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Summer Heat

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Izuku stood frozen in the threshold, trying not to gape as Katsuki tried to glare at him while helping unload their luggage with his dad. Katsuki kept gritting his teeth together, movements jerky and just about on the edge of violence. Izuku wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do. Should he help unpack? Go inside and greet Auntie Mitsuki and Uncle Masaru?

“Hey, stop being fucking useless and help.” Izuku’s eyes widened, it was a little hard to remember the last time Katsuki spoke to him without shouting. It took a minute before Izuku realised that Katsuki was giving him one of his many glares. He smiled nervously at the blond, almost dragging his feet forward to help carry their bags inside the vacation home.

The house was mostly traditional in design, with wooden flooring and shoji doors. If it weren’t for the low-hanging light bulbs, Izuku would have thought that the place had no electricity at all.

Izuku waited until Katsuki was padding his way inside, and then walked to the car trunk to grab a pair of travel bags. One was his and the other was Hisashi’s. They were heavy, and Izuku was huffing all the way to the front doors. He carefully toed out of his bright red shoes before getting inside, socked feet barely making a sound.

The floors were cool despite the afternoon heat, the smell of the sea and trees from the nearby mountain lingered in the air, sunlight flitted through the windows and leaves and left spots of gold across the wood.

Izuku could remember perfectly where his and his parents’ rooms were supposed to be. There was never a summer that the Midoriya family wasn’t in this vacation house. If Izuku were to close his eyes, he’d see the days spent hiking in the mountains or afternoons spent swimming in the beach, the sun an almost unbearable heat behind Izuku’s back.

Izuku almost tripped when he saw Katsuki rounding around the corner, coming from where the master’s bedroom was. The teen liked to think he was rational, logical, and in no way terrified of one Bakugou Katsuki since they were friends. Except, Izuku was hiding in an empty room with a shoji door closed half-way, waiting for the blonde’s footsteps to fade away.

Even barefoot, Katsuki was loud and abrasive, and Izuku wished he could let go of the bags to cover his mouth as the blond stalked away. Izuku jumped when the loud stomps were just right next to him. He bit his lips instead, trying not to startle.

When Katsuki’s footsteps began to fade away, that was then Izuku let out a long breath and let his shoulders slump. With the blond gone, Izuku nudged the door open with his foot, almost tripping and falling flat on his ass. After that, Izuku tried to get as quick as possible to the master’s bedroom, dumping his dad’s bag close to the folded futon at the very centre before heading to his.

The floorboards creaked beneath his feet, it had always been like that.

It didn’t take that long to get to his bedroom. This part of the house was a more recent addition compared to the rest. Which was why unlike his parents’ room, Izuku’s had a more modern approach. There was a twin bed in lieu of a futon, drawers instead of a clothes box, and a desk in place of a chabudai. It smelled strongly of bleach and citrus fresheners.

Izuku dropped his bag on the floor. Should he go back for the rest of the bags? There were still a pair left, but Katsuki could have easily carried it with him. It didn’t hurt to check, but Izuku wasn’t sure if he wanted to bump into Katsuki.

He took a deep breath and left his room.

He could hear his parents talk with Katsuki’s when he passed by the kitchen, something about Katsuki and exercises. The kitchen was also one of the more modern parts of the house, and it looked that someone left the door ajar.

Izuku found himself leaning close, trying to glean more information. He felt a smidgen of guilt, but if he had to know because it involved Kacchan.

“—little shit tried skipping out, but—”

“The fuck are you doing?” Izuku yelped, almost falling flat on his face. He turned on his heel to meet annoyed red eyes.

Katsuki’s mouth was set in a deep scowl, his left eye twitching horribly. He had his arms crossed, but Izuku could practically how tense the blond was. As if he was just a moment away from retaliating with violence.

Chuckling nervously, Izuku tried for acting casual and scratched the back of his neck. “Sorry about that Kacchan, it’s just… it’s been some time I saw your parents. I mean, our parents have been friends since forever and stuff, but I don’t always see Auntie Mitsuki and Uncle Masaru so like—”

“Shut up,” Katsuki growled, and Izuku never snapped his jaw so fast in his life. He wanted to try for chuckling nervously, but the taller teen shifted. Izuku clenched his eyes shut when Katsuki raised his fists up as if he was going to use his quirk.

His heart was a pounding mess against his chest, breath going a little shallow. Katsuki grunted, and Izuku quickly raised his hands up defensively by instinct.

Except, there were no explosions, nor was there a hand grabbing Izuku by the collar with the promise of a fist to the face. There wasn’t any shouting or threats either. Usually, Katsuki had done something at this point. Either insult Izuku or try and beat him into a mess. This time, there was nothing.

Taking his chances, Izuku peered through his lashes, somewhat curious. Katsuki’s expression was definitely angry, but he did not have his fists raised for an attack. If anything, he had his hands tucked inside his ill-fitting jeans, looking off to the side.

“The fuck is wrong with you?” Katsuki muttered, shifting on his feet.

Izuku swallowed, unsure how to respond. Their norm for the past four to six years had been Izuku doing or saying something Katsuki deemed as unacceptable, and the blond would either punch him or use his quirk. It was strange seeing the other teen this… subdued? Controlled? Izuku wasn’t sure what it was, but it was definitely out of the norm.

Was it because it was just the two of them and their families?

“Don’t fucking answer that,” Katsuki snapped when Izuku opened his mouth to reply. Rather gruffly, he grabbed the smaller teen by the wrist and began to pull.

“Kacchan, what the—wait, where are you taking me?” Izuku nearly dug his heels on the floor, but he was wearing socks and the wood was polished to a shine. He tripped.

Green eyes snapped shut. Falling flat on his back was supposed to be familiar sensation, but Izuku never got used to it. He always braced himself, always waiting for that painful impact after the dizzying rush of air after losing balance.

Except, it doesn’t come.

Izuku could feel a pair of warm hands gripping his shoulders, keeping him steady. For the second time that day, curiosity had him peeking through his lashes, another strange sight before him.

Katsuki was still scowling, every line and angle screamed annoyance and disapproval, but there was something amiss. Behind Katsuki’s red eyes was something Izuku doesn’t often see, always buried beneath pride and ambition.

There was gentleness behind it, a strange sort of vulnerability that Katsuki refused to show anyone. It wasn’t easy to find, but Izuku still found it and he took in the sight. He drank every detail, committing and burning it to memory, so that he doesn’t forget. That no matter how many times Katsuku pushed and taunted and hurt and left bruises on Izuku, the boy Izuku once befriended was still there. Buried beneath all that rage and pride, was the Katsuki he admired and cherished.

Izuku wanted to hold on to this moment, and never let go.

But all things come to an end.

The moment had come and pass, and Izuku doesn’t protest when Katsuki righted him before letting go.

Izuku wanted to speak –to talk with the other teen – but the words stuck to Izuku’s throat, syllables sat heavy and thick at the back of his tongue. Belatedly, he realized that the voices from the kitchen went silent.

“Come on, Auntie wants us to eat or something,” Katsuki grounded out. His hands were in his pockets again, and his eyes were no longer on Izuku’s.

Izuku swallowed audibly, and then nodded. “Alright.”

 


 

The afternoon passed by too quickly for Izuku’s liking.

