“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
― Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
“Don't be such a baby,” Katsuki grumbled, rolling his eyes as he tossed Endeavor to Massacre IV back onto the coffee table and popped open the case for The Ghost that Haunted U.A. “It's probably not half as scary as everyone says it is.”
“Says someone who has never been caught in bed with his son,” Midoriya replied, cheeks flushed a brilliant red as he curled his legs beneath him and pulled the popcorn bowl into his lap.
Hitoshi snorted as he returned to the couch with the pile of blankets he'd retrieved from the bedroom. They'd been having issues with the heating system off and on for weeks which the landlord swore was a mechanical issue even though they were pretty sure it was just the latest in a long line of increasingly less subtle attempts to inconvenience them into moving into a different place. They'd set up a few space heaters to offset the worst of the chill, but most of the time blankets did the job well enough. He offered one such blanket to Midoriya, who took it with a murmured thanks.
“Well, that's a fun mental picture," he commented as he settled down beside him with his own blanket, tossing Katsuki's into his spot on the other side of Midoriya. "I'm surprised he didn't just light you on fire.”
“I’d almost rather he had,” he sighed, grimacing. “Having him try to be cool Dad when I left in the morning is something that still haunts my dreams. He asked me to stay for breakfast and then he wanted to know about my agency prospects and if I had any long-term plans. And then he clapped me on the shoulder as I was leaving and thanked me for looking after his son. It was terrifying.”
Katsuki wrinkled his nose and made a rude noise before turning to fuss with the television cables, “Sounds like a real boner killer.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
There were reasons why Midoriya wore a full cowl as part of his hero costume; not the least of which was the fact that his poker face was the most tragic thing Hitoshi had ever seen in his life.
“So, how are things going with the cooler Todoroki?” He inquired, hoping the question sounded casual or that it at least didn't sound like he was rooting for disaster, which he wasn't... mostly.
Midoriya’s laugh was strained and awkward, as he rubbed a hand through his hair, “Oh, they're, um, not, actually... not anymore, anyway.”
Fucking called it.
Called it the second Midoriya had rang them asking if they were busy, if they felt up to a movie night, if they minded hosting.
Midoriya never imposed on them- or he was pretty sure almost anyone- without a prior invitation.
And yet he'd called them.
He'd known it had to be something like this.
Katsuki owed him fifty thousand yen.
“Eh?” Katsuki’s head swizzled around so fast he could practically see the smoke trails the movement left behind in the air. “That dumb fuck.”
Midoriya laughed, sudden and startled and genuine, “Thanks for that, I... thanks, I needed that. But it's fine, it was mutual, well, mostly mutual.”
It probably hadn't been.
"I just... we always had dinner on Tuesdays and I thought..." He trailed off, shrugging and shuffling the popcorn around in the bowl. "It's fine though, I mean, he's busy and it's not like I don't see him, I mean, we're still partners and all it's just...."
Not the same.
Of course, it wouldn't be.
No relationship ever was, at least not right away.
And while he'd never bothered to get to know Todoroki Shouto well enough to make any kind of judgement call about him one way or the other, he still agreed emphatically with Katsuki's sentiment that—whatever his reasons might have been—Todoroki was a dumb fuck.
"Well, we're glad you're here," he replied, ruffling a hand through Midoriya's hair. "Whatever the reason."
"Thanks," Midoriya sighed, leaning into the touch.
It was such a simple thing, but it still made his heart beat just a little faster.
It pretty much always had.
There was a loud bang near the television and they both startled.
Katsuki turned to them, stone-faced, holding the still smoking end of the power cable, “Sorry, blew the cord.”
It took everything he had not to laugh, because there was no way anyone would believe he’d done that by accident.
Or at least that was what he’d thought until he turned to share a grin with Midoriya and found his expression had fallen like a star knocked from heavens and dashed across the ground, “Oh, does that mean…”
“No, it’s fine, this happens all the time,” he lied quickly, setting his blanket aside and rising smoothly from the couch. “I think we have a couple extras in the bedroom.”
He felt bad when he saw the way Midoriya’s shoulders sagged in relief, “Oh, good.”
