you know,” Uraraka said. She twirled her spoon a circle. “You’re a good guy, Deku. You could get anyone you wanted if you just put yourself out there and asked.”

“Yeah, but it’s Kacchan,” Izuku said, rubbing his hands together. Iida and Uraraka meant well but they didn’t understand. They were also giving him way too much credit. Izuku did not have that much appeal, and Kacchan was a hard one to win over even without their rather shaky history. “That just makes everything complicated and besides, I feel like breaking up a relationship just because I didn’t ask Kacchan out soon enough would be unfair to everybody.”

“You’ll just have to wait and see then,” Uraraka said. She reached over and patted Izuku on the head. “And in the meantime, we’ll help keep your jealousy under control. Right, Iida?”

“Yes,” Iida said. He nodded in confirmation. “It is the least we can do.”

“You guys are so great,” Izuku sniffed.

What did he ever do to deserve such wonderful friends?

“But anyway, go back to the part about Bakugou being a crybaby, because that’s the best thing I’ve heard all year,” Uraraka said, grinning wide.

Izuku should have never saved her from that test robot.


Saturday found Izuku in the heart of town with a small shopping list for his mother. She wanted to pick some things up but didn’t want to miss her lunch date with Mrs. Bakugou, so being the good son that he was, Izuku volunteered to get them for her. He’d been out for a few hours now in the warm heat of the day and felt satisfied with his shopping progress.

“Okay, all I need is a new set of dish rags and I’ll be done,” Izuku said, folding the list in half. He looked down the street, running through his mind where the best place to pick those up would be.

Lost in his own thoughts, he almost didn’t notice when Daiki said hello.

“Out running errands?” Daiki asked after their initial pleasantries had been traded. He pushed one side of his fringe behind his ear.

“Yeah,” Midoriya said, holding his collection of shopping bags up in one arm. “For my mom.”

“That’s nice of you. I wish I was so noble, but I’m garden shopping today, which is all for me,” Daiki said, perfectly polite. Izuku glanced around him, wondering where Kacchan was and if shopping for Daiki’s mysterious garden project was a normal date for them. Daiki caught his searching look and shook his head. “Katsuki’s not with me. I know we hang out a lot, but we don’t spend every waking second together, I swear.”

“Sorry!” Midoriya said, immediately holding up both his arms. The shopping bags clattered around his wrists. He grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t meant to assume, but you and Kacchan have been spending all your Saturdays together for the past few months that I almost just expected him to be here with you. Like you picked up on. And already corrected. Now I’m rambling and I’m sorry.”

Daiki waved his hand back and forth. “It’s fine. I’m sorry I make you so nervous.”

Izuku would be almost grateful that were true. “Nervous” would be the last word Izuku picked to describe the squirming in his gut every time he saw the other boy.

“Maybe it’s because we’ve never had a chance to really talk to each other?” Daiki asked. He took a step toward the wall of the building and Izuku followed to continue their conversation outside of foot traffic. “You’re not in Katsuki’s usual circle of friends, so I don’t see you as much.”

“That’s true,” Izuku said, as if that was the only reason. Izuku hadn’t been avoiding Daiki as much as possible to lower his temptation to be jealous, but he couldn’t exactly say that.

A small silence fell between them and Izuku sweat; he had no idea what to talk about now.

“I was wondering about that, though,” Daiki said. He turned his head, knocking the hair back out from behind his ear. It covered his eye just enough to add to the thoughtful expression. “You’re close with Katsuki right? He doesn’t talk about you much, but I mean, you call him that cute nickname all the time so you’re either good friends or teasing him. I’d like to think it’s the first one.”

“Our parents are friends and we’ve known each other our entire lives, even if we sort of grew apart in middle school,” Izuku said. Daiki considered that information, eyes to the side as Izuku talked. “I called him Kacchan when I was little because I couldn’t pronounce his name correctly, and he called me ‘Deku’ because he read the characters in my name wrong and refused to admit he messed up. The names just sort of stuck after that and now it’s hard to picture calling him anything else.”

Izuku discretely left out the second meaning that his Hero Name had acquired thanks to Kacchan now that it’d reached it’s full potential with it’s third iteration.

“That’s cute,” Daiki said. He crossed his arms over his chest and his eyes focused on Izuku’s face. “But if you two grew apart, how did you know we go out every Saturday? Most people know we hang out after school on weekdays, but he doesn’t usually tell people about our Saturday dates.”

“I pay attention to things,” Izuku said. Like Kacchan. He paid a lot of attention to Kacchan when they were young and now. All the time. And he might occasionally see what Kacchan was texting on his phone during class. Or talked to Kacchan’s mother on weekends. Izuku knew more about Kacchan than Daiki would ever be able to know—Izuku slammed the brakes on those thoughts. He forced a shrug and felt his smile strain. “If he’s not home and he’s not at his usual haunts, I can pretty safely assume he’s with you these days.”

“I see,” Daiki said. He studied Izuku a second longer and something flashed in his eyes that Izuku knew full well was a challenge. He raised his hand and waved. “It was nice talking with you, but like I said, I’ve still got some things of my own to pick up. See you later, Midoriya!”

“Bye,” Izuku said.

He couldn’t pinpoint the exact thought that had entered Daiki’s mind, but he was pretty sure that Daiki had just identified Izuku as a threat to his relationship with Kacchan.

Izuku smothered the bubbling sensation of glee at the thought.


“If you were going to actually go forward with that plan to break them up,” Uraraka said, “I think you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

Everything had gone wrong.

At first, Izuku had been proud he could be considered a threat. He continued with this foolish pride all the way up until the moment he realized Daiki was the type to fight back for what he wanted.

“You have to admit that he appears to be quite skilled in floriculture,” Iida said, staring with the same wide eyes as the rest of Class 1-A as they hit the center of the small back yard. “It’s wise that it appears to be his future profession of choice.”

Daiki fought dirty.

“I’m really glad you could all be here to see my garden’s debut,” Daiki said, clapping his hands together. He had swapped out his “next door neighbor dress casual” look for something a bit more form fitting, with tight jeans and an flattering, form fitting shirt. “I’ve been working on it really hard these past two months and I hope that the judges look as amazed as you do.”

Daiki’s back yard garden was pristine and covered every inch of the small fenced in area. Done in a European style, Izuku and his class found themselves surrounded by flowering plants that were all well cared for, trimmed, neat, and full of color and life. It was the sort of thing you saw in magazines and every flower bed had been labeled neatly with the plant species name, breed, and lot.

Everything in the garden had been arranged around the main centerpiece: A large rose bush bursting with blooms that Daiki had been selectively breeding to be the perfect shade of red.

The same shade of red as Kacchan’s eyes.

“No, I take that back,” Daiki said. He looked to the side, right past the rest of the students wandering around the flower covered lot and locked his gaze with Izuku’s. “The judges are definitely going to be impressed. I entered this garden competition to win it, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

“Hell yeah you are,” Kacchan said, proud and grinning.

Daiki had learned to speak Kacchan’s language.

“Thank you, Katsuki,” Daiki said. He grabbed Kacchan’s hand and squeezed it. He had turned away from Izuku, but Daiki was well aware that Izuku was still glaring in his direction. He tugged Kacchan closer. “You definitely helped make things easier by carrying all that mulch and plant food for me, so you deserve a little credit, too.”

Kacchan flushed. “Yeah, well. Someone had to do all the heavy lifting with your skinny arms.”

“Bakugou’s almost as red as those roses!” Kaminari yelled, laughing. He turned to his best friend and snorted. “Or Kirishima’s hair.”

“Shut up!” Kacchan yelled.

As Kacchan distracted himself with his friends, Daiki turned back toward Izuku. They held each other’s gaze from their opposite sides of the garden, waiting for the other to make the first move. Daiki kept his advantage and snipped one of his prize roses off the bush, stripping it of its thorns as he crossed the yard. Daiki made sure to make eye contact with Izuku as he stuck the rose in Kacchan’s front shirt pocket. The other stopped yelling at Kaminari long enough to look down at the flower before he grinned and went back to yelling.

It was as good as a declaration of ownership.

Izuku gripped his fist tight, One for All sparking all along the uppermost layer of his skin.

Daiki and Kacchan weren’t the only ones determined to be number one.

Chapter Text

Operation “Get rid of Daiki and get Kacchan back” had officially begun.

“Wouldn’t you have needed to date Bakugou first and then have been dumped in order to get him back?” Iida asked, adjusting his glasses as he stared at the small notebook page Izuku had labeled with the operation name. “Because as it is now, if you did break him and Daiki up you would be dating him for the first time and that would mean your title makes no sense. On a side note, I still think that you could do better should you open your dating pool a little.”

“That’s not the point,” Izuku said. Uraraka snacked on popcorn next to him as they sat in the park on the bench. He stole a few kernels for himself before making small dots on the page. “Focus on the goal at hand.”

“I still think it’s an incorrect statement,” Iida said. He held his hand up, palm flat and jerked his arm down in a swiping motion to emphasize his words. “A more appropriate title might be Operation ‘Get rid of Daiki and date Bakugou on the Rebound’ or something to that extent.”

“The name of our operation doesn’t matter,” Izuku said. He loved his friend, he did. But the semantics were not the issue at the moment! Izuku scribbled his pen through the title and went back to the notes below it. “Okay, so how are we going to break them up?”

“You should probably start with figuring out why they’re dating in the first place,” Uraraka said. She crumpled her now empty bag of snack popcorn and threw it away in the nearest trash can. “If you know what they like about each other, it might be easier to highlight the things they don’t like about each other to create a wedge. At the same time, if you figure out what Bakugou likes, then you can emphasize those traits in yourself to catch his attention better.”

“That’s a great idea,” Izuku said. He wrote Daiki’s name above his soon-to-be list and the word “Pros” next to it. “Let’s see.”

He hovered his pen over the first point and paused. Izuku had been so focused on Kacchan’s favorable reactions to Daiki that he hadn’t quite paid too much attention to what had caused them in the first place. The end results had been too distracting! What did Kacchan see in Daiki?

“He’s cute,” Uraraka said, pointing to the first spot and tapped her fingers. “That’s how they got together in the first place. Daiki thought Bakugou was handsome, and Bakugou fell all over himself stunned by Daiki’s pretty face.”

Izuku wrote the point down and felt the first lump in his throat settle. If Kacchan really did just like Daiki for his looks, then Izuku couldn’t compete. He was cute, to be sure, but not beautiful in the same way Daiki was. If Kacchan were shallow and looks were his top priority, Izuku would be out of luck.

“He’s also competitive,” Iida said, holding his fist in the air. “Bakugou was rather enamored and openly proud of Daiki’s bold declaration that he would win the garden competition.”

Competitive. Izuku had that one down, no problem. One point in his favor secured!

“What else?” Izuku said. He tapped his pen against his lip and stared at the paper. “Daiki’s physically affectionate, but I don’t know if Kacchan likes that part or just tolerates it because he’s trying to be good boyfriend. But then again, Kacchan doesn’t do anything unless he likes it, so he probably likes that Daiki is a cuddler. But then again, Daiki already makes Kacchan do things he wouldn’t normally do, like calm down and blush and get flustered so I don’t know.”

“Slow down there,” Uraraka said. She poked Izuku’s shoulder and pointed at the page. “Just write that Bakugou likes the attention, because we all know that he thrives on that. Daiki’s very attentive to Bakugou’s moods, so I bet he gets a kick out of that.”

“Right,” Izuku said. He wrote it down on his ever growing list.

No one paid more attention to Kacchan that Izuku did, which meant he was two out of three so far on positive traits.

Things were looking up!

“You know, I thought this was a good idea at first, but we have no idea what they’re like when they’re alone,” Uraraka said. She tapped her cheek and leaned back, crossing her ankles. “That’s a pretty big thing to overlook. Like what if Daiki’s also sensitive to Bakugou’s troubles and listens to him, or what if on the other hand it’s Bakugou that’s Daiki’s support system and he likes being there to help.”

“That is an excellent point,” Iida said. He looked down at the grass and crossed his arms over his chest. Frowning he said. “And provides an impressive stumbling block. The only way to obtain that information would be to spy on them, and that is inappropriate behavior fitting of budding heroes such as ourselves.”

“Yeah, you’re right. And asking them is straight out because then they’d know what we’re up to,” Uraraka said. She stretched her arms over her head and stood up from the park bench. “We’ll just have to pay more attention to them over the next week and see if we can’t fill out the list further now that we know what to look for. Does that sound okay, Deku?”

“Yes!” Izuku said. He closed his notebook and held it to his chest. Izuku licked his lip and nodded in agreement. “We definitely need more information.”

Uraraka stared at Izuku for a long beat, studying his face before she smiled and held her hand up. “I’ll see you boys on Monday! Have a good weekend!”

“Bye,” Izuku said.

“I must be going as well,” Iida said. He held his hand up to wave and said. “Enjoy the rest of your Saturday.”