The house had a very good view of the beach, just about half a mile away from the shore. It stood at the very base of an unnamed mountain. Pine trees covered nearly every inch of the mountain, filling the air with its scent intermingled with sea spray.

Izuku had to get out of the house, feeling lightheaded and suffocated the longer he stayed. He fled right after a single bite, poorly excusing himself with being tired and needing some fresh air.

Well, it was true, but Izuku felt guilty and horrible for not staying long enough to talk to Katsuki’s parents.

Most of the sky had turned a deep orange; with slight smatterings of purples, blues, pinks, and reds. Clouds drifted lazily by, as if in tune with the waves lapping at the sand. The ocean showed the skies in a warped reflection, made it look like the sun melted into gold across the water’s surface.

Lukewarm seawater lapped at Izuku’s toes; he had been sitting outside for at least an hour now – hugging his knees as he looked up at the summer sky. He left his smartphone in his room, but it’s not like his parents couldn’t go out or fetch him.

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Or have Katsuki fetch him, too.

It… Izuku had no idea what to feel about this strange Bakugou Katsuki. So far, the other boy hadn’t done anything to hurt Izuku. At all.

Which was strange, because the teen had spent a good four years of his life at the receiving end of the explosive boy’s ire. Granted, he still admired and look at Katsuki from a distance, couldn’t help but feel proud when the other boy accomplished something. It was hard to put into words what he felt about the taller teen.

Izuku knew that deep down Katsuki was a good person, there was no doubt about – that Katsuki could become the next number one hero thanks to his quirk. It’s just that Katsuki himself was… difficult.

That or the presence of their parents kept Katsuki in line? No, that didn’t seem right. Katsuki kicked him once on the shin once in front of his mother, and that was after she cuffed him for punching him in the shoulder. So, their parents really had nothing to do with it really.

“Stop being weird, Kacchan,” Izuku muttered between his knees, hugging it tighter.

He kept tring to think of a reason why Katsuki wasn’t very… confrontational, but nothing came into mind. Izuku had been racking his head for a reason, re-examining each and every interaction ever since the other boy helped out with their bags, but there was absolutely nothing.

Except for one reason.

For years, Izuku held on to the hope of Katsuki changing his mind. Of wanting to be friends again. Except, as time passed by, Izuku felt that hope slowly die out. As each punch and kick grew harder and more painful, that flicker of hope that Katsuki felt something for him other than disgust or hatred grew smaller.

But…

Izuku didn’t dare himself to hope. He held hope for a lot of things, and he still had plenty of those – he just… Izuku just didn’t want this one to be just another thing on a long list of disappointments.

With another sigh, Izuku let his knees go and placed both arms behind him, fingers and palms digging into the sand. Stars were starting to dot the sky, the hues of red finally disappearing with the sun as it melted away in the horizon.

Breathing deeply, Izuku stood up and dusted the sand off his clothes. His flipflops was just a few feet away from the waves, so that It doesn’t get carried away. Izuku tried getting as much sand off the soles of his feet as possible, before slipping the flipflops on.

Then, he froze.

Someone stood at a distance. Despite the sun gone, it was still luminescent enough for Izuku to see the vacation’s house outline and the mountain behind it, not dark enough for Izuku to miss the head of wheat blond hair. As Izuku neared, he could see Katsuki’s hands shoved inside his pockets, shoulders slumped and relaxed. He was looking up the sky with an almost peaceful expression – his brows weren’t furrowed nor was his mouth set in a deep scowl.

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Katsuki looked like a dream, his profile bathed under the moon and stars, blond hair nearly white and his red eyes luminescent.

How long had Katsuki been there?

So Izuku stood there, watching Katsuki. He looked stuck in time, desaturated and still.

And it was Katsuki that broke the moment, lowering his head and turned his gaze towards Izuku. He was scowling, but his eyes didn’t have the usual heat. The blond shifted on his feet, sand crunching under his bare feet.

“Uh, hi Kacchan!” Izuku waved nervously, hand freezing mid-wave when the explosive teen made a sound. “Is there something wrong?”

“.. you didn’t finish your food.” Katsuki looked past Izuku with a bored expression. “Auntie said there’s some leftovers in the fridge, or some shit like that.”

“Oh. Okay.” Izuku can only nod dumbly, unsure how to deal with this version of Bakugou Katsuki. Since he had no idea what to do, Izuku can only shift on his feet, unsure if talking or pretending Katsuki didn’t exist was the way to go.

And like before, it was Katsuki that broke the moment.

With a grunt, he took one hand out of his pocket and grabbed Izuku’s hand still frozen mid-wave and began to pull. The blond was quick to turn on his heel, eyes locked on the vacation house, grip firm but not bruising. His touch was just as warm as it was earlier, his fingers burning a mark that seared through Izuku’s skin.

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Was Izuku dreaming?

He felt like he was floating away as Katsuki led him back inside, stopping at the genkan before letting him go. The blond was quick to dust his feet off before grabbing a pair of slippers to put on, seemingly focused on this mundane task.

“Just heat up whatever or something shitnerd, you’re fucking thin as a stick.” Much like a dream, Katsuki was gone as he came, footsteps thudding away as he stalked to his room.

Izuku can only stare at Katsuki’s retreating back, wrist still burning where Katsuki touched it – held it and pulled him.

Swallowing, Izuku toed his footwear off and stepped on the cool wooden floors, wondering if things would change once tomorrow came.

That night, Izuku forgot to eat and had spent the whole time staring at his window and counting stars.

 


 

Izuku could feel the sun’s warmth on his face, blankets bunched at his feet, could hear sea gulls singing so early in the morning. Through the door was muffled movement, conversation and activity between the four adults. Strangely enough, there was a lack of explosive movement and voice.

A blush made its way to Izuku’s cheeks, recalling the downright surreal interaction between himself and Katsuki. It’s almost as if… he was nice.

Amazing as Kacchan was, he wasn’t… nice.

Except when he was.

“I should eat,” Izuku muttered to himself finally, sitting up in bed. The floorboards were a little cold under his feet, and so was most of the house. He took his time getting ready for the day, brushing his teeth a little longer or debating which shirt to wear before leaving the confines of his room.

It felt too soon when he stepped out, padding down the hallway and into the kitchen. His stomach let out a low growl, reminding Izuku that he barely ate yesterday at all. It was… a little hard explaining to their parents what their situation was really.

Alright, maybe Katsuki’s just sick and things would be back to normal in no time! It’s probably a summer bug or something with their drinking water, and the blond was probably the only person affected! Well, there hadn’t been where someone’s personality changed, not that Katsuki totally did a 180 – since he was still abrasive and rude, but he had been pretty gentle and kind so far so maybe a 90-degree angle of personality change?

“Stop muttering so early in the fucking morning.”

Izuku yelped, jumping and nearly falling flat on his face.

Again, he expected his face to meet the wooden floorboards, but something kept him standing up. There was no need to look behind him to know it’s Katsuki’s hand gripping the back of his shirt.

“Watch where you’re going, dipshit.”

With unusual gentleness, Izuku felt himself tugged back on his feet, upright and unhurt. “Uh, thanks Kacchan!”

The smile on Izuku’s face felt more like a grimace when he turned to Katsuki. He tried giving a quick excuse to run off, and Izuku did run off back to his room to get his phone. Katsuki was still there, waiting, when he got back.

