It’s half past midnight when Katsuki finally gets home, his feet moving mechanically up concrete stairs. The walkway leading up to his apartment is barren and inconspicuous, offering no places to hide. Still, Katsuki glances back at his surroundings, as he shoves the door open. He knows there’s nobody there, but after the night he’s had, one couldn’t blame him for wanting to be sure.
The door slams shut behind him. The entire structure vibrates.
With a groan, he collapses onto his couch. His feet make themselves at home on the coffee table at the expense of something else he must’ve knocked over. He hears it fall, but nothing about the sound indicated that it had broken, so he ignores it, in favor of digging his phone out of his pocket.
It was a new phone, one he’d been more or less forced to buy, after the screen of his old one had been shattered to the point of total unreadability. Note to self: stop throwing your phone when you’re pissed off. Throw something else. Throw someone else’s phone.
Katsuki squints at the list of numbers he’d managed to salvage from the device and quickly dials the one scrawled next to the name Kirishima. He half expects him not to answer, that he’d have to try and fit his entire rant into a voicemail without getting cut off. It’s vaguely relieving when he hears the sound of the other picking up instead.
“Oh my fucking god, you’re not going to believe the fucking shit I went through tonight,” Katsuki begins to rattle off immediately. Whatever arbitrary pleasantries the other had intended to express could fucking wait. “So I’m closing up tonight, right? It’s like, eleven o’clock or some shit, and yeah, the store’s supposed to close at fucking nine-thirty, but whatever. Just keep fuckin’ browsing the raincoats, asshole, because y’know, it’s not like I’m a college student with a mountain of shit due tomorrow. It’s not like I exist as a human being independent from this shitty store. Yeah, when we shut the lights off, we power down all the employees too, and they all just go limp at the registers until you decide it’s time to grace them with your divine fuckin’ presence, dickweed.
“But hey, what’s fuckin’ new, right?” Katsuki rakes his fingers through his hair with an exasperated sigh. At the sound of a sharp inhalation on the other end of the line, he harshly interjects once again, stopping Kirishima before he can even start. “But that’s not even what I’m calling about, holy fuck. So, listen, I’m about to leave. Like I’m tired as shit and I’m finally about to get my ass out of there, but just as I lock the doors, some chick comes up to me and grabs my hand.
“So obviously I’m like, what the fuck? I didn’t say it too loud, though, which as it turns out was a good thing, ‘cause soon as I look down at this chick’s face, it’s like, holy shit she looks fucking terrified.” He pauses briefly to take a breath, and the other end of the line is notably silent. “So like, at the time that shit just made me more confused, because it’s like, in what context does any of this make any goddamn sense? What fucking situation is even happening to me, right now? Like, I don’t fucking know, but I figure it’s probably some serious shit, so I just kinda look at her and try to make some face that won’t freak her out more, and I guess it kinda worked, maybe, because she doesn’t run and starts whispering all urgently at me.”
He takes another deep breath and continues. “So then, she looks me in the eye and basically tells me something like, some guys have been following me for a while, they won’t leave me alone and I’m really scared, so will you please pretend that you know me? I’m fucking floored at this point, but I try to subtly glance around and sure enough, there are like three dudes like twenty feet down the sidewalk and they’re watching us intensely. Shit hits me like a ton of bricks, and it’s fucking weird because up until she told me what was going on I probably wouldn’t have even considered that as a possibility.”
There’s a pause at the other end of the line. Katsuki pinches the bridge of his nose, attempting to quell an oncoming headache. Then, “Wow.”
“Yeah,” he laughs, with absolutely no humor in his tone, “fucking wow. I mean, you ever seen this kind of shit? Is this like a common fucking occurrence or something?”
“Well…” The other trails off, and it’s at that moment that Katsuki realizes, wait, that doesn’t sound like– “I work at a bookstore, and we usually close at seven. I guess that sort of thing would probably be more likely to happen later at night.”
Kirishima doesn’t work at a fucking bookstore.
When he thinks about it, Katsuki’s not even completely certain Kirishima can read.
“Who the fuck is this?” He demands, suddenly very annoyed because oh my god, I’m going to have to repeat all this shit again to Kirishima.
“Uhm,” he hears the boy hesitating. “I-well, my name is, uh, Izuku.”
