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briar roses (and hundred years of sleep)

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In complete honesty, no one who knows the Class 3-A should be surprised anymore.

It’s beginning to reach the level of ridiculous predictability rivaling most sit-coms and has resulted someone suggesting more than once that the class should definitely wear some bullet proof protective armor every time they step out of the dorms.

You know, just in case something happens.

Unfortunately ‘just in case’ seems to be a re-occuring thing.

And at this point, they should really consider it and just go with it.

It starts like it often does with the Class 3-A.

Villains are drawn to them like sharks, smelling fresh blood in the water. Eager to prove themselves, to tackle that troublesome class of infuriating brats who torment the League of Villains.

So they circle around them, taunting and smirking, flashing wide rows of teeth at them, and then, it’s thick smoke and fight, white explosions tearing through the streets, lightning flashing, civilians screaming -

- car alarms blaring through the foggy air -  

But when the dust settles, when the civilians are safe, when it’s quiet again -

Izuku is asleep.

To be fair, everyone on the class 3-A has seen him passed out and drooling at least once, so it wouldn’t be a big deal, usually. The key word being usually.

Uraraka says he sleeps like a baby bunny.

Katsuki says Deku sleeps like a fuckin’ limp noodle.

And today, in the stillness of Hosu General Hospital, Iida says they should definitely leave Midoriya alone.

Recovery Girl couldn’t agree more with Iida and huffs with obvious annoyance. “We do not know the specifics about the Quirk, so please do not make fun of his state.”

Sero makes a face. “Aww, man, I kinda wanted to draw a dick on his forehead.”

     “Sero!” Iida scolds him, his eyeglasses flashing with extreme disapproval.

     “How about a smiley face? ‘Cause Midoriya is such a sunshine?” Sero grins, waggling his eyebrows.

     “Absolutely not, no sunshines or penises anywhere - “

Katsuki grits his teeth.

     “Can it, Glasses. How long’s he gonna be out of it?” he demands, and Recovery Girl purses her lips into a thin line, deepening the wrinkles around her mouth.

     “Watch your tone, young man. And like I said, the details are...vague, to say the least. The Villain in question seems to view this as an undeniable victory to his name - which is extremely reprehensible,” she clicks her tongue. “Attacking children and gloating about it, my word. But we and the police department are doing our best to get to the bottom of this.”

     “So, what, he’s just gonna sleep until you figure it out?”

     “Well, the dude said ‘Sleeping Beauty’, bro, dunno what you expected,” Kirishima points out patiently.

     “Didn’t expect it to be fucking literal, for starters!”

     “Language!”

     “You think Deku-kun’s beautiful?” Uraraka asks curiously, her brown eyes very wide and very smug in a way that makes Katsuki squint at her.  

He’s seeing right through that ‘friendly neighborhood girl’-facade, he’s so onto your bullshit, Uraraka.

     “Stop puttin’ words into my mouth, that ain’t what I said. Bunch of lame-ass losers, spewin’ shit,” he grumbles.

     “Not to mention he’s going to miss school.”

Kaminari sighs. “Yeah, Iida, ‘cause that’s what’s worst about this. That he’s not conscious enough to keep up.

Iida looks positively scandalized. “Well, excuse me, it’s important to him!” he huffs. “So of course I’m worried about it!”

     “Does anyone else think Mr. Grimm is a lame name for a Villain? Like seriously. Mr. Grimm. I think it’s weird.”

     “Well, Deku ain’t laughing, now is he,” Katsuki snaps.

     “No, genius, he’s asleep. Y’know, second day on a row, just snoring away. Which is way better than being dead, anyway.”

     Oi, Pikachu, you wanna get punched?”

     “Shut up, no?!”

Kirishima sighs. “Can everybody just chill? Midoriya doesn’t need this right now.”  

They all trail off and glance at Izuku as if expecting him to suddenly open his eyes and sit up.

(to flash a bright grin at them, saying sorry for worrying them, because that’s what the damn nerd always says, even though it wasn’t his - )

But Izuku does no such thing; he lies still under the blankets, his skin awfully pallid under the hospital’s fluorescent lights, tired dark bruises under his eyes.