“Uh, Kacchan… waited for me?” Izuku shifted on his feet. He should be disappointed, right? Instead something light and warm fluttered in his chest at the thought walking to where their parents were, instead of quietly sneaking alone.

How they made it to the kitchen without a single promise of murder or explosion, Deku had no idea. Hell, not even an angry demand that Deku should shut up and stop muttering. It was just as surreal as it was yesterday.

Worse, it looked like Katsuki made it his mission to stay as close as possible. The air inside the house was mild, but Katsuki seemed to exude a heat of his own. For every step, Izuku could feel Katsuki’s shoulder bumping into his own. Whenever it did, electric jolts ran up and down Izuku’s arm, making him too aware of the explosive blond right next to him.

“Good morning, Izu-chan!” His mom was on the stove, the smell of fried salmon and miso floating deliciously in the air. Uncle Masaru was on the island counter, hands nearly a blur as he chopped a bunch of vegetables for a light salad. Izuku’s stomach made another growl, and it was Auntie Mitsuki that started fussing over him and Katsuki; and got them settled on the table while waiting for food. Right next to each other.

The kitchen was also the largest part of the house.

One part of the kitchen was glass double doors leading to a veranda that overlooked the beach at the distance, crystalline waves glimmering under the morning sun. The whole layout was modern, with bright and minimalist design. The floor was made of light tiles with fake gold plated through them, and the ceilings were painted a light beige. The cabinets had wooden frames and frosted glass, and they were arranged around half of the room. The countertops were of high quality marble, and an enormous island in the very center. They had an enormous double-door refrigerator, an induction stove, a couple of enormous ovens perfect for baking large cakes, and two sinks at least a meter wide.

“Hey, had fun at the beach?” Izuku blinked as his father began setting up the table; placing chopsticks, plates, and cups carefully. “You were outside for some time, Izuku.”

“Oh,” Izuku shifted on his seat, trying and subtly angling his body away from Katsuki. The blond had his chin on an open palm, elbow on the table as he stared out at the veranda, watching the waves. “Um, watched the sunset a little bit. It’s still as pretty as ever.”

Hisashi’s touch had always had been foreign and strange. They were nothing like his mom’s – his dad’s hands were smoother with callouses concentrated at the sides of his fingers close to the tips, similar to Izuku’s. It was a weird thing to have in common despite being miles apart for over half a year.

“That’s great.” Another ruffle, and his dad then made his way over to the expensive espresso machine on the countertop. “It’s nice seeing the two of you getting along.”

Izuku swallowed and gave Katsuki a quick glance; the view outside had his whole attention, his expression was bored, but he didn’t seem to notice the conversation Izuku just had with his dad.

Technically, Izuku tried to downplay just how bad his encounters with Katsuki often ended. He didn’t want his parents to worry too much, since they already had a lot of things to worry about. Besides, Katsuki didn’t really do anything that really hurt.

Alright, that one was a lie, but it could be worse?

Izuku bit his lips, knowing how wrong it sounded, even to himself. Yet…

It wasn’t just Katsuki, really, that thought Izuku was worthless for being quirkless. There were a bunch of other kids, older kids, that liked to pick on smaller ones. That liked to single out the different one.

Yet it was also Katsuki that fended them off, for some reason. Fought them off and beat them back with a smug grin, right before turning to Izuku with a sudden shift in mood. Would punch or kick the smaller teen off, call him pathetic, and then stalk off. Except, it didn’t hurt as much as it did from the older students in their school.

“You really like to mutter, huh, Deku?” Izuku blinked, Katsuki was still looking at the veranda. “You always get beat up because you’re weak and want to be a fucking Pro, that’s fucking why. Just why the fuck won’t you give up on it already?”

Izuku just let out a sheepish chuckle, unsure how to reply to Katsuki. He blinked a second time when Katsuki shifted on his seat to turn to him. He was scowling, but this was different. There was something unusually expectant and serious in his expression, red eyes bright and serious and focused on Izuku.

His skin prickled under Katsuki’s gaze, could feel his face heating. This was a different kind of focus, and Izuku had no idea what to do. Angry Katsuki? He can take. Smug Katsuki? Predictable.

But this Katsuki? This Katsuki that Izuku had no word for?

Dangerous. New territory. Already, Izuku can hear his hind brain screaming at him to run. How will Katsuki react should Izuku answer? He had no idea.

Which was why, Izuku shot off his seat when he heard his mom shout out that the food’s done.

“Oh, always so helpful.” Izuku smiled at Inko and began helping her divide the food into six equal portions. Everything smelled perfect, and the teen’s stomach made another interested growl as his mom handed him a tray of miso in tiny bowls.

“Hey! Help ‘em, you lil brat.” Izuku heard a loud scrape on the floor, and turned in time to see Katsuki approaching with a scowl.

“No!” All eyes turned to Izuku (while Katsuki froze), startled. “Um, it’s alright Auntie! This is kinda our house, you and Uncle Masaru already worked hard enough.”

And to keep Katsuki from helping, Izuku rushed to get the tray of miso to the table. Except, Izuku lost his footing, tripping on his own feet and he could only watch in horror as he began to fall.

Except, Katsuki caught him. Again.

He was quick, Izuku had to give the blond that. Katsuki had one hand under the tray and right below Izuku’s hands, balancing it and kept the contents from spilling out, and another on Izuku’s shoulder to keep him from faceplanting – again.

Izuku’s heart thudded inside his chest, extremely aware of how warm Katsuki’s hand, how unusually focus he looked right then and there.

He heard Auntie Mitsuki let out a relieved breath, his father chuckling good naturedly and his mother coming over to fuss over him. That’s when Katsuki took that as his chance to take the tray from his hands and began walking towards the dining table.

“Are you okay?” Inko asked, checking his temperature and anything else for injuries. “Did you eat yesterday? Oh dear, you don’t need to help if you’re feeling bad. It’s alright, let the adults take care of the food, okay?”

Izuku can only nod as his mom led him back to the table, patted him on the shoulder, and went back to serving breakfast.

Well. So much for avoiding Katsuki.

Breakfast went swimmingly, especially after Izuku pretended that it was just a normal breakfast and that his biggest bully wasn’t right next to him. As always, his mother’s cooking was the best and Izuku ended up asking for seconds to make up for not eating last night. Katsuki went off to help his mom wash dishes without another word, which Izuku guessed as the perfect time to slip away to try and relax.

Vaguely, he remembered his dad mentioning that the onsen’s shower area was just renovated with modern amenities. It took ten minutes for Izuku to grab some spare clothing and towels before heading off to the outdoor springs. There was a changing area, complete with shelves and baskets, for everyone to store their things in before heading off inside.

Izuku took his time stripping after storing his things, throwing his clothes in an enormous laundry basket at the corner of the room, before heading inside with just a small towel and toiletries.

Now that he was all alone, Izuku’s thoughts drifted back to Katsuki and his weird behaviour. It’s been a day, and he still can’t get over it.

“Kacchan is so weird,” Izuku muttered as he began to scrub. Sure, Katsuki was nice- er? Whatever. However, it was just a matter of time before the blond exploded or something and start trying to beat or bait Izuku whenever. It was a little exhausting to constantly be within Katsuki’s radar, painfully aware that he had his eyes on Izuku almost all the time.