Izuku sat on the bench staring at the top of the notebook. Saturday. His eyes opened a little wider and his back straightened. Saturday’s were date days. Izuku checked his watch, it was still fairly early and Kacchan didn’t typically leave his house for the date until just before lunch. If he left now, he could catch Kacchan and tail him to see what a date with Daiki was like.

Though Iida and Uraraka had agreed would be a bad idea, maybe even unethical. Spying on people during a private date wasn’t a thing good people did. It was a violation of privacy and intrusive! Izuku would be be confused for a common pervert if he did that!

Izuku tapped his fingers along the edge of his notebook spine. But on the other hand, there was no question that Izuku needed more information. To get more information, you had to observe a subject.

Clinically, neatly. Just taking notes and being objective.

He wouldn’t be “spying” on their date if he happened to follow them around, he’d just be observing. There was nothing wrong with that, right?

He shoved his notebook in his bag and sprinted for his house to grab a darker pair of clothes and to get a portable notebook he could shove in his pocket.


Izuku had had many a bad idea during his lifetime, but this might have been the worst of them all.

Why didn’t he listen to Iida? Iida was a little strict when it came to following the rules, but he was also reasonable and smart and knew better than to follow other people around on their dates. Uraraka had even agreed with him and she, too, had a good head on her shoulders and knew better than to follow a couple around on a date.

But Izuku had wanted more info and curiosity had him by the throat and now he was stuck.

When Kacchan and Daiki had finished their walk around downtown, hand in hand in quiet company with the occasional snide remark at a passerby, they browsed one store for Kacchan’s training gear before stopping to pick up a couple warm drinks to go. The two of them then continued their walk, heading into a park. Izuku had lost sight of them in a crowd and in a desperate attempt to find them again, had climbed a tall tree in the corner of the park for a better vantage point.

This proved to both very effective and a big issue at the same time.

He had definitely found them, however Izuku hadn’t expected the happy couple to choose that exact tree to settle down, sitting together at the base. As he gripped the side of the tree, hoping for some sort of noise to cover his escape out of the tree, Izuku came to the horrifying conclusion that this area of the park had become rather secluded. With the sun setting, the two of them were perfectly alone, save for the very stupid hero-in-training who had trapped himself in the top branches, struggling to stay as silent as possible before they noticed his rustling against the leaves.

And would it kill for it to be a windy day? Izuku cursed the still weather with every tremble as he maintained his position on a far-too-weak branch. A heavy wind would rustle the branches enough for him to jump out using One for All, but nature would not be kind to Izuku today.

(It probably wanted to teach him a lesson.)

“I ran into Midoriya the other day,” Daiki said, swirling his tea with an emptied honey stick. He held the warm drink in his lap, legs stretched out in the grass. His shoulder fit snuggly against Kacchan’s side as they both used the tree as a backrest. “I didn’t realize you two were so close. I wish I had someone I’ve known for that many years. It must be nice having had a friend for so long.”

“Yeah right. The twerp wishes we were close friends,” Kacchan said, popping the lid off his coffee. He dumped a packet of sugar into the mix and replaced the lid, swirling the cup. “Deku’s practically a stalker. No matter how much I told him to get lost, he continued following me around and sticking his nose where it didn’t belong. Now we have to work together, so I guess it’s whatever, but he still needs to learn to stay out of my space.”

(Izuku tried very hard not to be offended by being called a stalker when he was in fact at that moment stalking Kacchan; he failed—he was very offended. He didn’t stalk people! He analyzed and collected information! That was entirely different and he would absolutely explain that to Kacchan at a later date—as soon as he thought of a good excuse to explain how he had heard Kacchan call him a stalker in the first place.)

“I got the impression that he’s rather fond of you,” Daiki said, sipping his tea. He tapped his empty stick against the side of the cup. “Now I have to wonder why since you’ve made it clear you don’t like him.”

“Can we not talk about Deku?” Kacchan asked, shoving his cup in the dirt next to him. He slouched further down the trunk and knocked his knee into Daiki’s. “I’m still pissed that little brat and half-n-half beat me and Kirishima in the last mock battle. Two extra seconds and I would have had them, too! Stupid timed battles.”

(Izuku held in the snort.)

“No more ‘Deku’, I’ve got it,” Daiki said. He reached over to set his cup in the dirt next to the coffee cup on Kacchan’s other side. Instead of moving all the way back, Daiki took advantage of their “private” moment and snuggled into Kacchan’s chest. “I didn’t really want to keep talking about him either. I’m not even sure why I brought him up.”

Kacchan grunted, putting an arm around Daiki’s shoulder. “Yeah?”

“I got a little jealous talking with him, I think,” Daiki said. He tapped his fingers on Kacchan’s chest, digging his fingers into the fabric of Kacchan’s shirt. “He’s known you for so long that I felt inadequate standing next to him, wondering what memories of you that I don’t get to have.”

Izuku held his breath. Of all the subjects he could be overhearing, he himself had to come up. What were the odds of that? Izuku clung to the tree trunk, digging his forehead into the bark and took in his situation. He’d followed Kacchan and Daiki around on a date. Izuku had forgotten dates often were intimate. He just wanted to see them walk around, not have legitimate heart to hearts.

His stomach sank; he shouldn’t be listening to this.

“Don’t be stupid,” Kacchan said. He dug his fingers into Daiki’s hair, far too gentle. He cradled the back of Daiki’s head in a way that Izuku ached to feel on his own scalp. “Any new memories I make with you are a thousand times better than anything Deku remembers about me from middle school.”

Izuku covered his mouth with his hand to control the hitch in his breath.

(He really, really, should not be listening to this.)

“Is that so?” Daiki asked. He crawled up and moved to sit in Kacchan’s lap, straddling Kacchan’s hips. Izuku needed to look away, but he couldn’t. He stared openly as Daiki put his hands on Kacchan’s shoulders, slipping them up his neck to just behind his ears. Daiki leaned over and kissed Kacchan, tugging his head up for a better angle. “Why don’t you tell me a few?”

“I can do that, but I’m having a hard time thinking of one,” Kacchan said. He grabbed Daiki’s hips, fingers digging in hard as he shifted to a better position. “Might jog my memory if you kiss me again.”

Izuku should not be watching this.

“How about we trade?” Daiki asked. He kissed Kacchan hard on the mouth again, knocking their heads into the tree. Daiki’s hips twisted into Kacchan’s and Izuku shifted his own legs in response to the new squirming in his gut as he kept watching. Daiki pulled back, breath heavy. “You give me a memory for every kiss and if we get to five…” Daiki trailed off, pulling a hand down and tugging the top of Kacchan’s belt up. “I’ll take you home and we can make some real memories.”

Izuku’s heart stuck in his throat and he dug his nails so hard into his cheeks that he left indents.

“I can work with that,” Kacchan said. He sat up and rolled them over, slamming Daiki onto his back. Kacchan hovered over him, covering his full line of sight, thankfully preventing Daiki from seeing Izuku hover above them in the tree. Kacchan boxed Daiki in with his elbows, covering the slimmer form with his broad shoulders. “Was that first one a freebie or are we starting now?”

Izuku couldn’t see his face, but he watched Daiki wrap his arms around Kacchan’s neck, tugging him down and digging fingers into Kacchan’s wild hair. “Starting now. if we don’t hurry up, someone might actually find us back here. So let’s go: What’s your favorite memory with me?”

“When you dropped that bag of potting soil on your carpet because you didn’t want me to help you carry it,” Kacchan said, his shoulders shaking. “The face you made still makes me laugh. I thought it was going to stick that way, horrified that dirt was going to be trapped there forever and your mother would kill you.”

“That’s a good memory, huh?” Daiki asked. Izuku could hear the irritation behind the laugh.

“You never complained about me helping carry your shit after that, so yeah, it was a good one,” Kacchan said. He tugged Daiki’s shirt out from his pants and slipped his hand underneath the fabric. “Kiss number two?”

Izuku looked away as Kacchan ducked down and he heard the wet sound that accompanied open mouths meeting.

Stuck in the tree, Izuku found himself utterly trapped and miserable as Kacchan listed three more intimate memories Izuku should not have been privy to between more and more heated touches and groaning. By the time the promised fifth memory had dropped (Something far, far too sweet where Kacchan remembered Daiki like his omelettes with mushrooms because he had snuck them into a shopping bag when Kacchan had offered to cook breakfast), Izuku felt like the dirt being crushed under Daiki’s spine.

The sun had long vanished, leaving behind a dark sky, and Izuku had resolved not to look down any further. He could hear the rustle of clothes and the soft panting, but he would not look.

(He’d invaded this moment far too much already.)

“Come on,” Daiki said, after what felt like hours though Izuku supposed it had only been ten or fifteen minutes. “It’s dark and I’d rather finish this inside.”

“Tease,” Kacchan said, though his voice was hoarse it wasn’t angry. He sniffed and Izuku listened to the clink of his belt latch being fixed. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s go home already.”

The two collected their things and Izuku watched as they hurried out of the park, their urgency written all over their disheveled clothes and Daiki’s energetic laughter. When they were long out of sight, Izuku dropped out of the tree and into the dirt.

He had wanted more information, and he got it.

Chapter Text

“I can’t break them up,” Izuku groaned, digging his fingers into his hair. He whined, loud and obnoxious as Uraraka patted him on the back. Izuku’s cheeks were wet and he knew he was overreacting but between the guilt from following them and the sudden self reflection he could not be blamed for crying. He got this from his mother, so really, it could just be her fault. “I’ve seen too much. They love each other. You should have seen it, Uraraka. Kacchan adores Daiki. I am a horrible person.”

“You’re not a horrible person,” Uraraka said, still rubbing a small circle between his shoulder blades. She bit into the homemade cookie his mother had provided as snacks for their emergency “study” session Izuku had called that Sunday evening. “You just made a really stupid decision by following them on their date.”

“It was highly irresponsible, especially after we mentioned specifically that would be a bad idea,” Iida said, face still beet red after Izuku had confessed what he’d overheard from up in the tree between Kacchan and Daiki. They had only made out, but Iida looked like Izuku had watched them go all the way to home base and back around for a second run. Iida’s shoulders shook with his embarrassment. “You’ll be a full peeping Tom at this rate!”

“I know!” Izuku shouted, sitting up. Iida didn’t have to remind him about that particular part of the night when Izuku was upset about the entire thing in general. He groaned and rolled over onto the floor. “But what do I do about it?”

“You could give up and leave them alone?” Uraraka said. She poked his side and put her cheek in her hand, still eating the cookie. “If you’re not going to break them up, you should probably work on staying away from them for your own sanity. Maybe you could do what Iida suggested and ask someone else out?”

“There is no one else,” Izuku said, rolling onto his back. He stared at his ceiling where an All Might poster smiled down at him. His chest hurt as he admitted a truth he’d been in denial about: “There’s only Kacchan. There’s only ever,” he stressed the word “ever” with a half-whine, “been Kacchan. I can’t just stop liking him!”

“Your fixation is proving to be unhealthy,” Iida said, not wrong but not exactly helping either. Izuku glared at him and he shrugged. “Either way, your only action is to pine from afar at this rate.”

Izuku didn’t think that option was going to work. He’d been trying that option out since he first found out Kacchan was dating Daiki and look at where it had gotten him: Stalking Kacchan on his dates and overhearing make out sessions in a tree. If he had to keep this up, Izuku might actually lose his mind and do something drastic.

“You know what? I think you should sleep on it and think about it more in the morning with a clear head,” Uraraka said. She reached over and ruffled Izuku’s hair. “You’ve stressed yourself out over this entire thing, so don’t make big decisions right now.”

“You’re right,” Izuku said. He rubbed his face and slumped back into his seat. “Thanks for coming over.”

“Anytime,” Uraraka said.

“Yes, we are your friends and are here to support you,” Iida added, with a smack to the table. “Get some rest and we will reconvene tomorrow at lunch to further discuss matters.”

“Sure,” Izuku said.

He walked his two friends out to the door and assured his mother that the “studying” had gone well before he retreated back to his room. Izuku covered his eyes with his hands and tried to pretend for two seconds he was happy for Kacchan and Daiki.


The next day at lunch made it quite clear that sleeping on the matter hadn’t helped much.

Uraraka and Iida sat across from Izuku, shoulders dropped and expressions worried as they looked back and forth between themselves. Iida spoke up first. “I see you didn’t get much sleep if the bags under your eyes are any indication.”

“That’s putting it lightly,” Uraraka said, crossing her arms on the table. She tapped the side of her tray and blew out a breath. “Did you stay up all night thinking about it?”

“Maybe,” Izuku admitted. After attempting to come to terms with Kacchan’s relationship and trying to be happy for him, Izuku found himself in a constant loop of denial and finding that no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he’d realized breaking them up would be wrong, Izuku still wanted to do it. He dropped his head on the lunch table. “I don’t know what to do.”

“What’s the matter with Midoriya?” Todoroki asked, stepping up behind Uraraka and Iida. Izuku sat up to be polite and tried to force a smile. Todoroki was not fooled, despite his deadpan expression. “Are you ill?”