“What the fuck.” Katsuki deadpans. “Where the fuck is hair-for-brains.”
“I’m not really… sure who you’re referring to?” And Katsuki can tell the boy on the other end of the line is trying to be polite, to be respectful, to exercise the same amount of courtesy one would usually default to when speaking to strangers.
Katsuki didn’t care very much about that sort of thing under normal circumstances, much less after having spilled his soul, more or less, to the stranger in question. He knew nothing about this Izuku person, other than that he worked at a bookstore, like a fucking nerd. In contrast, Izuku already knew quite a bit about Katsuki. Despite it being through no fault of his own, Katsuki was hopelessly pissed off by this fact.
“I… I think you must’ve dialed the wrong number?” The other offered timidly.
“Yeah, no fucking shit,” Katsuki rolled his eyes. “Bye–”
“What?” Katsuki bit out after a moment.
“Well, uhm…” He faltered, and honestly, Katsuki was about two seconds away from just hanging up on the loser, until he said something even more incredulous. “What happened? Y’know, with the girl…?”
Katsuki glared into space, shocked into silence for a solid few seconds.
“Why the fuck should I tell you?” He finally managed to say.
“Because, uhm…” He tried. He failed. “Because, I don’t know, humor me?”
“No.” Katsuki replied immediately. “Explain. ”
“Well, it’s just… I mean, that was a lot, y’know, and like, I listened to all of it, but…”
“Yeah.” Katsuki interrupted. “You listened to all of it, instead of stopping me and telling me I have the wrong number. Like a normal fucking person would.”
“There wasn’t a good opportunity!” He sputtered, and Katsuki could practically see this kid flailing. “You just–you started and you just kept going and I wasn’t sure what to say! So, I just, I mean. I’m sorry? I just want to know what happened.”
“Because now I’m invested in the story!”
“Are–” He cut himself off. On the second try, the other said, “Are you just saying ‘why’ now?”
“You are. What are you even–”
“Why do you keep asking me why?!” He all but shouted, and Katsuki had to stifle an impulse to laugh at just how flustered the guy was getting.
He steeled himself, and asked, “Why do you care?”
“I-I don’t know, I just do,” he stated reverently. “Can… can you just tell me? Please?”
Katsuki’s eyebrow twitched upward. “You’re a fucking weirdo, you know that?”
“I’ve been privy to similar sentiments.”
“People have told me–”
“I fucking know what you said, ass bagger,” he interjected. “I’m just wondering why you had to say it like such a goddamn tool.”
There was a beat of silence.
“I work in a bookstore,” the other, Izuku, answered simply.
“...Yeah, okay. That’s fair, I guess,” Katsuki obliged. A deep sigh left his body. The springs in the couch creaked beneath him as he maneuvered himself to lie down. Might as well get comfortable. “So you really want to know?”
“Goddamnit, fine…” he conceded, jerking the phone away from his head when Izuku promptly began to thank him profusely. Once the other seemed to have exhausted himself by being so goddamn grateful, Jesus Christ, Katsuki spoke again. “So where’d I leave off?”
“The girl who was being followed asked you to act like you knew her. Did you do it?” Izuku spoke with a sort of childish enthusiasm that provided Katsuki with the vague image of some faceless version of him bouncing on the edge of his seat, wherever he may be.
“What the fuck? Of course I did. What, did you think I’d tell her to fuck off?” He scowled up at the ceiling.
“Well, I mean, I don’t know you, so I wasn’t–”
“Just ‘cause I swear and yell a lot doesn’t mean I’m a complete asshole, y’know.”
“That’s what I was hoping,” he replied, then corrected himself, “assuming, I mean. I know that appearances can be deceiving. And, well, uhm–words, and… actions. Uhm…”
“Is shutting the fuck up a thing you’re capable of?”
“Good,” Katsuki grunted, “do.”
Katsuki paused. When it seemed like Izuku was going to keep his word, he delved back into the story.
“Anyway, yeah. I saw the assholes following her and figured this shit was no fucking joke, so I just kind of nodded and started walking with her. We were far enough away from them that they couldn’t hear what we were saying so long as we were sorta quiet about it. Basically, she said they’d been following her for like, a solid forty-five fucking minutes, shouting gross bullshit at her.”