Izuku let out another sigh and grabbed the retractable shower head in front of him and turned it on. He tested the temperature first, and then proceeded to rinse off his head first – carefully getting rid the last bits of shampoo before moving on to the rest of his body. He washed the soap off as thoroughly as possible, the warm spray rinsing off the suds from his skin. When he was sure that there wasn’t any soap left, Izuku turned up the shower head’s temperature and began rinsing his feet before moving up – he needed to get his body a little accustomed to the heat before he would soak in.

The shoji slid open, and Izuku quickly glanced towards it with a cheery greeting on his lips.

“Good mor – Kacchan?” Heat rushed up to his cheeks, and the teen instinctively out his hands over his crotch and closed his legs together, beyond mortified. Katsuki stood at the door naked, with a tiny towel slung over his shoulder and a basket of toiletries in both hands. His brows were furrowed, and he looked as confused as Izuku was embarrassed. “Er, right. Um… about to take a bath….”

Izuku chuckled nervously as he avoided the other teen’s piercing gaze, shifting on his seat until his back was turned to Katsuki, and stood up. He had been to a public onsen before, seeing other people naked shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just another body. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Even if Izuku’s eyes were on Katsuki’s crotch lingered a second too long.

He knew Katsuki was fit, he just didn’t expect this fit. At all. They both still had some of their baby fat, but a Katsuki had the beginnings of muscle definition that had Izuku feeling self-conscious of his… weaker constitution.

Then there was the whole everything below the belt that Izuku didn’t want to deal with right now. Sure, they’ve seen each other naked before, but they were four years old then. It didn’t mean anything.

‘So, this means something, then?’ Izuku’s traitorous brain whispered, and he had to bat the thought away as he sat on an enormous smooth rock. He dipped both of his feet in first, trying to get used to the high temperature, letting more of his body sink as he became accustomed, and then slid right in up to his neck.

Izuku really wanted the alone time with his thoughts, but he had to deal with the fact that Katsuki was about two meters behind him. And very much naked.

‘Stop being weird.’ Izuku scowled. There were stones within the pool that served as seats, and it had enough space for Izuku to pull his knees up to his chest and press his face between them.

Worse, he could hear Katsuki wash up. Izuku was too mortified to take a peek at Katsuki’s progress at showering. Leaving right after he just started felt a lot like giving up, and quitting was definitely not Izuku’s thing!

Ears perking up after hearing the shower turn on, Izuku sent Katsuki a quick glance and then ended up staring The explosive teen was rinsing up, and Izuku was glad that Katsuki was just washing up his hair and probably obscured a lot of things from his view. When it looked like he was almost finished rinsing his hair, Izuku discretely turned away and hid his face between his knees again.

Izuku tried not to make a sound as the longest ten minutes of his life passed by, hearing the shower head turn off felt like an omen, and Izuku made a meek sound when he heard the water sloshing as Katsuki nearly jumped into the pool.

If Izuku pretended Katsuki wasn’t there, maybe he can enjoy and relax in peace.

The water was perfectly hot, easing up the tense muscles in Izuku’s skin, but it was certainly weird since he felt like a bow pulled taut with how stressed he was.

The fact that Katsuki was naked and was about a meter away from Izuku certainly didn’t help.

It was a weird feeling. Izuku’s insides felt cold and clammy despite the heat surrounding his body from all sides. His head was starting to feel light from all of this overthinking Katsuki’s behaviour. Two days of… this already had him disoriented, what about a month, then?

‘They’re staying with us for a month,’ Izuku thought rather distantly, head spinning. The thought of Katsuki doing this weird version of nice had Izuku reeling mentally, unsure how to move forward, pretty much stepping around eggshells with how he should proceed. Should he act normal? Pretend that this was out of the norm for the two of them?

Or should he just go along with whatever this was?

It was difficult to think, as Izuku mulled it over, thoughts a jumbled mess. Letting out a heavy breath, Izuku leaned back and –

“Shit!”

Izuku blinked, trying to chase the black spots that danced in his vision. He tried pushing himself up because half his face was submerged in water and even if this spring belonged to their family, it was still unhygienic.

Calloused hands pulled him up, and Izuku blinked blearily as he was pulled out of the water. He could barely think, barely noticed the arm that held him on his back and snaked under his knees. Izuku laid his head over something warm and hard, shivering as air hit his skin.

“Shitnerd, the fuck did you stay in there that long?” Oh, they were moving. “I’m taking you to your room, and you better get cold and hydrated, fucking Deku.”

‘Kacchan carried me to my room naked,’ Izuku thought in despair, burying his face in one of his fluffy pillows before screaming in absolute mortification. ‘We were both naked!’

Day Two was going rather well so far.

After the whole ‘almost a heat stroke’ thing in the onsen, things couldn’t possibly be worse.

Izuku was wrong.

It was ‘Day Three’ when things… happened.

In retrospect, Izuku should have expected it since Day One – with Katsuki acting weird and all, but he could hardly blame himself because anyone would be totally blindsided.

---

“Izukun!” The teen blinked and stopped in his tracks. He was on his way to the front door when he heard his mom call him from behind. He turned with a light smile and saw her smiling while wringing her hands together, looking very sheepish.

“Izukun, we forgot to bring some extra konbu and bonito for dashi, is it okay if you head over to the town to buy some?”

“Sure,” Izuku replied and took a bunch of bills she fished out of her pocket. “Uh, this is a lot for dashi ingredients.”

Inko looked even more sheepish. “I forgot to pack extra mirin, pickled plums, and is it alright if you head to the market for a kilo of tobio and kisu – daikon, renkon, and shiso?”

Well, Izuku couldn’t really say no to his mom, and she was already busy making sure that this enormous vacation house remained pristine during their stay and she had to make sure everyone’s well fed too. Even if it sounded like she just added the last three vegetables at the very last minute.

So, he just smiled as reassuringly as he could at her and nodded.

“Alright, lemme just write that down.” No matter where he went, Izuku always had a notepad and pen ready. He quickly jotted the things down, writing things down while standing up was practically second nature to him at this point. “Uh to be sure – “

“That’s all, Izukun.” Then his mom snapped her fingers and grabbed more money from her pocket. “A little extra if you want to treat yourself.”

“Mom, I’d be fine.” He tried pushing the bills back to her, an embarrassed flush lighting up his cheeks. “I have my own money.”

“It’s alright dear, add this to your savings for All Might stuff then.” Izuku hated how quickly he caved in at the mention of his idol. “Take care, alright?”

“Yes, mom,” Izuku mumbled, discreetly pocketing the cash. “See ya in a few.”

With that, he power walked the way to genkan, the money his mom gave him folded neatly inside his wallet – separate from his own money. After putting some sandals on, Izuku then proceeded to the where the cars were parked. He couldn’t drive, but his bike was supposed to be on the roof of their car.

Which, currently, wasn’t there.

Izuku frowned, he was sure that – wait.

He forgot his bike.

On the day they were supposed to leave, Izuku woke up later than intended and ended up dumping all his bags in the car without double-checking if he left anything behind. And he did.