“Lovesick,” Uraraka said, snorting and putting her chin on her hand. Izuku reached across the table and shoved her arm for bringing it up. She glared right back and huffed. “Very lovesick.”

“Oh?” Todoroki asked.

“I’m sure he doesn’t care about my problems,” Izuku said, holding his hand up and waving it back and forth. He glared at Uraraka for spreading this issue outside of their immediate circle and went back to reassuring Todoroki that everything was fine. “It’s nothing I can’t handle, Todoroki.”

Iida adjusted his glasses at the same time Uraraka snorted. Izuku felt betrayed, but they had no mercy. Uraraka said, “You haven’t been having much luck with our help, so what could a third opinion hurt?”

Iida nodded in agreement. “I agree.”

Todoroki looked at both of them before addressing Izuku again: “So what’s this about being lovesick?”

Speaking up before Izuku could stop him, Iida explained, “Izuku is holding amorous affection for someone already in a committed relationship with another person. He is torn between his desire to allow them to be happy with their chosen beloved or to break them up so that he can be with the one he loves instead.”

“Sounds like a romance novel,” Todoroki said. He stared at Izuku long and hard for a moment before glancing at a point behind Izuku. His gaze lingered there for a half a second, but before Izuku could turn to see what he was looking at, Todoroki asked, “Have you told this person that you like them?”

“What?” Izuku asked. He crossed his arms on the table and shook his head. “He’s dating someone else! Even if I have had a crush on him since we were five, what sort of person walks up to someone who’s taken and says ‘Hey, I like you more than that other person. Date me instead’?”

“That seems preferable than concealing your feelings and tearing yourself apart inside,” Todoroki said. He glanced behind Izuku again before continuing. “Are you sure you just can’t tell them how you feel and at least get it off your chest? Even if they say ‘no’ in response, at least it won’t be weighing you down any further.”

“Todoroki’s got a point,” Uraraka said, eyes on Izuku. She bit the side of her thumb as she put her elbow on the table. “It could be good for you just to tell him.”

Izuku scrunched down under the gaze of his three friends and groaned. He shook his head and laughed. “There is no way I can just walk up to Kacchan and tell him that I like him and he should date me instead of Daiki.”

“You what, now?” Kacchan asked, from a spot clearly within hearing range from a point behind Izuku.

“You’re welcome,” Todoroki said, his lip quirking into a smile for half a second before the coward walked away.

“Deku,” Kacchan said, slamming his hand on the table next to Izuku’s side. He dropped his own lunch tray onto the table and waited for Izuku to whip his head to the side before talking again. “You going to repeat that or what?”

“Go, go! Now’s your chance!” Uraraka whispered, completely obviously in a fake cheer. Iida grabbed her and slammed a hand over her mouth before she could say anything else.

Kacchan continued to glare, while Izuku swallowed.

“I—I like you and I want us to date,” Izuku said, feeling his heart nearly pound out of his ribcage. It was now or never. Izuku worked better under pressure anyway. Maybe this was his chance! Izuku emboldened his words, putting his heart on the line. “For a long time. Since we were kids.”

“Bullshit,” Kacchan said. He grabbed the front of Izuku’s uniform and dragged him half out of the chair. “Are you screwing around with me? It’s not funny.”

“No!” Izuku shouted, scared of the power he put behind it. He grabbed Kacchan’s wrist and put his knee on his chair to give himself more leverage. “I wouldn’t joke about that! I’ve had a crush on you forever! If I thought you were interested in dating I would have asked you out in middle school even if I knew you would probably shoot me down.”

“I don’t know what your angle is, but you better knock this shit off,” Kacchan said. He pushed Izuku forward, dropping his hold on the blazer. “I know you remember middle school as well as I do and there’s no way you had a crush on me.”

Izuku held his ground. “Your attitude at times aside, you were still amazing to me in every way then, and you still are now. You’re the most important person in the world to me aside from maybe my parents and All Might. Don’t try to tell me how I feel, Kacchan.”

“You don’t like me,” Kacchan said again. His chest heaved with barely contained anger and denial. “Stop messing with me just because you don’t like my boyfriend.”

As Kacchan turned to leave, Izuku desperately searched for some way to make sure Kacchan understood that he was entirely serious. No one had ever made Izuku’s heart move the way Kacchan did. No matter what emotion he drew forth, be it admiration, pain, jealousy, hope, adoration, inspiration—there was no one who even came close to getting the same level of emotion. Kacchan was Kacchan.

And Izuku loved him.

“Kacchan!” Izuku yelled, diving forward. He grabbed Kacchan’s shoulder and turned the other boy around, shocked eyes widening. In an impulsive move that put most of Izuku’s recklessness to shame, Izuku did the only thing he could think of to get his feelings across without room for question or doubt: He kissed Kacchan.

Firm and desperate with both of his hands around the back of Kacchan’s neck to hold him in place, Izuku had kissed Kacchan.

In the middle of the cafeteria.

In front of everyone.

Someone’s lunch tray dropped in the distance, their silverware and bowls ringing loud on the tiled floor.

In hindsight, Izuku should have predicted the fist that came barreling at his face after Kacchan’s embarrassed squawk.

Chapter Text

Izuku probably should have refrained from hitting Kacchan back.

But on the other hand, the resulting full on cafeteria brawl that landed them both in detention after school meant that Kacchan missed his afternoon date with Daiki. Izuku found a disturbing sort of glee bubble up in his chest after he overheard Katsuki canceling over the phone on the way to class. He attempted to feel guilty about his joy that the plans had been interrupted, but failed.

(He even kept it under wraps enough that Kacchan didn’t notice his happiness lest he punched Deku again.)

And even more thankfully, due to the embarrassing nature of the incident and Aizawa not wanting to give either of them a lecture on teen dating, Izuku and Kacchan got off lucky with their punishment for brawling: They had to clean the classroom by themselves for the rest of the week, followed by a mandatory study session in the room for an hour afterwards.

It could have been much worse, but more importantly, it meant Izuku got to spend some alone time with Kacchan for a change.

(If Aizawa knew his “punishment” was in fact a “reward” he might have switched things up, but Deku put on a dejected enough performance to fool him—lucky again.)

About ten minutes into cleaning, Izuku’s good mood was interrupted by Kacchan gaining the desire to start talking about feelings.

“So you really weren’t messing with me,” Kacchan said, grunting as he washed the top of the desk. “With the liking me thing, were you?”

“No,” Izuku said, pulling the rag away from the window. Kacchan’s back faced him, but he could see Kacchan’s tense shoulders and stiff form. He thought of his friends and their advice and figured it was now or never. “I was hoping for a better time and place to tell you, but it’s still true.”

Kacchan grunted in response, not saying much else.

“Though I did lie a little earlier,” Izuku said, leaning against the window. He wrung the rag between his hands, stretching the fabric. If he was confessing his soul, he probably should confess all of it. What’d he have to lose at this point? “I said if I thought you were interested in dating, I would have at least tried to ask you out, even if you’d turn me down.”

Kacchan paused wiping the table; listening.

“That wasn’t true, though it is something I tell myself enough that it comes out as an answer on reflex. But if we’re being honest, I never asked you out specifically because I knew you’d turn me down,” Izuku said. He held his chest and swallowed. “And it wasn’t because I thought you weren’t interested in dating, though that was part of it.”

Still no response—Kacchan’s silent hint to continue.

“If you turned me down because I didn’t have a Quirk, I don’t think I would have been able to handle it,” Izuku whispered. He bit the edge of his lip, still twisting the coarse cleaning rag. “You could have said no for any other reason and I would have been fine, but that was the one that haunted me as the most likely reason and why I kept my mouth shut.”

Kacchan remained quiet for a long time, and Izuku’s heart felt like it was beating too loud. He wondered if he’d even hear Kacchan’s response over the echoing in his head after baring his soul like splitting open a pomegranate.

“I don’t have a problem with Quirkless people,” Kacchan said, voice soft.

Izuku ripped the rag in half, the anger bubbling up before he could help it. Usually Kacchan was the first to start a yelling match, but this time Izuku felt justified shouting. “You sure did in middle school!”

“No, I had a problem with you in middle school!” Kacchan yelled, turning around. He slammed his own cleaning rag on the desk, igniting it in a small explosion that made Izuku jump. “You want to know why I don’t have a problem with Daiki despite being Quirkless? Because I don’t think you’ll like the answer!”

“Don’t make assumptions about me!” Deku yelled back, clutching one half of each rag in his two fists. “So sure. Tell me!”

“Daiki wants to be a damn florist!” Kacchan screamed back. He held his hands up, palms up and fingers curled in halfway to a fist. “He’s not some suicidal idiot who wanted to run headfirst into a pack of villains without any way to defend himself. You were going to get yourself killed!

“I didn’t hate you because you didn’t have a Quirk!” Kacchan continued, still yelling and teeth barred. “I hated you because you kept trying to be a damned hero without one instead of letting it go and let me be your damned hero!”

Izuku and Kacchan froze at the same time.

Kacchan’s cheeks flushed as his shoulders drew up. He snatched up his cleaning rag and turned away, scrubbing the top of his desk without another word. Izuku stared at his back and replayed the words over and over in his head. Kacchan had wanted to be his hero when they were little. He’d been worried about Izuku’s safety.

Kacchan had been absolutely miserable at getting that across with the whole picking on Izuku thing, but the underlying feelings were not what Izuku had expected to hear.

His heart might have swelled with even more love for that blond idiot, and Izuku hadn’t thought that was possible.

Izuku took a step closer. “Kacch—”

“Shut up! We’re not talking about it. Conversation is over. You were an idiot. I was an idiot. Done.” Kacchan kept scrubbing, grabbing his bucket and moving to the next desk to clean that one. He continued his clipped speech through gritted teeth. “Just. Clean. I want this done and over with so we can get out of here and go home.”

Biting his lip, Izuku stayed quiet even though a hundred words were waiting to burst free. Now wasn’t the time. Kacchan clearly hadn’t meant to say that and taking advantage of his vulnerable state would be a bad thing.

Izuku gathered the remains of his ripped rag and went back to cleaning, cursing that he was a good person because he wanted to know more!


Somehow, Izuku made it through the stewing and frustrating silence that followed the cleaning and doing homework for an hour. The fact Kacchan sat on the other side of the room as far as possible and blocked everything out made it easier.

Izuku would have cared but he was still too busy running the words “Let me be your damned hero” over and over again like a broken record in a small haze of disbelief, confusion, and joy.

Where did Izuku even start with a comment like that? Kacchan was his Hero. Kacchan had always been his Hero—since they were kids! He was second only to All Might, and since All Might was Kacchan’s favorite hero too, Izuku figured this was the one time Kacchan would forgive being second. End point: How did Kacchan not know that Izuku adored him?

Even if it wasn’t in a romantic sense, Izuku had always felt he was pretty clear with the hero worship.

But then again, Kacchan saw that admiration as “Stalking” so who knew how he interpreted everything else?

Izuku would have to ask him.

Tomorrow.

Because Kacchan rushed out of the study hall like fire was on his heels when Aizawa returned to release them from their detention captivity, leaving Izuku alone with his racing brain and notebook page filled to the brim with scenarios he could remember from middle school where he might pin-point a moment that he and Kacchan’s miscommunication hit it’s peak.

Because if Kacchan had a crush on Izuku in middle school that opened up a world of hope.

Alongside many, many, questions about how Kacchan channeled his feelings of confusion about his affection into aggression, but mostly hope.

Izuku felt giddy.

“Get out of my classroom,” Aizawa said, opening up his sleeping bag.

Grabbing his things, Izuku did as instructed and headed out the door himself, new plan in action. Kacchan dating Daiki might still be a problem, but if Kacchan liked Izuku once then he could like him again.

As Izuku stepped outside, still at a half jog thinking about how he needed to call Uraraka and Iida for a new planning session, he spotted familiar blond hair near the gate. He slowed to a stop, his heart beating faster as he saw Kacchan greet Daiki. The other wore his school uniform, the jacket buttoned neat and school bag near his side. Izuku could hear them as he got closer.

“You still shouldn’t have waited, I told you it was going to be a while,” Kacchan said, rubbing the back of his neck and looking to the side.

Daiki crossed his arms, shaking his head with a small smile. “I didn’t actually wait here for two hours, you know. I ran some errands and when I saw the time, I figured I’d meet you here. Don’t act like I went out of my way just to wait for you, Mr. Troublemaker.”

“I guess that’s fair.” Kacchan reached over and grabbed Daiki’s bag, slinging it over his shoulder alongside his own. “I’ll walk you home then.”

“I’d like that,” Daiki said. He laughed and turned, ready to start walking away. “You’ll have to tell me what you did to get detention though. I bet it’s a fun story.”

“Ah,” Kacchan said, wincing as he looked away. Guilt clouded his features before he put on a mask of indifference. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Oh, okay,” Daiki said, smile turning into a frown. He perked back up just as quickly and said. “Want to hear about my day instead?”