Every once in a while, Izuku would hum along with whatever Katsuki was saying. It didn’t actually bother him, but at the same time, it didn’t strictly conform to his personal definition of shutting the fuck up, either.
Still, he ignored it.
“She said she dealt with this kind of shit on a daily basis–the shouting, that is, and was sort of desensitized to it, but the following part really freaked her out. For me it was kind of like, the fuck? Like, I’m someone who will yell basically anything at fucking anyone, and even I can’t understand why dudes would do that. It’s like, what the fuck do they think they’re gonna accomplish? They think screaming ‘hey baby, suck my dick’ is gonna make ‘em fall to their knees for ‘em? Fuckin’ Christ,” Katsuki rolled onto his side, balancing the phone on his cheek. “I mean, I’ve screamed my share of ‘suck my dick’ variations at people, but those were all non-sexual circumstances.”
Izuku giggled through the receiver, and it was a sound Katsuki immediately associated with the word cute, though he’d vehemently deny it if asked.
“But yeah, I walked with that chick for like twenty minutes, or some shit. Like at that point we were around two miles from my car, and I’m realizing I’m gonna have to walk all the fucking way back at some point, which is gonna be annoying as fuck, but I’m trying not to let it show on my face and junk. We were walking by a gas station at that point that was pretty fuckin’ deserted, and that’s when the dudes decided to fucking escalate shit.”
“What happened?” Izuku asked, blatantly enthralled.
“The fuck do you think I was about to tell you, ass farmer?”
“One of the guys actually came up to me. His buddies are chillin’ around fifteen feet back like a bunch of pussies. The dude’s not that big, but he’s a little taller than me and the gist of what he says is something like ‘we know you don’t know her, so why don’t you back off you fucking white knight.’” Izuku gasped, and Katsuki smirked. “So now I’m just fuckin’ pissed off. I mean, goddamn, ‘white knight’? I don’t even know what that shit’s supposed to mean. And listen, I’ve had a long ass day, so I basically didn’t even think and just straight up punched him in the throat, yelled something about fuckin’ killing him because, y’know, that’s just the kind of shit I say and my parents always said I should be myself and crap.”
“Oh my god,” Izuku’s laughing, something high-pitched and unrestrained. For a moment, Katsuki thinks he sees the walls of his apartment quaking in response, but he soon realizes that it was he who had been shaken. The sound of Izuku’s giggling traveling down his spine and back up, bringing shivers in its wake.
Vaguely, Katsuki wonders at what point he entered the twilight zone, and how he might go about getting out.
“Yeah, so…” He trails off briefly, his train of thought abruptly derailed. To his credit, he manages to get his bearings with remarkable speed. “I saw the other two running toward us, and I’m like, shit, because I don’t know if they’re coming to see if their friend’s okay or trying to fucking attack me, and there’s no way I could know that until it’d be too fucking late to avoid it, and the girl’s still with me. So I grabbed her by the wrist and started hauling ass back the way we came, and I’m just fucking glad she’s wearing sensible goddamn shoes, because there’s no fucking way this shit would fly if I had to run like hell and piggyback her all the way back.
“About three quarters of the way through, I check over my shoulder, and it looks like they’re not following us, so I slow down a bit and ask her if she wants me to drive her to like, the police station or something. She says no, and I kinda give her this very what the fuck look, and she tells me it’s not worth it, which really only intensifies the what the fuck look because, goddamn, how often does this shit happen to her, again?” Katsuki scoffs. “But I figured, whatever, y’know. I just offered to drive her home or something, and she agreed. So that’s it, basically. No more surprises. I just drove her home, she thanked me a bunch, I came back to my apartment, and now I’m talking to your sorry ass.”
Izuku hums, and a weird part of Katsuki thinks it almost sounds fond. Naturally, he reacts with indignance.
“If you’ve got some shit to say, fuckin’ say it, asshole.”
“What? Oh–” Katsuki snorts. “I was just thinking you seem really sweet.”
Everything falls into silence. If Izuku says anything after that sentence, Katsuki doesn’t hear it. He doesn’t hear anything at all over the deafening sound of blood rushing through his veins. There’s a pulse he doesn’t recognize as his own, disjointed and erratic. He feels his heart skipping beats and tripping over itself. He thinks he’s going to be sick.
“The fuck are you talking about?” He mutters quietly. His vision is blurring, and he shuts his eyes instinctively.