The town wasn’t really that far, but walking – even with an umbrella – under this summer heat would have Izuku having another near-heat stroke, and it didn’t seem practical to have his dad take him there. Besides, Hisashi and Masaru-san were fixing a part of the house that was in slight disrepair that the caretakers forgot to tell his dad about. Which was why Izuku couldn’t ask him to take him to the town either.

A glance at the Bakugou’s car had Izuku pausing.

Katsuki had his bike.

Izuku could ask the other boy if he could borrow it, but he didn’t really want to risk getting a punch to the face. Then again, trying to sneak out with it would get him two punches.

Between the two options, one punch was better than two.

Sighing, Izuku went back inside, toeing his sandals off, and began searching for the explosive blond.

It wasn’t that hard to find Katsuki – the taller teen was lounging in the living room, watching… stock market statistics? Weird.

Katsuki’s eyes were trained on the enormous television, and it seemed like he didn’t react when Izuku slid the shoji open. Taking a deep breath, Izuku padded towards the enormous leather couch – still in somewhat pristine condition because it was rarely used.

“Hey, uh, Kacchan…” Izuku took a deep breath, gathering as much courage as he could. “I was wondering if I could borrow your bike? Well it’s okay if you don’t want to, I could walk, but I’d appreciate it and stuff if you would but as long as Kacchan wants to – “

“Deku,” Katsuki began, turning to him with a flat look. “Shut up.”

There wasn’t any bite or anger behind his words – while firm, it was almost… gentle, for Katsuki, that was. Still, Izuku had yet to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the other boy.

Izuku blinked when the blond jumped to his feet, scowling as he walked past Izuku and into the hallways. The freckled teen jogged to catch up, panting a little because Katsuki’s strides were a lot longer.

“Kacchan! Wait!” Izuku called out before the blond pulled the shoji to the genkan. He didn’t expect Katsuki to stop, and Izuku ended up bumping into the taller teen’s hard back, almost falling backwards on his rear had he not regained his balance right away.

Katsuki grunted and opened the doors, slipping on a pair of outdoor sandals, before stepping outside. Izuku scrambled to follow, putting his own pair before running out the door.

Outside, Katsuki was already removing his enormous mountain bike from their car, carefully placing it on the ground and then turning to Izuku with a light frown.

“Don’t scratch it.”

Izuku nodded and approached. Red eyes narrowed and Izuku made surprised noise when Katsuki began adjusting the bike to accommodate his shorter height.

“I hope I could reach it,” Izuku chuckled nervously and then mounted the bike. He couldn’t reach the pedals. And he was almost flat on his back just to reach the handles. If heat stroke didn’t get Izuku, a biking accident would have. The teen tried adjusting his body, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t reach anything at all.

“I guess I’ll just walk, then.” The freckled boy laughed sheepishly as he dismounted, almost falling on the packed earth with the bike as he tried to get off. “Thanks for uuuh trying to let me borrow, Kacchan. I guess I’ll be off then.”

“Hm.” Katsuki raised a hand to stop Izuku, and then he started readjusting his bike to the way it usually was. It didn’t take that long and once done, Katsuki mounted it – one foot on the pedal and another on the ground. “Get on.”

“Kacchan?” Izuku blinked, could feel his ears turning red as he eyed the backseat. Katsuki’s bike looked as explosive as his personality – bright orange with grenades for decals. It looked very well maintained – the chain looked regularly oiled, every bit of metal was polished to a reflective shine, the front basket wasn’t in any way warped, and the tires were recently pumped.

“You goin or what?” Katsuki raised a brow, straightening in his seat. “I don’t have all day.”

“Sorry!” Izuku cringed when the blonde’s expression turned nearly thunderous but didn’t say anything else as the fluffy teen plopped carefully on the backseat. Both legs hung on one side, while Izuku made sure his ass wasn’t hanging in the air on the other. “Mom asked me to buy a lot of stuff, is it okay if you come with me inside stores or something?”

Hiding a cringe, Izuku berated himself. Katsuki was already coming with him, staying outside with this much heat would be bad.

“The fuck you think I’m coming with you for, then?”

Right.

Without another word, Katsuki pedalled off.

Which Izuku instantly regretted.

‘He’s so fast!’ Izuku’s fingers tried to find purchase on the backseat pedals, a little unsurprised that the blond had somehow managed to learn how to bike at speeds similar to a motorcycle. On the upside, at least their trip would be fast. And the road was recently paved, so there weren’t much holes or rough patches as Katsuki pedalled away.

Even if Katsuki was biking away like they were on a race, Izuku found himself taking in the scenery and observing their surroundings.

To his left, about a hundred meters away, was the sea – the water was perfectly clear and light blue, the color becoming deeper the farther it was from the shore. Palm and coconut trees lined the road, contrasting with the deep blue sky whenever Izuku looked up. Thick fluffy clouds drifted by lazily with the humid breeze blowing in the air, brushing across the boys’ hair as they travelled. To their right were rice fields, the stalks were green and bright, the water paddies the nearly-clear skies. Beyond the farmlands were mountains covered with trees and other plant life, with a house or two nestled in the thickets.

This part of Japan was beautiful, but it wasn’t developed nor advertised much as a tourist spot. Which was completely fine. Sure, there wasn’t any internet nor good phone service in the Midoriya’s vacation house, but the general area was quiet and there weren’t that many people around. There may be an odd resort or two by the beach or on the mountains where most of the natural springs were, but this place wasn’t well known and the people that tend to tour the place were locals that left for the city.

Ten minutes later, another downside appeared. Instead of slowing down as they neared a road hump, Katsuki sped up.

“Kacchan!” Izuku yelped as they nearly flew off the road, bicycle flying in the air. The teen couldn’t help it, he flailed as his grip on the basket slipped. Pink coloured Izuku’s cheeks in embarrassment as he finally found something to grip on.

Well, more like, someone.

‘Please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me, please don’t kill me,’ he chanted mentally, face buried right on Katsuki’s hard back with a deathly grip on the blond boy’s shirt.

This close, Izuku could smell Katsuki – salty sweet with just a hint of smoke and gunpowder. It must be the nitroglycerin. Besides the sweat, Izuku was aware of a great many things.

First, was the heat the blazing inferno seeping from Katsuki’s core – hotter than the summer sun; second was how rigid the blond was as he biked, worrying Izuku that there was a crick forming on Katsuki’s neck; third was Izuku could almost feel Katsuki’s heart beating, almost in time with his own; last was the soft blond hair that brushed across Izuku’s forehead, far from Izuku’s expectation that it was wiry and rough because of how spiky it was.

Surrounded by heat on all sides, Izuku can only focus on the quick beat of his heart, head and stomach light with the sensations of a hundred butterflies fluttering inside him. This close, Izuku wanted to let go and yet not at the same time, and it was here that he realized just how much he missed Katsuki – just how much he yearned and longed for the closeness they used to have when they were younger, back when things were simpler and the only thing they worried about was if they get to play or not.

Katsuki was quiet, he didn’t seem to be acknowledging the fact that Izuku was pressed at his nape, breath brushing across his sweaty skin. With that observation in mind, Izuku held on, heart beating erratically as he savoured this moment between them.

--------

The town was a lot more modern than Izuku expected. There were still traditionally-styled structures here and there, but almost all of the town already switched to concrete buildings. Almost all of them were new, so it’s likely that most of them were barely a year old.