He’s so still.

     “It’s strange to see him like this,” Tokoyami murmurs.

     “Aww, I miss his mumbling, too,” Mina adds miserably, resting her head on Tokoyami’s shoulder.

Katsuki’s hands clench into fists. “Shut up. He ain’t dead so stop talkin’ like he’s gonna kick the bucket,” he growls, the muscles in his jaw straining together.

Iida raises his arms. “We are all worried about him,” he says with rational calmness that makes Katsuki’s shoulders tense even further, “but we are not helping by yelling at his bedside. We can come back tomorrow.”

     “I might have some news for you then,” Recovery Girl remarks from her office.

     “Thank you so much for your work!”

They all try to ignore the worried furrow between her brows.

+

Izuku sleeps. He sleeps, sleeps, just sleeps.

Still, unmoving, the machines around him humming, beeping, just keeping constant noise in jarring contrast how much he isn’t.   

At first it was kind of funny; in a silly, stupid way, but then, now, they notice how paper-thin and sickly white his skin has gotten, how his chest is barely moving. How raspy his breathing sounds.

Like crumpled paper.

Dead to the world, is a phrase that haunts their minds, uncomfortable and heavy.

Then it’s not funny at all.

He’s not waking up.

Recovery Girl’s mouth keeps tightening, her brow keeps pinching, and Inko Midoriya looks so tired by her son’s bedside, her face gray and wet, and suddenly, the class is ashamed of themselves for ever making fun of the situation.

     “Midoriya-san, we apologize for intruding - “

     “No, no, please, you are not intruding,” Inko replies, forces a faint smile and presses a handkerchief to the corners of her eyes.

It’s hard to look at, her worry, her grief.

Katsuki, who is reminded by Izuku’s tears, Izuku’s agony and despair, steps instinctively forward.

     “Auntie,” he grunts. It rasps in his throat. “...sorry.”

(Iida has a sixth sense for ‘Sensitive Conversations’ and with Yaoyozoru’s help, they very discreetly herd the rest of the class away from them - to pester Recovery Girl in her office just across the room.)

     “Why are you apologizing, Katsuki-kun?” Inko asks quietly, her smile wobbling.

Katsuki hesitates. What the fuck should he say? For everything? Because that’s what it boils down to. He didn’t have Izuku’s back in the fight. Katsuki didn’t keep a fucking eye on him, and Izuku got hurt.

But Inko doesn’t expect an answer - or maybe she’s already gotten it. Katsuki has always felt like she sees a lot, through him and into him. Much like Deku does.

Into his bare bones, into the blazing, raw storm that is Katsuki’s soul.

Inko shakes her head, and now, her smile looks warmer.

     “It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Please don’t blame yourself. Izuku is headstrong...ready to do his all to help.”

I know.

     “Yeah,” Katsuki grunts again. Beep-beep-beep. It seems to drown his own heartbeat, painful and short and stuttering. “I know.”

cause Deku is so goddamn reckless and -

Inko’s smile softens. She reaches out to pat Katsuki’s shoulder, and it’s a kind touch. “He’s going to be so happy to hear you came to see him, Katsuki-kun.”

Katsuki chokes. “He - wha - I’m not - “

But he can’t say any of that shit, not to her. He flushes hot with shame and guilt and struggles to get his voice right, and it’s breaking in his mouth. 

     “Did - “ Katsuki clears his throat gruffly, “ - they find out why he’s out of it?”

Inko wrings the handkerchief in her hands, and Katsuki is momentarily stunned just how familiar that gesture is. Deku does it. Katsuki has seen him do that same thing countless of times. When he’s nervous, when he’s anxious and unsure, when his nerves flare, when he’s embarrassed -  

Raw, brutal feeling lances through Katsuki’s chest.

Deku, goddamn it - !

     “Yes,” she murmurs and laughs, a little shakily. “Yes, they did. They - um, they found out that to break Mr. Grimm’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ attack, it requires a True Love’s Kiss or so to speak.”