“Yes,” Kacchan said, blurting it out almost too fast.

Izuku swallowed, feet still glued to the ground and staying as quiet as possible. He didn’t want to be noticed, though he did notice he was once again spying on Kacchan and Daiki while thy thought they were alone. Iida was right: It was turning into a habit! But that was a concern for another time.

As soon as they were gone, he relaxed and pulled out his phone.

“Operation Break Up Kacchan and Daiki and Catch Kacchan on the Rebound” was back in action. Izuku might feel guilty for being a homewrecker, but he’d feel worse if he didn’t go for it.

Kacchan had been his first.

Chapter Text

“Why is Todoroki here?” Izuku asked, glaring from his perch on the bed at the other three crammed into his room for their latest planning session.

Iida fixed his glasses from his spot on the floor next to the other two and said, “Moral support for your moral support.”

“We figured he helped the situation along better than Iida or I did, so he’d be a good third opinion,” Uraraka said, nodding proudly with her arms crossed. She put her hand on Todoroki’s shoulder as he sat squeezed between her and Iida. “It can’t hurt!”

Izuku narrowed his eyes but allowed it.

“So why are we here again?” Todoroki asked, pulling over the small basket of cookies Izuku’s mother had provided. He bit into one, holding his hand under it to catch the crumbs. “Because I feel like after your confession the other day in the cafeteria, that the ball is entirely in Bakugou’s half of the court for the moment.”

“Exactly!” Izuku said, slapping his hand on his mattress. He leaned forward and turned his notebook around so the others could see his notes. “Earlier in detention, Bakugou admitted that he had a crush on me in middle school! Which means I’m still in the running if I can get Daiki out of the picture.”

Izuku pointed to his diagram outlining the use of a revival of old feelings to help bring them into a new relationship.

“Bakugou said that?” Todoroki asked, deadpanned and straightforward as always.

Iida cleared his throat and held his hand up. “Forgive me for saying, but your judgements have not been the best as of late and I too am skeptical. What were Bakugou’s exact words?”

“Does that matter?” Izuku asked. He wanted to hurry up and get back to business! These semantics were only slowing the process down. “I know what he meant.”

“Yes,” the three of them answered together.

Izuku slumped, propping his elbow on his knee and running the conversation over in his head. He had the exact words, but he needed to frame it in a way that neither gave away how much Bakugou pushed him around in middle school (they wouldn’t understand) nor reveal the why of Bakugou pushing him around. Everyone seemed to be buying the “He just didn’t use his Quirk before” excuse, but Bakugou and their parents knew the real truth—best not to have anyone question it.

“Well?” Iida asked, prompting Izuku when he didn’t answer immediately.

Izuku crossed his arms and paraphrased, but kept to the spirit of what his childhood friend said as best as he could: “Kacchan said that I should have given up my own Pro Hero aspirations so I could just let him be my hero instead during middle school.”

Silence filled the room as the three stared at him.

“Are you sure that means he used to have a crush on you?” Uraraka asked, breaking a cookie in two. She winced, unable to hide the grimace on her face. “Because it sounds more like a roundabout way of trying to get rid of the competition.”

“I concur,” Iida added.

“No, no,” Izuku held up his hands. He turned on into a fist, stretching his scars along his knuckles. He had to make them understand what these words meant. Admitting that he wanted Izuku to admire him in any way was big. “Trust me. I know Kacchan and that was as good as a love confession for him.”

“I think it would be best to tread on the side of caution and assume that you’ve read too much in-between the lines for now,” Todoroki said. He looked down at the remainder of the cookie in his hand and held it up. “These are good by the way. Your mother is an excellent cook.”

“They are! I need to get the recipe,” Uraraka said, turning to Todoroki and clapping her hands together.

Iida mentioned that he, too, would be interested in how they were made and wanted to try his hand at recreating them one day.

As the three of them fell into a chat about his mother’s cooking, Izuku fell back on his bed and wondered if Daiki had infiltrated his friend group somehow and convinced them to sabotage his efforts of winning back Kacchan.


Izuku squared his shoulders as he walked out of the classroom the next day.

While the planning session had dissolved into a standard friendship get together sooner than intended, Todoroki had stopped Izuku by the shoulder on his way outside the door.

“Midoriya,” Todoroki had said, wise and looking far too mature for his age and general obliviousness. “Whatever you decide to do, I think it’s best if you remain up front and honest about your intentions with all parties. Someone is going to be hurt by the end of this no matter how this ends up, so don’t make it worse by sneaking around.”

Izuku swallowed with pride at the heroic mindset and decided Todoroki was absolutely right.

If Izuku hadn’t said what he had in the cafeteria, he would have never had that honest heart to heart in detention and realized that there was more between him and Kacchan than he realized.

Honesty it was.

He had already told Kacchan how he felt and since the other was still being squirrelly about everything (Kirishima was very confused as to why Kacchan had suddenly decided to spend all his time together with him to avoid everyone else in class, but wasn’t complaining), so Izuku decided to let that revelation settle.

Which meant he still had to talk to Daiki.

The other student clearly suspected Izuku’s intentions, but honesty meant putting all the cards on the table. He had to be clear and up front about his intentions to ruin Daiki’s relationship with Kacchan and steal his man.

Izuku rubbed his hands down his face and groaned. He needed a better way to phrase that, even if that’s what he was planning on doing.

Either way, he needed to catch Daiki for this conversation before Kacchan did. He knew according to listening in on Kacchan’s phone call during lunch that Daiki was visiting a garden show or something this afternoon, which meant he wouldn’t be there to meet Kacchan after detention (in which Kacchan was still avoiding Izuku using the silent treatment). Since by the time Kacchan got out, the show would be mostly over, they were going to meet for dinner and Kacchan had plans to head there first to get a good seat and wait for Daiki.

Which meant Izuku had to catch Daiki before he left the show.

With directions that he had looked up during lunch for the only local garden show in town in hand, Izuku jogged there with his eyes on the clock.

Today was the day!


The garden show was packed with people and Izuku hadn’t thought this plan through properly. He’d been hoping to just catch Daiki from across the room or something, but he hadn’t expected that he’d actually need to go looking for the guy. Or that there’d be so many people. He stood near the entrance, staring out at the mass of bodies talking and flitting about over plants of varying types and sizes, swallowing as he looked around.

Izuku reached into his pants and looked in his wallet. He might have to buy a ticket and go in to look for Daiki, but he wasn’t sure he could afford it. Izuku bit his lip and looked back at the entrance. There appeared to only be one main entrance, so maybe if he stood here he could catch Daiki on his way out. Assuming he hadn’t already left. It was more of an all day event thing than a scheduled time thing, so who knows when he’d actually visited?

Fate took pity on Izuku during his ramblings.

“Midoriya?” Daiki asked, tapping Izuku on the shoulder. Izuku would fully admit that he jerked in surprise. Daiki snorted at the reaction, covering his mouth to hide the bubbling laugh. “Are you okay?”

“Yes!” Izuku said. Daiki had dressed up again today, wearing those tight jeans and a fitted shirt with a small picture of a cartoonish explosion in the corner. It contrasted with the small potted plant and pink flowers he held cradled in his arms. Izuku held a hand up. “Hi.”

Daiki mimicked his awkwardness by holding up the same hand. “Hi, yourself.”

“I was looking for you,” Izuku blurted. He needed to get his act together and get back to the point. “Can we take a minute to talk?”

“I was sort of headed somewhere,” Daiki said, glancing at his wristwatch. “Maybe some other time?”

“Kacchan can wait a few more minutes,” Izuku said, just stopping himself from grabbing Daiki’s arm in case he tried to leave. “It won’t take long, I promise.”

“How’d you know I was meeting Katsuki?” Daiki asked. He shook his head a minute later, the friendly smile dropping into something more strained. “Never mind. Dumb question considering it’s you that knows. He did tell me once you were a stalker.”

(Izuku bit his tongue.)

“So sure,” Daiki said. He tapped his fingers on the flowerpot he held. “Let’s talk.”

“Thank you,” Izuku said, sucking in a breath.

The two made their way around the corner of the convention center and settled on having their conversation on a bench in a small picnic area.

Daiki put his pot on the table and pushed his bangs from one side behind his ear. Izuku noted that was probably a nervous tic from the way he looked to the side while he did it. Daiki huffed. “Well? What did you want to talk about?”

Honesty.

Heroes were honest. Relationships should be honest. Honest.

Izuku closed his eyes, thinking of Kacchan and his face when he smiled and how he looked when he really felt alive. He remembered the ache in his chest at the thought of someone else putting that smile there. Izuku couldn’t let Kacchan get away.

(Not again.)

“I like Kacchan, too,” Izuku said. Daiki stopped even pretending to look amicable. The glare spoke everything, but Izuku continued. He needed to do this. “I’ve liked him longer than I can remember, but I didn’t realize dating was even an option until he started going out with you. I know you two are close, but I can’t sit by any longer and do nothing and let him get away.”

The first half was out. Izuku added in the grand finale of his declaration: “I’m going to ask him out, too and I’m going to fight you for him.”

Daiki didn’t react the way Izuku had expected.

“Is this a joke?” Daiki asked, biting the edge of his lip. He looked to the side, breathing out with a harsh laugh. He sucked in and exhaled, looking like he wanted to say something with a half open mouth. Daiki pushed his hair back with both hands as he processed what Izuku had said. The corners of Daiki’s eyes turned wet and Izuku’s stomach churned. “Fight me for him? We both know damn well that if you wanted to take Katsuki from me you could do it, so why are you here? Just to rub salt in the wound?”

Izuku took a step back as Daiki threw his arms out. He didn’t cry like Izuku or Kacchan; there was no ugliness or mess on that pretty face. Simple tears lined his cheeks as his voice raised.

“Well?” Daiki asked. Izuku struggled for an answer, still unsure what Daiki was trying to say. Daiki took his silence as confirmation. “But maybe that was the point. You never did like me from the start, did you? I get it. You do just want to rub it in that you can take Katsuki from me at any point, don’t you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Izuku said, shaking his head.

“Oh, get off—of course you do!” Daiki yelled. The anguished look on his face couldn’t decide if it was furious or devastated. “Even if we take out the part where you’re childhood friends, you finished in the top ten of the Sports Festival! You see Katsuki every day at school and compete with him on his level. You’re a top student at the most prestigious Hero School in the country with an unbearable amazing Quirk if the way Katsuki rants about it is anything to say! Even if you can’t control it completely right now, your potential for growth is through the roof! You’re going to be a top Hero in the future.”

Izuku’s heart stopped.

“I can’t even begin to compare with you!” Daiki sucked in a shaky breath, those silent tears twisting his face into a more familiar sob. “Do you know how lucky I was to meet Katsuki?”

(Oh.)

Izuku stared forward after the words reached his heart. He wasn’t Quirkless any more. Izuku wasn’t the butt of everyone’s joke any longer. Izuku wasn’t just around amazing people any more, he was an amazing person.

(His chest tightened.)

Daiki wiped the side of his cheek with the base of his palm. “Katsuki is a top student at U.A., who’s handsome and nice and more importantly: doesn’t care that I don’t have a Quirk.

“Twenty percent of the population is Quirkless, but most of them are older as the numbers grow fewer and fewer every year,” Daiki said, saying something Izuku already knew far too well. “Do you know what it’s like to be teased at school every day for not having a Quirk? To be less than everyone else because you’re missing that one thing they all share? To know you’re never going to measure up no matter what you do?”

(He did.)

“I tried so hard to be better,” Daiki said. His voice choked and he touched the side of his plant pot. “But even that’s not enough. It’s never enough. It doesn’t matter how many garden shows I win when they all immediately turn sour when they find out I don’t have a Quirk.

“The nice one’s don’t say anything, but I can see the pity in their eyes.” Daiki’s face turned soft and his sad expression grew warm. “Katsuki’s the first person I’ve met who had something else there when I looked him in the eye after I confessed to not having a Quirk. It was almost like he understood and I was so happy to see it I cried after our first date.”

Izuku bit his lip so hard that it bled. He wanted to scream “I understand” but he couldn’t.

(All Might trusted him to keep this secret. Izuku could not break, no matter how much his heart ached.)

“Katsuki’s a blessing,” Daiki said. He sucked in a breath, the tears and softness giving way to anger. Daiki smacked the picnic table, shouting. “The odds of me finding someone as great as Katsuki again are slim to none, so if you’re going to take him from me, then just do it and don’t stand here and rub it in my face how easy it will be for you!”

“You’re wrong,” Izuku whispered.

(Wrong about not understanding. Wrong about himself. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.)

Izuku had to fix this.

“And why’s that?” Daiki asked.

“Quirks are important for a lot of things in life,” Izuku said, squaring his shoulders. His throat hurt as he spoke, but he kept talking. “Like being a hero and fighting villains, or doing things outside a normal human’s scope of ability, but when it comes to relationships Quirks don’t mean a thing!”