To get to the town proper, they had to go down a path that led to a plaza which then held several roads big enough to fit two cars. The town was constructed over a small hill, that the general layout was it went lower from the current level of the highway. There were barely any parking spaces within the town – except for the area in the main plaza.

“Just down here, right?” Katsuki asked, and Izuku made a noise in affirmation.

This time around, Katsuki was careful as they navigated down the cobbled path, grabbing the brakes every now and then whenever they picked up speed. After a minute or two, Izuku finally leapt out of the bike as Kastuki stepped off next, guiding it to a nearby rack. The basket had the lock, and Izuku then veered off to a nearby community map as Katsuki secured their ride.

The town was rather similar to a spiderweb in design – the plaza was an enormous circle with various paths that connected different areas to it. The population was shy of half a thousand – and Izuku guessed that this was the type of place where everyone knew everyone. In the distance, Izuku could hear children laughing and an adult shouting at them, sea gulls cawing close by, and gentle waves crashing against the town’s pier.

The market was just further down from their current location, and there was a general store to the east side just in case some of the stuff weren’t available. With that in mind, Izuku turned to Katsuki who was a good ten feet away, fiddling with his phone.

Izuku was about to call Katsuki to follow but thought better about it.

“Kacchan, the fish market’s further down,” Izuku beamed, trying to hide the nervous edge in his voice. “Are you gonna stay here or um?”

Katsuki looked up, raising a blond brow. Instead of blowing him off, the teen just stepped closer to Izuku as if to follow. Well, Katsuki was close, but he stood at some distance.

Trying to smother the panic of going out in public with just Katsuki, Izuku began to trudge on.

Not that many people were outside at this time, and a quick peek at some of the buildings with enormous windows showed everyone was trying to escape the heat – fanning themselves at fans or AC units as the sun’s rays shone mercilessly above.

The walk to the market was mostly quiet, except for Izuku as he mumbled and made noises of appreciation as he watched the locals use their quirk without a care. He didn’t usually come by the town for the past few years, but Izuku could never stop remaining in awe whenever as they walked down. There was an old man with a smoke manipulation quirk blowing out multi-colored puffs of various shapes; a couple of kids had sand trailing in the air as they skidded on a trail of something shimmery and blue.

The path to the market was full of stores and various stalls, selling different kinds of specialty snacks and glass figures, all depicting various sea and land creatures. Izuku would pause to inspect a few of the items on display and a lot of the shopkeepers selling food would let him have a bite-sized piece of their specialties. Then he’d sheepishly ask for another sample to give to Katsuki too. He didn’t want the blond to feel left out, especially a lot of the food had a hint of spice in them.

Other than the food, the many glass sculptures excited Izuku – especially ones that depicted Pro Heroes. There was a beautiful and detailed glass figurine of All Might with the aftermath of a Detroit Smash. The blown glass managed to portray the displacement of air and the power packed in All Might’s punch, fluid and dynamic despite being a still sculpture. Other than All Might, there were a lot of beautiful sculptures as well. There was one of Endeavor leaping in the air with curling flames exploding outward from his intimidating form.

“They’re really dynamic! I don’t know much about shaping glass, but those look very difficult and the colors! They’re very vibrant and the important ones pop out really nice and oh – they’re just five hundred yen! Kacchan I – “ Izuku bit the inside of his cheek, turning to the blond boy that was tailing him. Katsuki raised a brow.

“If you want it so much, buy it then.” The explosive teen had his hands inside his pockets, shoulders slumped. There was a spark of something in his eyes, something that ignited a whole plethora of confusing flutters in Izuku’s chest. Then something in Katsuki’s expression flickered that had reality rushing back to Izuku. “What are you waiting for then?”

Flushing lightly, Izuku turned to the shopkeeper – who was carefully using tiny metal rods to shape glass of varying shades and hues. Izuku just asked to have the All Might figurine ready, since he didn’t want to accidentally break it while in the market. The teen then left his payment and pocketed the receipt so that he could claim it later.

They then spent the rest of the walk in a strange sort of two-sided communication, where Izuku would gush and mumble about the many things that caught his eye while Katsuki would grunt or reply in terse sentences as they went on.

Eventually, they reached the market and Izuku spent most of it talking to the people manning the stalls and making a mental list on where to get good deals. The afternoon sun beat mercilessly on their backs, and by the time they were done shopping, the heavens had changed from a deep blue to a beautiful mix of purples, reds, and oranges.

By that time, though, Izuku’s arms were beginning to ache with how much bags he carried with them.

“Fuck it,” Katsuki started, making Izuku jump. He began gathering almost all of the plastic bags from Izuku’s hands, easily hefting them in both of his arms. “Your weak ass noodle arms can’t even carry a tray of fucking miso, just use those to carry All Might merch or some shit.”

Izuku couldn’t stop the grin from appearing on his face as his once childhood friend began marching up, carrying everything they bought with him. What was more surprising was Katsuki stopping by the sculpture shop where the All Might figure was, waiting patiently for Izuku to catch up so he could grab the bauble before leaving.

“Hurry up!” Katsuki called, and the freckled teen jogged to catch up – nearly out of breath by the time he reached the shop. The owner didn’t even look at Izuku’s receipt, and simply handed the teen a box with the figurine. “Fucking finally.”

“Thank you!” Izuku beamed at the owner, holding the package with utmost care against his chest. The teen couldn’t stop smiling, really happy he got something so beautiful and delicate that depicted his idol – an enormous contrast to most All Might merch, which were just as heavy and sturdy as the person that inspired their creation. The whole day had been wonderful so far, and it felt like Izuku could float in air any time. Then he turned to Katsuki and felt his heart stop.

Katsuki was smiling – not smirking or baring his teeth but smiling. The expression was so strange to see on his face – which was often set in an angry scowl or an arrogant jeer. It looked so out of place, so… delicate for someone like Bakugou Katsuki. That even when their eyes met, it felt like the moment had stretched on to forever: in this idyllic town by the sea where it’s just the two of them that existed.

“You and your boyfriend take care!” Then the moment was gone, broken by a sharply grinning store owner of a pretty shop.

Izuku felt his heart stutter as they wrenched their gazes away. Despite the fact that mortification and embarrassment were on the forefront of Izuku’s mind as he resolutely avoided Katsuki’s gaze, he couldn’t help but latch on the sight of the pink flushing Katsuki’s cheeks before they glanced anywhere else except for each other.

‘What does it even mean?’ Izuku quietly helped Katsuki load the items on the front basket and then strapped the rest under the seat when there wasn’t enough space. Their hands brushed once or twice, and both of them ended up pulling away too fast. Except, Izuku definitely felt the jolt of electricity whenever their skins touched, sending shivers up and down Izuku’s spine pleasantly.

“Good thing we have water, right?” Izuku mumbled, smiling nervously when he realized that his throat had gone dry. Katsuki just grunted as he unlatched his bike. Once free, he began pulling it up – no sense trying to ride it and then end up rolling backwards and into the sea. Once they reached the very top – where the road home was even, that was when the two boys sat on their respective places.

The wind was cooler now, blowing a lot of stray leaves into the road, the heat from the ground slowly fading away as the sun disappeared from the horizon. Here, Izuku finally noticed that the spray from the waves reached this far, and the subtle hint of smoked fish wafted from the town below them. Izuku gave it one last glance before nudging Katsuki he was sitting securely on the backseat and was ready for the violent pedalling.