”Like we’d let a broken cord stop us,” Katsuki grumbled, cheeks a little red and gaze locked on something in the corner of the room. “Get it together, nerd.”
He probably hadn’t expected Midoriya to jump to that conclusion.
“Yeah,” Midoriya’s answering smile was slim and shy, the insult having morphed and mellowed with time into some private joke between the two of them.
They’d all come a long way from who they’d been during their school days.
”While you’re grabbing the cord, I’ll go make some coffee,” he’d commented, turning towards the kitchen only to be yanked to a stop when Katsuki snagged his wrist.
“Hey nerd, you mind making that coffee? I think the power cords are up on the high shelf so I’m gonna need this tall motherfucker to grab them.”
“Oh! Um, sure, you want something specific?”
“Nah, whatever you want is fine.”
Hitoshi allowed Katsuki to yank him back into the bedroom, bemused as Midoriya got up to wander into the kitchen.
“You know,” he said once they were inside the bedroom with the door shut. “That was probably the least subtle thing you've ever done and that was a high bar to clear. Also, you owe me fifty thousand yen.”
“Oh, fuck off,” Katsuki’s warm hands find his waist, sliding beneath his shirt. “Get the fuck down here and kiss me.”
The first time he'd known that he liked Bakugou Katsuki it had been during a training session during their last year at U.A. They'd started training together at Katsuki's instance a few weeks after he'd been moved to the Hero Course during their second year and they'd just kept at it, much to the amusement of their peers who'd all seemed dead certain they'd kill each other within the first month.
“What about if it’s something they want to do?”
”What?” He asked, glaring up at him with eyes blurry with sweat or tears or both from where he lay collapsed on the training room floor.
“Here,” he dug a crumpled piece of paper out of his back pocket and offered it to him.
He took it reluctantly, unfolding and smoothing it out though his muscles protested each and every motion.
Even at a glance he could tell it was Midoriya’s neat, rushed handwriting, “What’s this?”
Katsuki’s lips twisted up in a sneer the same way they always had whenever the subject of Midoriya came up, “Something that nerd asked me to give you. It’s not completely stupid.”
”You read it?”
”Skimmed it,” he replied reluctantly after nearly a full minute, a little red-faced.
He shoved the paper into his pocket to look over it later, “What’s it say?”
”Bunch of shit. Says your quirk might be more effective if you’re asking someone to do something they already wanna do.”
”Help me up?” He asked, smirking as Katsuki’s eyes went glassy and vague and he reached down and grabbed his hand, pulling him to his feet.
It shouldn’t have really surprised him when Katsuki pulled too hard and they crashed into each other and just like that his eyes were clear and his expression flashed instantly from lifeless to triumphant, “You’re making it too fucking easy, dumbass.”
”Yeah, yeah,” he replied, rolling his eyes. It was easy to see his mistake now that Katsuki has capitalized on it. “I should have been more specific.”
”Yeah, yeah, you should have. Idiot.”
They’re sweaty and filthy from training and Katsuki’s laughter is loud and boisterous and it makes him feel mean and reckless.
”Lick the sweat from my skin,” he commanded, grinning, anticipation making his stomach churn as the focus drained from Katsuki’s eyes once more.
The second Katsuki’s hands closed over his shoulders he knew he’d done something he shouldn’t; that he’d gotten carried away, overstepped the boundaries of their arrangement. But by the time he releases his brief hold on his mind, Katsuki’s mouth has already settled over his throat, tongue sliding across his skin as he steered him backwards. He stumbles and his back slams into the practice room wall, a jolt that would probably have been enough to jar them both back to their senses even if he hadn’t already released his hold, but Katsuki doesn't so much as twitch. Instead, his mouth stays locked against his throat, sucking painfully against his skin.
Fear coiled cold and leaden in his stomach as he waited for something, anything, to happen. Waited for Katsuki to swear at him or blow him pieces or something, but he hadn’t.
He hadn't done anything except continue to work bruise after bruise up his neck.