Daiki jerked back as Izuku’s voice found its own strength.

“You’re amazing,” Izuku said. He felt his own voice wobble and his own emotions well up headed toward tears. “You’re handsome, smart, and you make Kacchan soft in a way that I’ve never seen before. You make him laugh, and you make him gentle, and you make him proud. I’ve never been so jealous of another human being in my life and Quirks have had nothing to do with it.

“I came out here to enter the competition for Kacchan’s heart, but that doesn’t mean I came out here expecting to win,” Izuku said. He gripped his fists and stood up straight, feeling the hum from One for All resonating in his soul. “Taking Kacchan from you might be the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do, so stop selling yourself short!”

Daiki’s eyes widened and his face turned slack in shock. His shoulders shook and the tears flowed more freely as he sobbed. Daiki sat on the bench covering his face and catching his breath, but they both felt the mood around them lift. Izuku caught the tiny “thank you” under Daiki’s breath, but didn’t comment.

He said what he needed to.

Izuku held out his hand and tried to smile. “You’ve already got a serious advantage from months of dating, but I’m not going to give up.”

Daiki wiped his face on his shirt and the smile he wore was the first truly genuine one Izuku had ever seen face to face. Daiki grabbed Izuku’s hand and shook it. “Challenge accepted, and I’m not going to lose.”

“We’ll see,” Izuku said. He let go of Daiki’s hand and breathed out, holding his chest. He knew the evening was going to get emotional, but that was more than he had planned for. Izuku looked at a clock on a post and sighed. “And you’re really late for that dinner date.”

“I am!” Daiki said, checking his watch again. He grabbed his flower pot and bags from the show and walked backwards toward the road. “I’ll say ‘hello’ to Katsuki for you!”

Izuku waved as the other ran off down the side of the building and around the corner. His chest felt lighter. He’d gotten all his feelings out and they’d come to an understanding and Daiki was more determined than ever to keep hold of Kacchan—

“Did I just sabotage myself?” Izuku asked, eyes widening.

“That tends to happens when you put the needs of others above yourself,” All Might said, dropping a hand on Izuku’s shoulder. “But that’s what it means to be a Hero.”

Izuku might have screamed.

Chapter Text

“How long have you been there!” Izuku yelled, turning over his shoulder. He clutched at his chest to calm his own beating heart.

“Since you and your friend arrived in the park and sat about a table down from mine. You were so focused on the task at hand you didn’t notice me,” All Might said, smiling warmly while Izuku internally panicked that he’d been so obsessed with Kacchan and challenging Daiki he’d ignored his favorite Hero. (Shameful!) All Might’s oversized clothes hung around his loose frame and he nodded toward the picnic table, unfazed at being ignored. “While I admire how well you handled things, it seems you’re still upset. Would you like to talk about it?”

Izuku felt his tears grow warm in joy. All Might! His Hero was there and this was exactly what he needed!

It took an hour and a few diagrams, but Izuku spelled out all of his troubles and the entirety of the situation starting with the day Kacchan walked into the diner with Daiki all the way up to a recap of why Izuku confronted Daiki in the park.

“What do you think I should do?” Izuku asked.

“I have no idea,” All Might said, shrugging his shoulders in a sheepish smile. “Relationships are a bit out of my purview. As you might have noticed, Young Midoriya, I myself am still very single.”

Izuku stared.

That wasn’t how this conversation was supposed to go.

“I don’t even think I know anyone I could recommend you to. Endeavor is the only married Hero I know personally and not only have I not spoken to him in a while, he was set up by a matchmaker, so I don’t think he’d be much help,” All Might said. He looked up at the sky and scratched the side of his head. “Present Mic and Eraserhead have been dating since high school, but then again, I’m also fairly certain that Eraserhead is not aware that he’s dating Present Mic so I don’t think they’d be much assistance either.”

“O-okay,” Izuku said, staring at the table.

If All Might, the one man who was always there when needed and a Hero among Heroes had no advice for Izuku, then what was he to do? Izuku breathed in and covered the lower half of his mouth. His friends had tried. Izuku had done his best. And all of it seemed to lead to nowhere but self sabotage.

(He was going to lose Kacchan, wasn’t he?)

A hand dropped into his hair and Izuku looked up through the strands.

All Might’s smile remained soft and fond, and very amused. “Youth can be a trying time, but for what it’s worth, I think my lack of a reply to your question doesn’t matter much when you’ve already got your own answers.”

“Huh?” Izuku asked.

“You came out to the park today and made a declaration, did you not?” All Might asked. His fingers squeezed in Izuku’s hair, gentle but firm. All Might shook his head, knocking his blond hair out of his eyes to reveal their full warmth and pride. “That sounds to me like you’ve already made up your mind on what you’re going to do.”

Izuku sat up straighter.

“So go on, my boy! Go ask young Bakugou out on a date,” All Might said. He ruffled Izuku’s hair and threw his hands out. All Might placed his hands on his knees and nodded. “And if he says no, then at least you won’t have to deal with the regret of having never tried. But more importantly, he can’t say yes either if you don’t ask, now can he?”

“All Might,” Izuku said. He jumped across the table and gave his mentor a hug, squeezing tight. He crushed the thin form to his chest and once again found himself bursting with joy this man was brought into his life. “Thank you.”

“Any time, my boy,” All Might said. He squeezed Izuku back before pulling away. “And remember the words of your friends: You are a remarkable, bright young lad and no matter how Bakugou decides to return your feelings, those facts are still true.”

Izuku nodded and sniffed. He rubbed his eyes on his sleeves and grinned. “I will.”

“Then go get him!” All Might said, pointing to the street. “You’ve got a date to crash.”

“Yeah!” Izuku yelled, pumping his hand in the air. He turned to jump out of his seat before he caught himself and stumbled. He looked back at All Might. “Wait! No. I can’t do that! That’d be mean.”

All Might covered his mouth to hide his snort. “Fair enough. Tomorrow then?”

“Tomorrow,” Izuku said, nodding to himself.

Tomorrow, he would ask Kacchan out.


“Don’t talk to me, Deku. We still have stupid detention and I want it to get it over with,” Kacchan said, shoving his things in his bag to set aside so they could clean the classroom. His shoulders were still tense and it was clear that he was still unnerved by Izuku’s earlier confession. That could be good or bad depending, but Izuku had no time to change plans. “Go clean on the other side of the room.”

“I have something I need to ask you,” Izuku said, steeling himself.

(Izuku could do this. He could do this!)

He pulled his shoulders back and ignored the few stares of people still lingering at the end of class. He wasn’t too keen on having witnesses for this, but he was sure they’d hear about it one way or another anyway. If he waited too long, Kacchan would run after detention and he’d have to wait another day to ask.

Izuku had waited far too long already.

Nothing would deter him. Izuku would put up with Kirishima’s confused stare, Iida’s concerned expression, Uraraka’s glee, and Todoroki’s blank stare and focus on the target.

Kacchan sensed Izuku’s eternal stubbornness coming into play and sighed, dropping his bag on the floor. “What now, Deku?”

“Would you like to go out with me this Friday night?” Izuku asked, holding his head high. “And I do mean that as a date.”

“Daiki said you were going to do this,” Kacchan said, scowling at the floor as he mumbled under his breath. He scratched the back of his head and sat on the edge of his desk. “I’m not cheating on my boyfriend, Deku.”

“It’s not cheating,” Izuku said. He kept his gaze strong and kept eye contact. “Daiki and I came to an understanding. I told him my intentions and he said game on.”

“And what if I just don’t want to?” Kacchan asked. He crossed his arms, leaning back and sticking his legs out. He crossed them at the ankle and stared Izuku down. “Nothing says I have to go out with you, Deku.”

That was…unfortunately true.

“I know, but I’d regret it if I didn’t ask, so I am,” Izuku said. He gripped his hands into fists and breathed out. “Would you like to go out with me Friday night?”

“No,” Kacchan said.

“O-okay,” Izuku said, swallowing. He bit his lip and folded his hands together. He’d asked. That was all he could do and his was a possibility. Izuku nodded and rubbed his knuckles with his thumb. “Thanks for letting me ask.”

He turned away from Kacchan, grabbing his bag. Uraraka looked like she was ready to cry and Iida looked away, adjusting his glasses. Izuku knew they’d be there for him later and he appreciated it.

Izuku had asked. He knew the answer but he asked.

“Sunday’s better.”

That had been Kacchan.

Izuku stopped, his heart skipping a beat. He turned on his back heel and saw the most beautiful sight in the world: Kacchan looking at the blackboard, a small frustrated—almost embarrassed—look on his face.

“What was that?” Izuku asked.

“I said Friday’s a bad day, so we’ll go out Sunday,” Kacchan said, whipping his head back to Izuku. His cheeks flushed pink and he glared, but it was a thoughtful glare. A considerate glare. Kacchan hopped off the desk and headed toward the supply closet. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”

“Yes!” Izuku said, cheeks hurting from the smile that stretched across it. “It’s a date!”

Chapter Text

Sunday came too fast.

Izuku hadn’t been ready.

(He really, really, hadn’t been ready.)

Not that he ever could have been. Izuku swallowed, mouth dry and eyes wide. Nothing could have prepared him for that.

“You’re not going to make this weirder than it already is, are you?” Kacchan asked, completely unaware of the effect he was having on Izuku. If he knew, he would have worn a stretched lip, amused in a smirk or a knowing little grin in pride of his own looks. The half-scowl and curled lip matching his confused expression gave away his ignorance. “Deku?”

“Sorry!” Izuku said, jerking as he stood up straight and snapped his mouth shut. He held his hands up, struggling to find the words through the distraction and desire to just rake his eyes all over every inch of Kacchan. “I just. You look good.”

The understatement of the year.

It was downright sinful what Kacchan chose to wear for their date.

Izuku had dressed up a little bit with a button-up shirt and a nice pair of jeans, but Kacchan had apparently decided competition was part of dating and had gone all out with his apparel: Skinny jeans that would have put Daiki’s to shame, a button-up shirt with small red swirls embroidered into the side like spiraled explosions that added a pop of color and brought out Kacchan’s eyes (that was of course open at the top and undone three buttons down), and all of it had been dressed up with a suit jacket that had the sleeves rolled to the elbow.

“You look really good,” Izuku wheezed again when his brain refused to process anything else other than the muscles on Kacchan’s arms and his exposed neck. Izuku waved his hand up and swallowed. “You caught me off guard.”

“It’s a date, right?” Kacchan asked, looking down at his front. He pulled at his lapel, lifting up the corner of his jacket and fully revealing the expensive shirt. “You didn’t think I was going to half-ass this, did you?”

“No!” Izuku shouted, holding his hands up and waving them. “I just haven’t seen you this dressed up before! I thought the date was going to be more casual since it’s just us going out.”

“Dress casual is still pretty casual,” Kacchan said. He stared Izuku down for a moment before snorting. He smiled, a real wry one this time that sent Izuku’s heart skipping. “You forgot my parents are fashion designers, didn’t you?”

“Maybe,” Izuku said, mentally thanking them for the blessing that was Kacchan’s hidden wardrobe. He hoped to see more in the future. “It looks good.”

“You said that three times,” Kacchan said, averting his eyes to the side. He didn’t blush, but he shifted enough to hint he was uncomfortable with Izuku’s lustful stare. “Are we going to brunch or what? You didn’t actually text any plans when you said the time and that’s the only thing I can think of at ten in the morning.”

Izuku dragged his eyes away from the hint of Kacchan’s collarbone from the open shirt and resisted the urge to slap his cheeks to get him back on track. (Izuku needed to get a grip; one step at a time!) Izuku tugged on a loose curl of hair. “I have a whole day planned, actually! I wanted our plans to be a surprise, but we can go get and get brunch if you want.

“I’m flexible,” Izuku tacked on, fully intending innuendo but not enough to draw more attention to it. “That sound okay?”

“I thought this was a date, not a day trip,” Kacchan said, shoving his hands in his pocket.

“I’ve got a lot of ground to make up,” Izuku said, clapping his hands together. He grinned, his chest swelling with excitement. He’d been waiting for this day all week and he wasn’t going to waste it with a simple hour encounter. “I’ve met my competition, thank you.”

“Dweeb,” Kacchan said. He walked past Izuku and jerked his head for him to follow. “There’s a nice place for brunch in town.”

“Coming!” Izuku said, locking his door and tapping after Kacchan.

They were off to a good start as far as Izuku was concerned and his heart beat faster in his chest with every thought of “This is happening!”


“Before we get too far into this,” Kacchan said, splitting his egg down the middle and straight through the biscuit it sat on. “I want to make a couple things clear.”

Kacchan’s face looked more thoughtful than angry, so Izuku tried not to worry too soon that ultimatums were about to be dropped. He sipped his orange juice and nodded he was listening.