“We can go now, Kacchan.” Izuku was smiling, and something light and warm fluttered in his chest when Katsuki glanced back – a brief flash of a hint of a smile appearing on the blonde’s face.

Without another word, Katsuki kicked off. They were a lot heavier now compared to a few hours ago, while it slowed Katsuki a bit, he still pedalled like he’s trying to achieve a motorcycle’s terminal velocity. Stars began dotting the part of the sky that was turning into a deep navy blue as it chased the lavenders, pinks, gold, and reds away. The moon was bigger as it rose over the horizon, with just a hint of gold on its usually ivory surface.

The wind whipped through Izuku’s and Katsuki’s hair, carried the sweet smell of Katsuki’s sweat as they biked away. It was a lot smoother experience, and Izuku didn’t have to worry about flying off every time they went through a hump.

There was no reason to do what Izuku just did, but he did it all the same.

The road was a little bumpy despite the fact that it was recently paved, or that Katsuki was biking recklessly even if it was really slow – that’s what Izuku told himself as he placed both of his trembling hands on Katsuki’s sides and then held on. It was… nice. Just holding on to Katsuki like this, in a world with just the two of them present.

Maybe that was why Izuku can only wear a wistful smile as he admired the many constellations that began to paint the cobalt skies, taking in the air where Katsuki’s scent and the sea spray surrounded him. It wasn’t long before any hint of warm colors finally faded away as night finally settled in; almost silent if not for the leaves rustling with the wind, the waves gently cresting over the sands, Katsuki’s steady breathing as the bicycle creaked beneath their combined weight, and the sound of tires over the rough pavement.

Izuku couldn’t help but wish that this moment would stretch as far as the road did, seemingly endless. Except his house waited at the end of the road.

Sorrow tugged at Izuku’s chest as they slowed down, Katsuki turning towards the smooth path that led to the vacation house. Paper lanterns with light bulbs illuminated the exterior, moths flittered around them as cicadas an crickets chirped in the background.

The bike slowed first before coming to a rough stop, displacing a dirt and rocks. Izuku and Katsuki got off at the same time, with Izuku trailing after Katsuki as he walked his bike next to the front door.

The two of them distributed the plastic bags and wrapped packages in silence, their hands brushing together as they unloaded. Izuku could feel his face warming up as jolts of electricity ran up his arm whenever their skin made contact, and glancing at blond… he could see it was the same for Katsuki too. This quiet lull where it’s just the two of them hadn’t quite ended, but Izuku knew without a doubt that it will.

Their parents were out in the veranda, the smell of grilled fish and beef filled the kitchen air, and their voices echoed in the halls. There were folding tables and chairs (six of them, four were occupied) outside and an enormous cooler with ice, bottles, and cans that filled it to the brim. On one end of the table were raw proteins and vegetables, waiting to be grilled (and weren’t those a lot for just six people?). The other end were the grilled mackerel, squid, clams, beef, and chicken – along with some vegetables like bell peppers and onions. There was an enormous pot of rice and miso soup sitting on wooden holders, along with a pile of cutlery and dishware – some of them with half-eaten meat.

Inko and Masaru were discussing Izuku and Katsuki’s grades while Hisashi and Mitsuki were talking something about a pharmaceutical. Their moms welcomed them both while their dads stood up from their seats and helped them arrange their purchases, sorting through the items and storing them either in the cupboards or the fridge.

“You two must be starving, come eat!” Inko was already prepping food for the two of them, heaping rice in their respective bowls before handing them off along with a pair of chopsticks each, followed by plates of grilled beef and chicken. “Enjoy!”

Sitting side by side another time, Izuku found that the air between him and the explosive teen wasn’t as tense and awkward. Not like a few days ago. Their knees bumped together as they accepted the offered food from Inko before saying their blessings.

“Time to eat,” Izuku muttered and began to dig in, realizing just how hungry he was after taking a bite. Technically, Izuku and Katsuki tasted a lot of the local specialties, but none of those were enough to be the equivalent of a full meal. The meat were grilled to perfection, fats rendered down and the caramelization on the skin gave it powerful savory notes with a hint of sweetness with just a touch of bitterness from the char.

Next to Izuku, he could hear Katsuki making appreciative noises with every bite, and he couldn’t help but feel happy that the blond was enjoying his mother’s food. Their knees keep on brushing against each other, and Izuku could feel static dancing up and down his legs and into his spine. Not like earlier, he didn’t try to stop it and when they were halfway throughout their meal, their legs were nearly intertwined.

Turned out, all the adults were just waiting for the two of them to come back and resumed eating. Izuku didn’t have to worry really about the food being too much, as their parents were planning to have a small drinking party. Katsuki began complaining when his mother started teasing him on “getting started”, pushing a can of beer she almost shoved at his face away.

“You could taste a little bit if you want, Izukun.” The teen flustered when his dad offered a bottle of beer. Katsuki made an indecipherable noise, when Izuku laughed nervously before declining sheepishly. “It’d taste better at the onsen.”

“Dad, we’re underaged…” Laughing nervously, Izuku shook his head as he stood up. “Besides, I don’t wanna know how bad hangovers are until I’m eighteen.”

“Ah, what a polite kid. Can’t you be a lil more like that, ya lil brat?” Mitsuki began to ruffle her son’s hair, who swatted her hand before jumping to his feet and began to help Izuku cleaning up. “Well, at least there’s that.”

“Tch, whatever.” Katsuki made a face at his mother before nudging Izuku to grab the dishes he already had in his hands. “You wash, I dry.”

“Sure!” Izuku beamed.

The two of them together made short of the dishes and had somehow managed to talk with their parents while working. Izuku could feel the lightness in his chest expanding as he could feel and hear Katsuki move right behind him, focused on getting the job done and getting it right.

Izuku lingered after he finished with washing the dishes, wished his parents a fun night, and then gave Katsuki a grin before padding off to his room. The blond acknowledged it with a slight shrug, before continuing with the chore.

Everything felt like a dream – Izuku had been on cloud nine ever since the trip to the town, and this tentative closeness with Katsuki was far more than Izuku could dream off.

A sunny smile that could light up a whole world drowning in darkness was on Izuku’s face as he settled down in bed, now realizing how much the trip had exhausted him. Before he closed his eyes, the last sight Izuku saw was the delicate crystalline All Might at the edge of his bed dresser, twinkling under the moonlight.

-----

Izuku was up before the sunlight touched his exposed legs, blankets thrown over the floor and clothing a wrinkled mess. The past few days had Izuku groggy and bleary eyed when he woke up. Now, he brimmed with energy, could feel himself vibrating under his skin as he did his morning routine, then put on socks, before heading out of his room.

His phone was still fully charged, but mostly undisturbed as there was hardly any reception. Calls and messages within the area was fine, but Izuku would have to head to town just to use data services. He hadn’t had the chance yesterday, since he was busy shopping with Katsuki – that and there didn’t seem to be any interesting stuff happening in the cities the last time he checked.

Besides, Izuku wanted to explore the mountain behind the house, since he didn’t have the chance the year before. Not that he hadn’t explored it yet, but the last time Izuku was there, he threw a bunch of seeds in an area by a river on a whim and he couldn’t help but think if it grew or if rain carried them away.