Eventually he’d slid tentative fingers into Katsuki's damp, sweaty hair and closed his eyes, letting himself get lost in the strange, vaguely unpleasant sensation of damp and suction and heat. Leaned into the wall as Katsuki leaned into him, dropping one hand from his shoulder to his waist.
When Katsuki finally drew back and away his shaky laugh had seemed to echo through the room around them, louder than intended, “Ha, guess that’ll teach you to try to get the best of me.”
Katsuki looked as awkward as he felt, like maybe he wasn’t the only one who’d gotten carried away and it made him feel... better. Like maybe he hadn’t fucked up everything after all.
He raised a hand to prod gingerly at the sore spot on the side of his neck. He didn’t miss the way Katsuki’s eyes tracked the motion, “Yeah, that’ll teach me.”
And it had.
Next time, he’d ordered him to kiss him and they’d ended up back in his dorm room stripped down to the waist where he’d sucked a chain of bruises across Katsuki’s chest while he’d clenched and unclenched his fists and tried valiantly not to blow up half the bed.
“So… are we doing this or what?” Katsuki asked, summoning him back to the present where he was standing in front of him with kiss swollen lips, clenching and unclenching his fists at his sides as he always did when his emotions were getting the best of him.
He wasn’t sure if he'd ever seen him quite so nervous before. Not that he blamed him, his own heart had felt like it was about to beat right out of his chest from the moment Midoriya had asked if he could come over. From the moment he’d started mulling over the possible ways the night might go, might end.
And now Midoriya was making coffee in their kitchen and he was available for the first time in years and it felt like.... like everything was right in world. Or maybe like it could be, if they just managed to play their cards right for once.
“Fuck,” he breathed, scrubbing his hands over his face. “Yes.”
It wasn't like wanting Midoriya was new.
The first and only time he’d kissed Midoriya when they were seventeen and Midoriya had dashed up to him after the match that put him in the semi-finals at the Sports Festival that year as if he were as happy for his win as he would have been had the win been his own. He hadn't been prepared, had barely even had time to brace himself at all before Midoriya had thrown his arms around him and hugged him so hard he was sure he’d felt a rib crack. “Shinsou-san! That was amazing! I've been thinking a lot about how your quirk could be applied in rescue scenarios, but I think I've been operating on this misunderstanding of how your quirk actually operates and I think if you just-"
"Midoriya, I can't breathe," he'd managed, grinning in spite of himself as Midoriya immediately released him, falling into a red-faced stumbling series of apologies. "Sorry, sorry, I was-"
He'd still been giddy from the win, that was his only excuse. It had been the first time that it had felt like he truly deserved to be a part of the hero course even though he'd been transferred over almost a year before. His heart had been beating too fast and his hands had been shaking and he couldn't stop grinning and it had felt like he could do anything, anything at all.
So he had.
He was beginning to realize he had truly terrible impulse control as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Midoriya’s.
They’d been warm and chapped and a little damp and Midoriya had stood there as still as he would have been if he’d used his quirk to keep him so.
Distantly he could hear Present Mic closing out the post-fight commentary and announcing the next match up. It wouldn’t be long before they called Midoriya our to the stage.
He stood back, smiling lazily at the dumbstruck look on Midoriya’s face before clapping him on the shoulder and continuing past him back down the entry tunnel to the locker rooms beyond. "Thanks for the compliment, Midoriya. Try not to lose before I have a chance to beat you.”
If Midoriya had responded, he hadn’t stuck around to hear it.
"I'm still gonna win this fucking thing," Katsuki had grouched when he'd flopped down beside him in the stands to watch Midoriya's match. "You're gonna regret all that time we spent training together."
"Doubt it," he'd replied, spreading his legs a little wider so their knees pressed together.
Everything between them had felt so new and fragile then and nothing close to serious. Just make out sessions in training and after, “I ran into Midoriya on my way out.”
”Oh yeah?” He replied sourly, trying not to look interested.
“Yeah, I’ll tell you about it later,” he’d promised and then the match had started and there’d been no time left for talk.
“You still want to do this?” He asked, tilting his head to the side and frowning, pretty sure that Katsuki was gonna wear a hole in the floor of he kept it up.