“You’re a really nice person,” Izuku tells him. What the fuck. What the fuck. “You swear... a lot, and you act very hostile, but actions speak louder than words. When it comes down to it, you really do care about people.”
“You don’t fucking know me,” Katsuki grits his teeth. Distantly, he wonders what it is about this situation that throws him off so much.
“That’s true, but…” the other pauses. It feels like a fucking eternity. “I kinda feel like I do, sort of? I think people reveal their true selves in situations like that, and the fact you told me about it means you kind of revealed yourself to me, by… proxy, I guess. So to speak.”
Katsuki’s suddenly very glad he didn’t tell Kirishima about this. Or any of his friends, really.
“Just because I did what any normal ass person would do doesn’t mean I’m fucking sweet. What the shit?”
“I think plenty of people who would be considered normal wouldn’t go that far. Most people wouldn’t even want to get involved. I mean, haven’t you seen those social experiments where they get someone to act like they’re beating someone up in the middle of a crowded street? It’s pretty rare for someone to actually step in.”
“That’s a crowded street. This was me, alone in front of a deserted fuckin’ store. Not a lot of room to be a fucking bystander, don’t 'ya think?”
“Okay, granted…” Izuku replies, hesitating only briefly before continuing. “Still, you seem like a sweet person. You haven’t done anything that would indicate otherwise.”
“Get fucked, weirdo,” and Katsuki’s just about to hang up, about to put an end to this ridiculous situation once and for all, but then–
“I want to talk to you more. Can I talk to you more?”
Katsuki is, quite frankly, flabbergasted. Not knowing what to say, he defaults to, “Why.”
“Wh– please tell me you’re not doing this again.”
“No, no– cut that out. Don’t even–”
“I swear to god–”
“Shut up!” He shouted, and oh my god, did his voice just crack?
“Holy shit, are you thirteen?” Katsuki asks, gasping through uncontrolled laughter. On the other end of the line, Izuku sputters something incoherent.
“No, I’ll have you know I’m twenty years old, I’m in college, and–”
“You should’ve just said fucking yes, oh my god. At least if you were thirteen you’d have a fucking excuse, Izu-whatever.”
“Whatever,” Katsuki sits up then, stretching his arms over his head as glances at the clock. It’s almost two in the morning.
“I’m texting it to you so you’ll remember.”
“How do you know I’m not using a landline?”
“Uhm, what are you, sixty?”
“I’d be pretty fuckin’ hot for sixty-year-old.” Katsuki snorts, and to his surprise, Izuku laughs, too.
After their laughter disperses, Izuku speaks up once again.
“Uhm, so... what’s your name, then?” He asks quietly. Timidly. For a moment, Katsuki debates whether or not he should even tell him. I’ve told him so fucking much already...
...I guess one more thing couldn’t really hurt.
“Katsuki.” He states, and Izuku hums in acknowledgement.
“So… does that mean I can talk to you again… Katsuki?”
Katsuki likes the way his name sounds on Izuku’s tongue for reasons he refuses to acknowledge, much less understand.
“Yeah. Fuck, whatever,” he grumbles, injecting annoyance into his tone. Somehow, he knew it wouldn’t come out naturally. “It’s cheaper than therapy, I guess.”
Izuku laughs as they say their goodbyes, and no sooner after hanging up did Katsuki receive a text from him, containing his name along with an obscene amount of emojis.
Looks kinda like Deku, he thinks idly, his lip quirking upward at the thought.
It was then that Katsuki stood up, rounding the coffee table, with the full intention of simply locking himself in his bedroom and promptly collapsing onto his bed. He takes no more than three steps before something unusual catches his eye.
A puddle of water.
To be precise, a puddle of water that appeared to originate from a now-empty cup lying on the floor, so that’s what I knocked over earlier, which was presently soaking through a pile of papers that, upon closer inspection, turned out to be part of the assignment he had due tomorrow.
“Fuck!” He shouts, though he makes no move to clean it up. The damage had already been done.
He’d been planning to blame his inability to complete his homework on Izu– Deku . Maybe make the nerd feel all guilty and flustered over it, milk the situation for all it was worth, and eventually, probably, reveal that he actually didn’t give a shit about it at all.
I guess it’s the same either way.