Instead of grabbing slippers when Izuku reached the genkan, he took his bright red shoes instead.

It was still chilly outside, the early morning fog nearly blotting out the landscape. Despite the sleepy hour, it wasn’t totally silent. About a dozen sea gulls flew about and their cries carried through the mist, insects still chirped about, and calm winds pushed gentle waves across the sand and rustled across leaves.

He had a backpack full of supplies – water, a first aid kit, flashlights, and a bento full of last night’s leftovers. When Izuku packed the food, he chanced on all the adults sprawled out in the living room snoring and groaning the alcohol away. Izuku worked as quietly as possible and made sure that the kitchen was completely dark before leaving. It was a little hard and he had a lot of near misses (dropped a pan), but his and Katsuki’s parents didn’t even seem to notice it at all.

With everything set, Izuku took a deep breath and followed a stone path that lead to the back of the house, then to an old cobblestone path that led deep into the mountain.

A lot of corrode deer statues lined the path, any engravings or writings at their bases already eroded and weathered out as ivy and other plants grew and snuck inside the crevices. Most of the stone came loose over the years, left patches of rich soil out in the open and for plants to turn into their home. Moss and mildew grew in some of the exposed stone, made it slippery and Izuku had to take careful steps to avoid tripping.

The air was fresher here, the smell of trees and lichen blew in the breeze, leaves swaying gently. Heat slowly trickled through the gaps between the leaves, warmth lingered in the spaces between.

Izuku made sure to drink as much water as he could when he started feeling thirsty, his pace slow and relaxed, pausing at some of the steps to admire his surroundings. Eventually, the footsteps gave way to a rocky path, and Izuku was glad that the soles of his shoes were just as good for mountain climbing.

The trees parted into a small clearing, grass and multitudes of flowers of different colors spread across the field, the sun partly hidden behind fluffy white clouds against a cerulean sky. Beyond the fields was an unmarked path that Izuku knew led to the river. He hadn’t explored much beyond it, and Izuku wondered if there were actually deer that grazed close by.

He would have admired the field a little longer, but Izuku’s eyes grew wide in surprise.

Just at the edge of the path at the other side of the field was a shock of blond hair. Katsuki was kneeling, partly hiden by the tall grass and flowers, but it was unmistakably him. Izuku couldn’t see what the taller teen was looking at, but he made no move to approach.

Unsure on how to proceed, Izuku simply opted to observe the field. The cedar trees surrounding them reached for the skies, moss and lichens and vines circled their bodies in a blanket of green. Below Izuku’s knees were a myriad of violets, baby blues, yellows, reds, and more – the grass just as vibrant with dew still clinging to their forms.

There wasn’t much in terms of diversity at the park in Mustafu, and it wasn’t like Izuku frequented the parks to look at the plants. Especially when there were hero sightings that Izuku should record in his notebooks.

Despite the fact that Izuku’s gaze was on the flowers, his body angled to a random direction, he couldn’t help but be hyperaware of the fact that Katsuki was close by. His eyes keep flitting towards the explosive teen, curiosity and caution warring inside his head. Even with the wind rustling the leaves, Izuku was all to conscious of every sound he perceived to have come from Katsuki.

It felt like hours before Izuku heard shoes crunching on grass, and a quick glance to the left was Katsuki taking his time avoiding the flowers as he walked. He had a backpack too, water bottles strapped at the sides, and a lunch bag.

Izuku should have glanced back at the flowers at his feet, but he couldn’t take his transfixed gaze off his childhood friend. He was as bright as the sun.

“Kacchan?” Izuku chuckled nervously, the bag felt like it doubled in weight against his back. “I didn’t know you were here.”

The blond snorted and jerked his head towards the tree he had been inspecting earlier. “It’s almost noon, it’s pretty shady there.”

Izuku blinked, noting that Katsuki was now avoiding his eyes with pink in his cheeks. The smell of nitroglycerin was thicker, made the air sweeter, and Izuku could see the trails of sweat glistening down Katsuki’s forehead and bare arms. Why he opted to wear a black t-shirt was beyond Izuku at the moment.

“So?” His tone was more snappish then, extremely impatient. Then Katski made a face, his expression sullen and subdued this time around. “Let’s just hurry up and eat.”

Izuku’s heart leapt up his throat, tears began to sting his eyes and it was with deliberate slowness that Izuku reached for Katsuki’s proffered hand. Even if Izuku had been more than familiar with Katsuki’s hand for the past few days, the warmth and the spark of electricity when they made skin contact never failed to light a fire inside Izuku’s chest.

Katsuki pulled him to his feet easily and did not let go even when the two of them were on their feet.

“Come on,” the blond muttered, the pink in his cheeks deepening into tomato red. Izuku could feel calloused fingers tighten against his palm. While the sun was hard on the two of them that it made every inch of exposed skin hot, it felt like every contact with Katsuki burned hotter than that. Swallowing his nervousness, Izuku gathered as much nerves as he could to twine his fingers together with the blond.

There wasn’t any sort of retaliation or hostile reaction that would have Katsuki pulling his hand away, if anything, he pulled Izuku closer to his side.

‘This is really happening,’ Izuku thought, face burning and lightheaded with giddiness until he was shoulder to shoulder with the taller teen. ‘This isn’t a dream at all.’

They stopped at the foot of an enormous maple tree, its leaves still green. Its branches and leaves grew to form a dome, and it did give better shade than the other trees present.

Even when Katsuki let go to grab a blanket from his bag, Izuku’s hand still burned with impressions of the blonde’s fingers against his – their palms sliding together, slick with nitroglycerin. Both removed their shoes after the Katsuki laid the blanket and their bento out, and then stepped inside.

Leftover grilled meat, pickled plums, vegetable salads, and fruit slices laid before them. Now that there was food present, Izuku realized how hungry he was. With near synchronized motions, both boys muttered their thanks and then dug in.

The food was cold, but it was alright since it was still as tasty as it was last night. The amount of food present was good for at least four people, and it was no surprise they had quite a lot of leftovers enough for dinner. If they don’t spoil.

After eating and putting away the food, Izuku felt like he was close to bursting with how much he ate, and then ended up plopping down on the blanket. The sun was still high up in the sky, and there was no rush to leave just yet.

Izuku felt Katsuki shift, small explosions going off his hands since there was no one to reprimand him for using his quirk in public. There were insects chirping at this time of the day, accompanied by the distant warble of a river nearby.

This was nice. It’s a world where it was just Deku and Kacchan with a dome of maple leaves that separated them from everything else, a rare moment of peace and something like understanding between them.

‘And something more,’ Izuku thought, stomach fluttering with a thousand butterflies. Even if they had about a feet separating the two of them, Katsuki emanated a strange sort of warmth that was nothing like the blistering heat that came from the sun.

Content and relaxed, Izuku let his eyes drift, just taking in the sounds and the smells of the field. The maple tree had a sticky sweet fragrance that mixed with Katsuki’s nitroglycerin sweat, saccharine with just a hint of smoke and gunpowder from the combustions.

Eventually, Izuku let himself drift, breath evened out into a steady pattern. If he felt a too warm hand brushing through his curls, he slept knowing that it wasn’t a dream.