Katsuki snorted, but his shoulders are hunched and he isn’t quite looking at him, “Are you fucking kidding? ‘Course I do. It was my idea, wasn’t it?”
They'd talked about it a lot during down time at training sessions and late at night when they snuck into each other’s dorm rooms while they'd still been at U.A. Midoriya and their individual interest in him wasn't what had brought them together. In the years after U.A., when they'd interned and then done all their rookie hero work at separate agencies and met a couple times a week for drinks or coffee or the occasional fuck, it hadn't come up at all. Midoriya had hardly come up at all. Sure, they'd both seen him, worked with him, but there hadn't been any time for anything much outside of sleep and food during their hard, mean rookie years. They’d barely even had time for each other back then and Midoriya had existed for each of them individually in their work, but otherwise he might as well have lived on the dark side of the moon.
But that had been before.
Before they'd gone from something casual to something like bedrock, their partnership becoming the foundation upon which they'd built their lives both personal and heroic. It was easier to be a hero when you had someone you knew you could count on, someone who knew every dark, nasty crevasse of you. Knew where all the bodies were buried and where all the scars lay and didn't care. Someone who would beat the ever living hell out of you and drag you back into the light if you should ever stray like so many people seemed dead certain they would.
"Fuck, okay, so we’re doing this. We’re really doing this,” Hitoshi blew out a breath, drunk butterflies flying about bumping into walls in his stomach. “Maybe the fifteenth time will be the charm, huh? Okay, so how are you going to bring it up this time?”
"What? I'm not gonna bring it up. Are you nuts? You fucking do it. Last time I tried it didn't work out."
Hitoshi snorted, snagging the power cord from the top shelf and shoving it in his back pocket, ”That's because you asked him in the most roundabout way possible."
"What the fuck is roundabout about: do you want to come back to our place to Netflix and Chill, huh? Nothing."
"Unless you're Midoriya who I'm pretty sure still has no idea that that phrase has any meaning beyond watch a movie and hang out."
"Well, it's not my fault he's a fucking nerd. 'Sides I didn't see you rushing to correct him when he started asking what movie we were gonna watch and if we wanted him to bring anything."
"Well, what the hell was I supposed to do? He was so excited about it. When has anyone ever been that excited about b-movies and popcorn? Besides it worked out fine in the end. Think he’d even be here if it wasn’t for movie night?“
"Probably not," Katsuki huffed, expression souring as he looked back towards the door. "It's not like we were even friends then."
He wasn't sure if that was true, exactly, but whatever they'd been it hadn't been as comfortable as it had become over the course of years and hundreds of terrible movies, "You're friends now."
"Yeah, I guess. Think there's any chance we're still gonna be if this thing goes sideways?"
He's not altogether certain whether he's ever seen Katsuki look quite that nervous before. It looked and probably felt like an ill-fitting suit, a little tight in the shoulders and far too tight around the chest.
"We don't have to do this if you don't want to. Or we can try to feel him out about it later. He was with Todoroki for a year, it's not like he's planning to move on tomorrow."
"Yeah, fuck, you think I don't know that? It's just...."
Katsuki trailed off, but he didn't need him to finish to understand what he meant.
Every time Midoriya was single--and some times when he wasn't--they tried dropping hints, but Midoriya never seemed to pick up on them.
Movie night, after all, had provided them plenty of opportunities to make their feelings known.
Held hands and affectionate hair ruffles, putting their heads or feet in his lap or encouraging him to get comfortable against them. Once or twice he'd even gone as far as to put a hand on his knee, but even though Midoriya was quick to reciprocate all these gestures, he could always tell the message wasn't quite getting through.
Problem was it was impossible to be sure if that was because of lack of interest or whether Midoriya was just that dense.
A couple weeks before, they'd gone to Midoriya's place for movie night. It was something they almost never did because Midoriya's place was tiny, a matchbox of a place with a futon and a little bathroom that shared a sink with the kitchen. The three of them could barely fit comfortably in the apartment together at all and so when they went there they always ended up constantly jockeying for space, sprawled all over each other, because it was that or sit in one position for hours without moving and the heck with that.