“First, we are not dating. This is a date. Singular,” Kacchan said, pointing his knife at Izuku. That was a fair statement. Izuku had plenty of time to turn “one” into “many” dates and change his mind. Izuku knew quite well that he wasn’t winning his future boyfriend over in a day; he was prepared for the long haul. Kacchan went back to his eggs. “Second, I do not cheat. Got it?”

Izuku huffed, munching on a piece of toast. “I already told you that I talked to Daiki. You’re not sneaking around if we’re telling him about it.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Kacchan said. His cheeks dusted pink and he leaned back, slightly slumping in his chair as he pushed his food around on the plate. “I don’t know what’s going on between you and Daiki with this whole date thing and permission bullshit, but I do not cheat on people. I’m still dating him, which means keep your hands to yourself, got it?”

His face might as well have been on fire for how hard Izuku flushed red. Kacchan had probably meant something innocent like hand holding or a kiss goodbye but Izuku’s brain went straight to third base and that date he’d spied on where Kacchan and Daiki made out under a tree.

Izuku’s traitorous brain superimposed himself in the place of Daiki and now he had the image of Kacchan pinning him to the ground and ripping open his belt.

(“I told you that was a bad idea!” Izuku’s inner Iida exclaimed, right as always.)

“Oi! What are you thinking about?” Kacchan smacked his hands on the table. His voice squeaked as (Izuku guessed) certain thoughts entered his own mind. “Stop making that face!”

“Sorry!” Izuku said, ducking down. He covered his mouth and opened and closed his mouth behind it. “Sorry, sorry. But you’re…I think about that stuff, too. With you. And yeah.”

Both red, the two of them distracted themselves with food. Bacon. Eggs. Breakfast things from the Western Style diner tucked in a corner that Kacchan favored. Food.

Kacchan broke the silence first, watching the street instead of Izuku. “So what’d you plan for today, anyway?”

Izuku scraped the last bit of egg from his plate onto his fork and sucked on it. “It’s still a surprise, but if we get there and you don’t like it, we can do something else.”

“You got plans for that too, or are we winging it?” Kacchan asked, snorting. He went for his water and swallowed, bobbing his Adam’s apple. Izuku watched the motion and forced himself to look at the street too. “I’m up for whatever, but it’s nice to know if we’re on a schedule or something.”

“Nope, not really,” Izuku said. “I didn’t get concert tickets or anything with a set time since I wasn’t sure what you’d want to do since I haven’t met ‘dating you’ yet.”

Kacchan snorted. He dropped his elbow on the table, leaning forward. “You know ‘dating me’ and ‘normal me’ are the same person, right?”

“Yeah,” Izuku said, feeling his chest warm. The light from the window fell over Kacchan’s hair and illuminated him, the good and the bad all together. “That’s what makes it perfect.”

“Okay, enough of that,” Kacchan said, clearing his throat and shoving himself out of his seat. His cheeks still look heated and he avoided direct eye contact and Izuku couldn’t help but laugh. Kacchan threw money on the table and put his hands back in his pocket. “Daylight is wasting.”

Izuku added his own half of the bill (He knew better than to go anything but Dutch on a first date with Kacchan, thank you) and caught up to Kacchan’s side.

So far, so good!


“The arcade?” Kacchan asked, squinting at the sign as they stood outside the entrance. He scrunched his nose, clearly confused. “You planned to go to the arcade for a date?”

“Yup,” Izuku said, scratching the back of his head before dropping his arms. He dug his thumb into the palm of his other hand and looked a the threshold of the sliding door. “It’s going to sound dumb, but I always kind of wanted to come here with you when we were kids. You didn’t start going until we were older and by that point, well…you know.”

“Yeah,” Kacchan said, exhaling.

They both stared at the glass door, quiet and reflective. It felt nice. Nicer than it should have been, but Izuku still felt warm, sharing this space with Kacchan in a place they both used to walk often in their youngest childhood. Four or five or six or seven or however many years ago, Izuku would have been watching Kacchan from behind a tree ten feet away—never standing next to him.

He could feel Kacchan’s body heat standing this close; could hear him breathing.

This was good.

“We going in or not?” Kacchan asked, watching Izuku with a hidden expression, blank and steady.

“Let’s go!” Izuku said, pepping himself up. This was a date and they were here to have fun. Unable to help himself, he grabbed Kacchan’s arm and dragged him through the door and into the buzzing sounds of blinking and beeping machines. He kept his hold, so close to the hand he wanted to grab but never let his fingers fall further than his mid-arm. “What games did you used to play?”

“Little bit of everything,” Kacchan said, allowing his arm to remain held to Izuku’s great joy. “It gets boring if you play the same thing over and over.”

Izuku looked around the arcade at all the colorful lights and machines. This was one of the few spaces Kacchan tread that Izuku never worked up the nerves to enter. In all honesty, he could have followed Kacchan in and gone unnoticed easily enough but something about watching Kacchan have fun with his “friends” always twisted Izuku’s stomach the wrong way. It was different from watching them following him around and praising him, but in here they were playing together. Competing. Doing actual friend things and Izuku knew he wouldn’t be welcome.

So he stayed outside and read while waiting for Kacchan to come back out.

(But that was then.)

“I bet I still have the high score on that one,” Kacchan said, looking at a machine in the back with blinking lights. All Might’s face had been plastered on the side, scratched with age. The old single-player game looked well loved and Izuku could just picture tiny Kacchan standing on his tip-toes to see over the control panel to see the screen better. Adult Kacchan laughed and licked his teeth with a wicked grin. “But if I don’t, I bet I can get it again.”

“Yes,” Izuku said, holding his hands up in fists. “How do you play?”

“I’ll show you,” Kacchan said. He exchanged a few bills for game tokens and weaved through the crowds of kids playing on a Sunday afternoon. Izuku followed close, grabbing a handful of tokens for himself and leaned on the side of the machine as Kacchan settled in to dump a token in the slot using the ease of muscle memory. “Hah, look at that: Still first.”

Izuku grinned at the small initials spelling out Katsuki’s name. “You sure are.”

“I’ll play the first round anyway to show you how it’s done, then I can laugh at your attempts,” Kacchan said, pressing “start.”

Izuku chuckled under his breath, settling in to lean against the machine as Kacchan tapped at the controls with ease, tongue stuck to the back of his teeth as his mouth parted.

The rest of the room fell away as they stood there, and Izuku had already known he liked Kacchan, but the feeling spreading through every inch of him as they stood here together could be nothing less than love.

Chapter Text

The arcade had been a good call.

Kacchan even stopped laughing long enough to help show Izuku what he was doing wrong in the game to get a better score. Kacchan showed his considerate side as he explained things in detail and Izuku drank it in like a drowning man, listening to Kacchan speak low and calm directly near his ear. Somehow, Izuku had managed to pay enough attention to what he was saying and not just the feeling of Kacchan’s body so close and the temptation of grabbing his face and kissing it.

Izuku’s score had improved by at least thirty percent on every game they tried by the time they left and he beamed under Kacchan’s proud looks. Izuku hoped they could come back more often and try the games that they missed, date or no date.

(A little more practice and Izuku was sure he could start giving Kacchan a run for his money on some of those scores!)

They spent more time at the Arcade than Izuku had planned, so he forwent the walk around the park he had planned to head straight for an early dinner. Kacchan had no qualms with Izuku’s choice and they found themselves at a restaurant down the street from the arcade that specialized in curry dishes.

“I’ve known you my whole life and I still shudder at your tolerance for spicy foods,” Izuku said, laughing as Kacchan asked for extra hot chillies. He scrunched his nose as Kacchan ate one raw and dumped the rest into his plate. “I’m starting to think you burned all your taste buds off a long time ago.”

“Not my fault you’ve all got no idea what flavor is,” Kacchan said, taking a bite of rice smothered in the sauce. He licked his lip after the motion to catch a piece of rice that escaped and Izuku tried not to stare. Kacchan didn’t call him out, so he must have succeeded. “Because I don’t know how you guys eat everything so bland.”

“I’m just glad you’ve accepted that we’re all spice weaklings and always make a separate portion for yourself whenever you cook,” Izuku said. He finished off his own plate and put it aside. “I’d be terrified if you were the ‘I made it and you’re gonna’ eat it’ type.”

“They’d never make it through one bite before wimping out. Who wants to waste food? Kacchan asked, licking off his spoon. He dropped it on his own empty plate and crossed his arms on the table. Kacchan looked around at the other regulars filling the seats and the decor on the walls. “Nice choice of restaurant, by the way. I haven’t been here in ages.”

“Me either,” Izuku said. He smiled at the homey atmosphere and the small setting. It was quiet and secluded; warm. Izuku had a lot of happy memories here, and he felt his heart swell at the chance to share them. “Mom and I came here a lot with my dad when I was really little. After he left for his job, though, we barely came at all.”

“Yeah?” Kacchan asked.

Izuku leaned across the table and mock-whispered. “Apparently it’s my dad’s favorite place to eat, but my mom doesn’t like it. So they only came because he wanted to. She said she was shocked when I asked to come back on my own. She rolled her eyes and said ‘Of course you want to eat there. All the things you could have inherited and that’s what you’d pick up from him.’

“We still only really eat here when he comes home, though, no matter how much I keep asking,” Izuku said. He laughed under his breath. “So thank you for giving me an excuse to come tonight.”

“So this whole date was nothing but a scam to get company for your curry obsession? I see what this is. I’ve been used.” Kacchan covered his mouth to hide the snort. “What? Half-and-half, glasses, and round-face too good to submit to the curry horror?”

“Oh shut up! The curry was great and you know it,” Izuku said, laughing. He reached across the table and shoved Kacchan in the arm. “I asked you because I wanted to be here with you.”

“Yeah,” Kacchan said, breathing out. He stared at his water cup and covered his mouth. Izuku calmed, feeling the amusement drain out as Kacchan turned thoughtful. “The curry was good.”

“So’s the company,” Izuku whispered, sensing the shift in atmosphere.

“We should probably have a real talk about all of this,” Kacchan said, waving his finger around in a circle. He dragged his fingers through his hair and licked his lip. “Shouldn’t we?”

Izuku swallowed, feeling the knot grow in his throat. He nodded, not sure he wanted to ruin such an amazing day, but it was the right thing to do. “Sure. We can find some place quiet and do that.”

“There’s a spot with a bench around the corner.” Kacchan grabbed the bill and got up. He waved it once before walking to the counter. “My treat.”

Izuku let him pay, his stomach twisting too tight to argue.


The sun had just started to set as they reached the small sitting area on the shopping strip. Kacchan helped himself to the aforementioned bench and leaned his head back. The area was secluded and empty, giving them more than enough space to be alone for their upcoming conversation. Izuku sat beside him, but not so close that they were touching. Kacchan threw his arms over the back and slumped while Izuku leaned forward, holding his hands together.

Neither of them had said anything since Kacchan paid for dinner.

Izuku decided to finally take the lead today. “I’m really glad you came out today, Kacchan.”

“It was good,” Kacchan said, staring at the sky and the clouds rolling in. His unreadable expression looked wrong on such a normally animated face. “It was. It was good.”

“I heard the ‘but’ in that sentence,” Izuku said, rubbing his thumb on the back of his knuckles. Izuku sucked in a breath and breathed out. “I can take the truth.”

“Even if I dumped Daiki tonight the way you seem to want,” Kacchan said, still staring at the sky. The regret in his voice kept Izuku from hoping too hard. Kacchan went for the direct approach: “I don’t think it’d ever work, Deku. We had a nice date, but it was one day where we were both on our best behavior and trying to make it work. The long term won’t be so pretty, and we both know it.”

Izuku squeezed his hands together. “What makes you think that?”

Kacchan dropped his head back down, and pulled one arm up to tap it against the bench back. If Izuku shifted, his shoulder would touch the digit, but he stayed still. “You want to know one of the things I like best about Daiki?”

(No.)

“What?” Izuku asked.

“He lets me do shit for him,” Kacchan said, sucking in a shaky breath. He exhaled and scrunched his nose. “Daiki lets me carry his bag for him and open doors. When he’s working in his garden he lets me do the big stuff, like spreading the mulch or carrying bags of dirt around. He asks me when he needs help holding a door open or needs someone to pick something up from the store or whatever else.

“If Daiki wants something, he asks. If he needs something, he asks,” Kacchan said, stressing the ‘ask’ in each sentence. He gripped his fingers into a loose first before straightening them again. “He knows he can depend on me and he does.”

“Okay,” Izuku said, not quite sure where Kacchan was leading this.

(That was a lie. Izuku remembered “Let me be your damned hero!” and the other things that could mean.)

As if reading his mind, Kacchan turned his head to the side and looked Izuku straight in the eye. “With you, everything’s a competition.”

Izuku narrowed his eyes, feeling the insult. If anyone between them was instigating competition it was—

“See! Right there!” Kacchan said, turning in his seat. He pointed at Izuku’s face and hissed in frustration. “I know I pick a lot of fights with you, but it’s because you’re always starting it first with that stupid look of yours. That one that says ‘I’m going to prove you wrong.’ You do it all the time.”

“Is this that ‘You were always looking down on me?’ conversation again?” Izuku said, trying to keep his temper in check. He understood Kacchan could be insecure at times, and he really did regret that giant misunderstanding between them, but Izuku wasn’t sure how much clearer he could make ‘I adore and look up to you.’ Izuku squeezed his hands together and breathed. “Because I thought we talked about that. I didn’t. I’ve never looked down on you, Kacchan. It’s always been rather the opposite.”

Kacchan sucked in a breath and looked away before staring at the grass. He shoved the heal of his loafer into a crack between the sidewalk tiles and licked his lip. “I know. But that still doesn’t solve our current problem.”

“Which is?” Izuku prompted.

“We’re both aiming for the number one spot and I don’t know if you noticed or not, but it gets us both a little aggressive,” Kacchan said, watching Izuku out of the corner of his eye. “We’re constantly fighting and competing to be the best over absolutely everything and I already complain to Daiki about it when I go home. But he at least usually makes me shut up and changes the conversation to something else.

“With you, we’d just take it it all back with us and keep going with nothing to change the topic. I can’t fight with you over that during the day and then go home and keep doing it all the time. I’d go crazy. You’d go crazy.

“The only reason today was so nice is because we didn’t have anything to compete over,” Kacchan said. He snorted and rubbed his thumb in a circle against his temple. “Apparently video games are the one thing where you don’t care if I’m better than you.”

Izuku bit his lip.

“Or not,” Kacchan said, slumping in his seat. “You get what I’m saying, though? This isn’t going to work.”

Kacchan was probably right in the long run: Izuku felt nothing but the desire to prove him wrong.

“We really need to start talking more,” Izuku said, scooting closer. He felt Kacchan’s fingers touch his shoulder and even though he was pushing his luck, he dared to lean on Kacchan’s side. “We keep misunderstanding each other.”

Kacchan moved his arm further back to avoid touching him, but didn’t shove Izuku away. “And what did I misunderstand this time?”

“My intentions, but I don’t think it’s your fault,” Izuku said. “I wasn’t very clear about what I wanted when I said I was going to beat you with my own power and be number one.”

“That sounds pretty clear, Deku,” Kacchan said, flicking Izuku in the back of the head.

“I was mad when I said it,” Izuku said, rubbing the spot. He concentrated on Kacchan’s warmth as he spoke, hoping desperately that this all came out the way he wanted it to. “I made a promise to someone very important that I would be the number one hero, Kacchan. To do that, I need to beat you because you’re the bar I need to cross: You’re the best, Kacchan. Or at least you’re going to be. If I can’t beat you, I can’t claim the spot and keep my word.”

“Still sounding pretty clear,” Kacchan said, mouth twitching and frustration leaking into his voice.

“But that doesn’t meant I want to keep the number one spot all to myself,” Izuku said, speaking up before Kacchan could get too lost in his own head. Izuku looked up through his curls at Kacchan and exhaled. “I’ve been chasing after you my entire life. Nothing I’ve done has ever been good enough to stand next to you, and now with this Quirk and this school, I’ve got a real chance. If I can’t beat you at least once, I’ll never be at your level and I’ll never be equal with you.

“I don’t want to steal your number one spot, Kacchan—I want to share it with you!”

Kacchan smiled, but it was strained; sad. “You can’t share first place, Deku.”

Izuku elbowed him in the side hard enough to hurt and Kacchan yelped before jumping off the bench with a tiny, involuntary explosion in his palm. “What the hell?”

“Why not?” Izuku asked. He stood up and faced Kacchan chest to chest. “Why can’t we share it? Isn’t that the point of being equal partners? Or heck, maybe I’ll have the top spot one week and you can take it the next and then I’ll work to take it back and we can do that forever until we might as well both have the same title. That’s the point of getting stronger and challenging each other to push ourselves to be better than we can alone!

“There isn’t anyone else I’d rather be partners with, Kacchan!” Izuku shouted. “No one else pushes me to be better the way that you do. No one makes me as happy as you do! You’re the one I want to be with!”

Kacchan threw both of his hands into his hair and turned away. Izuku tightened his fists and stayed determined. He was going to get it through Kacchan’s thick, prideful skull that they were meant to be partners if it killed him.

“I don’t understand you,” Kacchan said, dragging his hand down his face from his hairline. “You’ve seen me at my worst for most of your life and you’re still saying that bullshit. Maybe if you’d met me this year, I’d get it. But how can you sit here and tell me this after everything that you know?

“You could be with anyone you wanted and you’re chasing after me and I don’t get it,” Kacchan said, shoulders dropping.

Izuku shook his head in disbelief as he felt his own voice quiver. “People keep telling me that and I’m getting really tired of hearing it.”

Kacchan said nothing, standing in the middle of the empty street.

“Midoriya! You’re a good person with a promising career. You’re a great friend and ideal partner. You’re a good guy! You could get anyone you wanted if you put yourself out there and asked. Or the ever popular: You could do better if you opened your dating pool,” Izuku hissed out that last part and felt himself keep going, unable to keep in the words. “You should give up and just ask someone else out. Your fixation is unhealthy. Remember that if Kacchan turns you down, you’re still a remarkable person.

“All of them are so sure that you would say no and that I needed to be consoled that I could do better and should turn my attention elsewhere.

“Daiki’s the only one who who was terrified you’d actually say yes to me!” Izuku shouted. He threw his head back and laughed, tugging on his own curls. “I know everyone was trying to just cheer me up when you inevitably told me ‘no’, but I could read between the lines: None of them wanted you to say ‘yes’ either, save for maybe All Might but that was more of a pep talk to have confidence in myself than anything else. They all think I can do ‘better’ and that I should just give up on you but I don’t want to.

“Daiki’s amazing, too, you know?” Izuku said, making sure to look Kacchan in the eye. He shrugged up and grinned when Kacchan pouted. “Of course you do—you’re dating him—but that’s the point: If he’s amazing enough to get your attention, he could get anyone he wanted, too. If everyone expects me to just count my losses and date someone else if you don’t like me, why can’t he?

“Why should I be the only person to go off and ‘do better’ and just accept things the way they are if you pick someone else?

“I don’t want to give up before I’ve even tried,” Izuku said. He grabbed Kacchan’s hand and desperately kept his strength in check as he squeezed, careful not to bruise his hand. Izuku’s voice refused to waver. This was too important: “Kacchan, I’ve loved you since we were four, the good and the bad and nothing is going to change that.

“The way you talk about yourself makes me think that you don’t think you’re good enough, which is so far from the truth it makes me want to cry,” Izuku said. Kacchan’s fingers twitched under his hold and he continued to hold firm. He wasn’t going to let Kacchan run away from this. Izuku needed to say it as much as Kacchan needed to hear it. “That thing about me and Daiki being amazing counts for you, too. You could be with anyone you want just as easy as either of us. So never, ever think you’re not good enough.”

Izuku breathed heavily, his heart pounding from nerves and adrenaline and Kacchan didn’t speak.

The night stayed quiet for another agonizing minute of nothing but Izuku’s loud breathing as he calmed down.

“Sometimes I really hate you,” Kacchan said, staring at their joined hands. His voice choked, but he wasn’t crying. “You make this damn hero thing look so easy.”

Izuku laughed, leaning forward and dropping his head into Kacchan’s chest. He was rather surprised he wasn’t crying either. Izuku could only smile right now, warm and tired and spent. “Only because I’ve had a lot of amazing people to look up to. More than I can count, really, but at least one of them is right here.”

Kacchan squeezed his hand back.

That was enough.

“Can I kiss you?” Izuku asked. He could hear Kacchan’s heart beat through his shirt and wondered if there was some Quirk out there that could stop this moment from ending. “I would really like to.”

Kacchan’s hand trembled. “Do what you want.”

Izuku laced their fingers together and stepped back enough that he could see Kacchan’s face: A little insecure; all proud.

Izuku pushed up and pressed their lips together, gentle and easy with their noses touching. It was only after Kacchan closed his eyes that Izuku reached up with his free hand to put his fingers into blond hair and pressed closer when Kacchan put his hand on Izuku’s waist.

He wasn’t sure how long they spent like that, but he knew it’d never be enough.

Chapter Text

Despite the sudden urge to shove Kacchan onto the bench and hop in his lap, Izuku remembered that thing called “self control” and pulled out of the kiss with a soft whine. He settled on dropping his forehead back onto Kacchan’s chest and mumbled, “We should probably stop.”

Kacchan’s hoarse and needy, “Yeah” almost made him change his mind.

But Izuku was a Hero, and Heroes remembered “Keep your hands to yourself” declarations at the start of the date.

With all the wondrous awkward silence that typically followed such moments, they collected their things and walked back toward the station side by side. Izuku’s disappointment melted into contentment as they continued forward, still together.

Things weren’t set in stone yet, but he could enjoy the moment.

“Hey, Kacchan,” Izuku said, as the hopped onto the empty train. They took a seat onto a bench and he asked, “Back in detention, you said that you wanted to be my hero in middle school.”

Kacchan’s fingers twitched.

“What’d you mean?” Izuku asked, going for the kill. He had a short ride home to get in one last stab to the heart and he was going to take it. “I’ve been wondering about it for a while.”

Izuku’s favorite person slumped in his seat, cheeks still red. He turned away and gritted his teeth. “Nope. We aren’t talking about that.”

“Kacchan, I refuse to believe it’s embarrassing as you seem to think it is,” Izuku said. He nudged Kacchan with his elbow and pushed. Kacchan shoved him away and Izuku was glad for the empty car as he sat up on the bench and shook Kacchan’s shoulder. “Come on. Tell me!”

“No!” Kacchan yelled back. He crossed his arms and sunk down. “It’s stupid. It is so stupid and we are not talking about it.”

“Stupid is believing I’d think less of you for…anything,” Izuku said, sitting back in his chair. “You said it yourself: I’ve seen you at your absolute worst and I’m still here, so what could possibly chase me away now?”

“You’re not going to let this up, are you?” Kacchan asked, narrowing his eyes.

“Nope,” Izuku answered.

“You hold this against me and I’m going to murder you right here on this train,” Kacchan hissed, grabbing Izuku’s shirt sleeve. He shook it once and Izuku laughed at the familiar aggression. “You got that?”

“Yup,” Izuku said. He patted the back of Kacchan’s hand and held it with a firm squeeze. “Tell me.”

Kacchan rolled his eyes back and yanks his limbs back to cross his arms and legs. He stared at the window in front of him. “You remember when you found out you were Quirkless?”

“Yeah?” Izuku asked, rubbing his thumb over his other hand. “What about it?”

“That day, kindergarten me had an epiphany,” Kacchan said, staring at his hands. He sounded rather serious, and Izuku swallowed. “I was awesome and you were a worthless nobody that couldn’t do anything.”

Izuku wasn’t sure he could comment on that.

“Which led to thought number two,” Kacchan said, gripping his hands into his fist. “Since you couldn’t do anything yourself, someone else would have to do it for you. Someone who was awesome enough to take care of everything themselves and still be good enough to take care of another person too. That’s what Heroes did.

“So tiny me realized the future was going to be me being a Hero and I’d be the one saving you from all the things you’d never be able to fight. I’d be your Hero the way it should be because I was the strong one and you were the weak one and that’s just how things worked.” Kacchan covered the lower half of his face with his hand, mumbling into it. “Then you threw all my plans out the window when you tried to save me from that stupid river and I realized you weren’t following the script.”

Which took them back to Kacchan being angry that Izuku wanted to be a hero, too, and his ranting about being worried Izuku was going to get himself killed trying to fight Villains without a Quirk.

It made sense in a way. Izuku frowned as he stared at his own hands, rubbing the scars along the back. Kacchan had taken a morbid pleasure in Izuku’s Quirkless state because it meant he got to be the Hero that Izuku depended on—

“Please tell me you’re not dating Daiki because he’s Quirkless and you’re trying to act out the childhood fantasy that blew up in your face when I decided to be a Hero,” Izuku blurted out, staring at Kacchan with wider eyes. “That would be so messed up.”

“What!” Kacchan stared and saw red, yelling, “No! I didn’t even know Daiki was Quirkless until like the end of our first date. He was legit scared of telling me the entire night.”

He paused and scrunched his nose moving his hands around, unable to stop himself from sharing as he attempted to defend himself. “I mean, yeah. There’s a part of me that’s probably way too excited about the whole ‘I get to be the dependable provider’ in the relationship thing, but Daiki would kick my ass if that was the only reason I liked him.”

“He could kick your ass?” Izuku asked.

“Verbally, you idiot. No, he couldn’t actually win a fight-fight,” Kacchan said, flexing his arm before dropping it. “But I can admit he’s better than me at a ton of things—they’re just all things I don’t care about being good at. Lord knows I shouldn’t be handling flowers or trying to crossbreed plants, but if Daiki wants someone beat up, he knows who to ask. That’s why it works so well between us.”

“Oh, okay,” Izuku said, breathing out. He held his chest and leaned back into the seat. “I was actually worried for a sec.”