Even laying on top of each other or beside each other on the futon was uncomfortable, but he kind of loved it.
They both did, though Katsuki was always reluctant to admit to it and the first to complain about it if anyone implied he might be enjoying himself.
They never asked why Midoriya didn't have a bigger place. They both already knew it was because he sent every yen he could spare to his Mom or Eri-chan or any of a dozen other kids whose futures he'd insisted on investing in.
Midoriya was such a disgustingly good person sometimes that he wanted to slap him and demand he do something for himself and stop making everybody else in the world look bad by simply existing.
That night they'd ended up falling asleep together on the futon before the movie was even half over courtesy to a long day of hero work.
When he'd woken up it had been to the quiet static of the television and the slant of moonlight from the room's single window, shining across them and Midoriya and Katsuki's heads heavy against his lap and his arm draping over them both as Midoriya curled around Katsuki, face smooshed against his back.
He'd been afraid to move, to even breathe too loudly, and risk waking them and making it weird.
Sometimes you wanted something so badly you saw it when there was nothing really there at all.
It hadn't felt like one of those times.
He'd eventually fallen back into an uneasy slumber even though his leg had been tingling and half asleep. In the morning, Midoriya had seemed a little more nervous than usual, but he hadn't mentioned anything about how they'd spent the night and it had been easy to go along with it, because Midoriya was with Todoroki and he'd never given them even a glimmer of hope beyond the casual affection he lavished on everyone of his acquaintance.
But now Midoriya was in their kitchen--wearing that ratty plus ultra shirt Katsuki insisted he'd had since he was ten--feet bare and hair messy, looking like a dozen dreams he'd never admit to having and it had felt like every night they'd spent smooshed together on the couch or helping each other in the field had been building to this moment. Like if they didn't make something happen this time, they might lose the chance to ever make anything happen and be poorer for it.
"It's probably stupid as fuck to do it now, but... let's be stupid, okay?" He suggested, snagging Katsuki's hand and pulling him to a stop.
If it was a mistake, at least it was a mistake they'd make together.
Katsuki’s grin was wide and wild as he reached out caught him by the waist, hauling him in tight against him.
His hands were warm and his cheeks were flushed and he was quick to lean in when Katsuki went up on his toes to kiss him, hard and fast and wet, before falling back with a grin fit to split his face in two. “I fucking love you and your fucked up hair.”
“And I love you and all your bullshit. C’mon, let’s go do something stupid,”
By the time they returned to the living room Midoriya was still fidgeting around in the kitchen waiting for the coffee to finish percolating, his bare feet tapping out a lazy rhythm against the tiles.
“Hey, nerd,” Katsuki murmured, voice soft with grudging affection. “Coffee ready?”
Midoriya turned towards them with the begins of a smile, “Almost... are you... mm!”
As overtures went, he wasn't sure just walking up to Midoriya and kissing him was the right way to go, but... he probably should have expected it.
They'd tried everything else at that point and Katsuki never was the sort of beat around the bush when a direct approach would do the job.
"Kacchan, what..." Midoriya began, his gaze wide and vague and soft, but Katsuki didn't let him finish the thought leaning in to catch his lips again.
Midoriya lifted a hand to rest against Katsuki's cheek, slowly, tentatively, as if he couldn't quite believe he was real.
It seemed like a good sign.
Or something like it.
His own hands were shaking and his palms were damp with sweat as he stepped in behind him and pressed the first tentative kiss against the sun-kissed back of Midoriya's neck.
He half-expected him to jerk away, but he didn’t. He felt Katsuki's hand catching at his waist, pulling him in closer even as Midoriya's hand found his, the big knuckles of his crooked fingers bumping against his own as he tangled their fingers together.
It felt like encouragement or at least permission.
He breathed a sigh of relief and pushed the fingers of his free hand into Midoriya's dark tangles, drawing his head to the side to give himself better access to lick and suck at his skin.
If that night ended up being a mistake, it was definitely going to be the most memorable mistake they'd ever made.