Kacchan dropped his head back on the glass behind them and closed his eyes without an answer. Izuku took that as an ended conversation and he leaned on Kacchan’s shoulder, watching the scenery pass by on the other side.

Their night was almost over.

“I know it’d be unfair to ask you for an answer right now,” Izuku said, staring at the back of his knuckles. He breathed out and leaned harder against Kacchan’s arm, feeling the warmth radiating from him. “But if I don’t have a chance at all, I really need you to tell me.”

Kacchan swallowed and leaned his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands together. “What if I don’t know yet?”

“Then tell me as soon as you do,” Izuku said. He reached over and covered Kacchan’s hands with one of his own, digging his fingers in tight. “I can wait.”

“No you can’t,” Kacchan said, pulling his hand back and shoving Izuku’s head down by the back of the neck. “You’re an impatient little twerp.”

“Kacchan!” Izuku laughed and pushed back up, using his arms to shove Kacchan away and free himself from the forceful, but still playful, hold. “Stop it! You’re ruining the moment!”

“I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing that for the rest of our lives,” Kacchan said, laughing as he got up and let go.

The train came to a halt and Izuku looked out the window to see their stop outside the windows. The two of them left the car and hit the pavement, both smiling, albeit one half-hidden and the other too bright.

The rest of their lives.

Izuku liked the sound of that.


When Monday came, neither Izuku nor Kacchan were prepared for the absolute onslaught of questions from their entire class.

Kacchan came out the better of the two because he told everyone to get lost, threatened them with an explosion and ultimately only had to deal with Kirishima dragging him off somewhere at lunch with Kaminari, Pinky and Sero to be privately interrogated.

Izuku, still being far too nice, was stuck dealing with everyone else alone with no escape.

“So? What happened!” Uraraka said, slamming her hands down on his desk. “Talk! Tell us everything!”

“Give him some room to breathe!” Iida declared, holding his hands out. “And don’t tell us the details. I don’t want those thoughts in my head.”

“Stop acting like they made out! Deku isn’t like that!” Uraraka shouted over her shoulder.

(Izuku felt no need to correct her and mention that it was Kacchan who turned out to be the surprising gentleman between the two of them.)

“Still, it was a private moment and we are not privy to that,” Iida said again. “We lectured Midoriya about following people around on date and we should follow that example.”

“This is not the same and you know it!” Uraraka said, putting her hands on her hips. “Friends talk about their dates all the time, it’s totally normal.”

“It is inappropriate.”

Todoroki tapped Izuku on the shoulder and nodded his head to the side. He and Izuku slipped away as the class joined behind either Uraraka or Iida in the great “Is it okay to pry into someone’s dating life?” discussion.

They sat near the window and Todoroki asked, “Did you figure out what you needed to?”

“Yup,” Izuku said. He smiled and leaned his head against the window. Izuku tapped the back of one knuckle against the glass. “If Kacchan doesn’t dump Daiki by the end of the week, I need to learn how to hide a body.”

Todoroki continued his deadpan stare. “I’m not sure they teach that class here.”

“I was kidding,” Izuku said, biting the edge of his lip.

“I know,” Todoroki said. He nodded. “So was I.”

Izuku laughed and pushed away from the window as the bell rang, signaling the edge of break. Todoroki returned to his seat and Izuku went to his, grinning at Kacchan’s shaking back as he continued to steam from his interrogation.

Kirishima shot Izuku a double thumbs up as he passed and Izuku took that as a good sign.


While he itched to confront Kacchan after class, Izuku decided to prove he could be at least a little patient and only waved as he passed him out the door. He could shake Kacchan down for a proper answer about what he was going to choose later.

Izuku made it to the front gate of the school with Iida and Uraraka in tow, when he noticed Daiki standing by the entrance. His school uniform jacket had been opened and had a hand on the back of his neck.

“Waiting for Kacchan?” Izuku asked, slightly confused. Kacchan and Daiki didn’t usually meet up on Mondays, or at least not immediately after school. “He’s still in the classroom, I think.”

“No,” Daiki said, smile strained. His bangs fell in his face, their curl flattened and the shine dulled. Izuku felt his chest tightened as he notice the heavy bags under Daiki’s eyes. He had joked earlier, but he knew nothing about an actual break up between Kacchan and Daiki would be easy. Daiki confirmed it as he said, “I was actually waiting for you. Can we talk?”

“Sure,” Izuku said.

(He probably should have realized this was coming.)

“Good luck,” Uraraka said, whispering in his ear. She patted his shoulder and waved. “We’ll see you later, Deku.”

“I was thinking we could go to the park to talk,” Daiki said. “If that’s okay.”

Izuku nodded, sucking in a breath.

Walking side by side with Daiki to the park felt suffocating and Izuku couldn’t get rid of the feeling welling up in his chest that something bad was about to happen.

Chapter Text

The two of them sat across from each other on separate benches in a small corner of the park near the make-out tree that would haunt Izuku for the rest of his life. The two wooden seats faced each other with about three feet of separation of grass, keeping them close but still putting them on the opposing sides they stood for.

Izuku appreciated the unintentional symbolism.

(Or it could have been on purpose; he didn’t actually know why Daiki chose this place to sit.)

“You know, when you said taking Kacchan from me would be hard the other day, I actually believed you,” Daiki started, leaning back and crossing one leg over the other. He reached up, tugging on the sides of his long bangs, twisting it around a finger. “If I’d known it’d only take you a week to steal him away, I might have reconsidered being nice enough to tell Katsuki going out with you would be fine.”

“Did he dump you?” Izuku blurted, almost ashamed of the blunt question but between the bags under his eyes and the generally somber demeanor, it was a possibility. “Already? We only had our date yesterday!”

(And why didn’t Kacchan say something this morning if he had!?)

“Don’t get too ahead of yourself,” Daiki said, dropping his hair. “Katsuki didn’t dump me. He’s just avoiding me, which makes me think it’s coming.”

Izuku tried not to squirm in his seat as he watched Daiki’s expression. Ideally, this was a good thing. Kirishima had given Izuku a thumb’s up. Kacchan himself was conflicted enough that he hadn’t given a firm answer yet. Daiki was pretty sure that he was going to lose and Izuku was going to win. This was the end goal. It’s what he wanted.

(So why did he feel so rotten?)

“What did you want to talk about exactly?” Izuku asked, rubbing his thumb with his finger.

“Katsuki said he was going to call me after your date,” Daiki said, his shoulders hunching in. He pulled his feet back, almost curling in on himself on the bench. “He asked me why I was so cool with you two going out, you know? I said I trusted him and if a date got this out of your system it’d be better for all of us. Katsuki said ‘okay’ and said he’d call me afterwards.”

Izuku’s thoughts had stumbled a bit over “I trusted Katsuki” and he remembered the declaration at the start of brunch. Izuku dug his thumb into his palm. “And he didn’t?”

“I got a text about three hours after I was expecting one that said ‘Date was fine. See you Tuesday’ and that was it,” Daiki said. He inhaled slowly and exhaled, rubbing his arm. “I know it made me seem desperate and clingy, but that wasn’t good enough. So I called him and he said the same thing over the phone, flat out avoiding my questions.”

Izuku had a good feeing he knew why and bit his lip, still remembering the wonderful press of Kacchan’s chapped lips and the hand on his hip.

“The last time he was this cagey it was to avoid telling me why you two had detention,” Daiki said, half to himself. He paused and frowned at the grass separating them between the two benches. Izuku could practically see the connection click in his head as Daiki looked up and stared at Izuku. “Why did you two have detention, anyway?”

For the same reason that Kacchan didn’t want to tell Daiki about what happened on the date.

Considering Izuku’s all around main goals and the fact his entire purpose of being out here was to break up Daiki and Kacchan, telling him that Izuku and Kacchan had shared some intimate moments of confession was a step in his favor. But it would also probably hurt Daiki to think Kacchan had ‘cheated’ on him, even if the first time wasn’t Kacchan’s fault and the second one was under a sort of half-permission on Daiki’s own part.

Who probably regretted letting Izuku go out with Kacchan right now.

Izuku’s chest hurt thinking about it.

(This is why All Might was still single; Izuku was sure of it.)

But he’d set out to do this and he had to see it through. Izuku knew Daiki was going to get hurt and he’d come too far to stop now.

“I kissed Kacchan in the cafeteria after confessing that I liked him, and he punched me,” Izuku said. Daiki straightened, dropping his shoulders. Izuku kept going throwing his hand up and moving them with his rambled admission. “And then I hit him back because I was really mad that he didn’t believe me at first and it turned into this huge fight that had to be broken up by the teachers.

“But then on our first detention session I told Kacchan how I felt again and he kinda admitted that he liked me in middle school, too, which made things really awkward since he was still dating you and that’s probably why he didn’t want to say anything.”

“He liked you in middle school?” Daiki asked, soft and confused.

“Yeah, that surprised me, too,” Izuku said, laughing under his breath. “I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to hear something.”

“Oh,” Daiki said, folding his hands together.

“As for the date,” Izuku said, deciding if he was going to be honest he might as well go all the way. “When it started, Kacchan wanted to make it clear he wasn’t going to cheat on you, so he told me to keep my hands to myself. But the day went by so well, and we finally got to say things to each other that’s been festering under the surface for years. It was so amazing to get it all out in the open that I forgot myself in the moment.

“I asked if I could kiss him and he said yes,” Izuku said, glancing at Daiki. It was just a kiss, but it meant so much more and Daiki had to know it, too. He looked so reserved and defeated, like Izuku had just confirmed all of his worst fears. Izuku didn’t like making people feel bad. Izuku touched his chest, hoping to massage away the new ache. “This is so unfair. I’m getting what I wanted but I still feel awful.”

“It’s okay,” Daiki said, small and quiet. “I’m still angry at myself for not being more selfish and refusing to let Katsuki go out with you. I think part of me knew if you two went out, he’d pick you, but I wanted to believe he’d choose me so badly I took a risk.

“But I can say if I’d known about what caused that detention, I absolutely would have never let you two have been alone,” Daiki said, his shoulders shaking in a tiny laugh. “I can’t believe he had a crush on you in middle school. I never had a chance once you stepped up, did I?”

“If it makes you feel better, Kacchan spent at least half the date talking about you,” Izuku said, unsure if that would work or not. “Why he liked you, why he thought you were a better match for him, why things wouldn’t work between him and I. Stuff like that. I’m pretty sure he was trying to talk me out of wanting to date him.”

“Didn’t work, did it?” Daiki’s smile looked a tad more genuine, almost warm. “I can tell.”

“The only person more stubborn than Kacchan is me,” Izuku said, smiling.

“I’m starting to…” Daiki trailed off, eyes widening as he shot up straight in his seat.

The hairs rose on Izuku’s back. “What’s—”

“Get down!” Daiki shouted.

He scrambled off the bench and grabbed Izuku’s blazer. Yanking forward, Daiki and Izuku smashed into the grass just in time to avoid the wave of sharp, short metal spikes that shot over their heads, slamming into the back of the wooden bench and landing around them in the grass. They both covered their heads, blocking most of the loose spikes that fell early.

When the onslaught stopped, Izuku assessed the damage: One or two of the spikes had sliced his arm, leaving shallow bleeding wounds, but nothing he couldn’t deal with. Daiki looked a little worst for the wear with one still in the meat of his shoulder, but otherwise he looked fine.

“Are you okay?” Izuku asked, holding Daiki’s uninjured shoulder. “Can you move?”

“I’m fine,” Daiki said, voice high and eyes wide. His hand curled around his wound, the spike sticking out from his fingers as he held it. Daiki looked in the direction of the source of the spikes and whispered. “Is that a Villain?”

Izuku dared to look over the bench and spotted a man covered head to toe with the sharp, metal spikes that looked like metallic fur. The man threw his arm up and out, sending another wave of the sharp objects out toward the park and the crowd. Izuku ducked back down and tugged Daiki closer into his side as they covered their heads again and used the bench as a shield.

“Stay close,” Izuku said. Daiki trembled violently under his hold and it suddenly hit Izuku that he was with a civilian. Daiki wan’t a Hero student; he’d never seen a Villain before. Izuku had to protect him—that was his job. He whispered low into Daiki’s ear, forcing himself to stay clear headed enough for the both of them. “Don’t worry and try to stay calm. We’re hidden here behind the bench and we can hold out until he turns away. Then we’ll run for that building over there, okay?”

“Okay,” Daiki said, eyes still shut as another wave of spikes hit the bench. He flinched under each hit and whimpered. “Okay. Okay.”

“Look what we’ve got here,” a heavy voice said above them. Izuku jerked his head up and he kept a tight hold on Daiki. The Villain stood above them, bright green eyes peered out from behind the curtain of metal hair. “A little U.A. student far from home! Must be my lucky day, but first I should probably get rid of the nobody.”

Izuku’s distinct school uniform weighed ten times heavier than usual as the Villain raised his arm and swung it straight at Daiki.