Katsuki gapes.

The whole class, who is scattered half way between the room and the Recovery Girl’s office, gapes.

1...2...3...

     “WHAT?!”

+

It’s a mess afterwards.

     “HOW THE HELL DOES THAT WORK?”

     “WHAT IF HE’S DOESN’T FEEL THAT WAY?”

     “HE’S NOT EVEN CONSCIOUS!”

     “DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO KISS HIM WHILE HE’S OUT OF IT? THAT’S SO GROSS!”

+

True Love’s Kiss, what the fuck is this?

Katsuki’s head is reeling, dizzy with loud white noise. He’s definitely starting to develop a migraine.

     “Oi,” he says to Inko, his voice ragged, trying to make sense what the hell that explanation even means, “what the f - heck does that mean? It means romantic or some shit like that?” 

Inko doesn’t even blink at his coarse language. 

     “According to every test, interview and several input made by the professionals and taking account the experiences of his former victims, yes. The Quirk apparently wouldn’t work otherwise if Izuku didn’t harbour romantic feelings for anyone,” she explains. “And in this case, in the most basic way, it appears to mean the object of Izuku’s adamant affections.” Inko hesitates and asks carefully: “Would you happen to know who Izuku is in love with?”

Katsuki chokes on his inhale, and suddenly it’s hard to breathe. “Wha - hell no!”

Inko looks at him, and Katsuki is pretty sure she’s raising her eyebrows at him. She’s more subtle, more delicate about it than Deku has ever been, but Katsuki’s seen that expression plenty of times to know what it means.

Finally she sighs. “Oh, I was hoping you would know. How about you, Iida-kun? Do you have any idea? Has Izuku talked to you about his possible feelings for anyone?”

The rest of the conversation drowns in Katsuki’s ears, under the red, hot pounding in his temples, as he reluctantly imagines, with clenched teeth, of Izuku, in love, pining, sighing softly after this faceless person.

What the hell, Deku - in love? With whom? Someone in their class? Could be Uraraka or Ic -

Katsuki cuts that train of thought immediately. His nails dig into his palms.

What bullshit.

You better wake up on your own, you dumbass.

+

Izuku doesn’t.

+

Katsuki hates this.

He hates the quiet in the classroom, he hates the stillness in Izuku’s hospital room, he hates the void that is his presence everywhere, he hates the noise of the machines around him, the ECG’s lines, but Izuku is so goddamn quiet, when he should be mumbling Katsuki’s ear off and rambling and geeking out like a total nerd he is, filled with energy and fucking dopey grins -

He should be here.

+

It gets worse.

Rumours and speculations start instantly, and it grinds in Katsuki’s teeth like grains of sand, and he just wants to tell them all to shut the fuck up and mind their own damn business.

They all just keep running their mouths.

     “Would it even work if he wasn’t in love with someone?”

     “Nah, Recovery Girl said it wouldn’t. Reacts to explicitly already existing romantic feelings. Or that’s apparently their guess.

     “But how the hell does that work?”

     “Brain chemicals, I suppose?”

     “Seriously, Mr. Grimm is one crafty dick... how the hell can we know?”

     “Is it really up to us to find his... True Love? Wow, that’s so weird to say.”

     “Is that like a legit thing nowadays? Or just a really fancy name? Like, what makes it ‘the True Love’?”

     “Shit, we really going into specifics? How about the doctors?”

     “Okay, is it even up to them to hunt Midoriya’s True Love down? Is it? Like, is it in their vows or something? Man, that’s confusing.”

     “I vote Uraraka to kiss him!”

     “Eeeh?”

The noise forces everyone into complete silence.

Katsuki grips his pencil so hard it snaps in two in his fingers.

Poor Uraraka’s round cheeks turn bright scarlet. “W - w- what, no, that’s - he’s not in love with me!” she squeaks, mortified. “He’s not!”

Mina pokes her forehead gently. “How do you know?” she asks kindly, not with her usual mischief, and Uraraka panics.

     “B - because - w - well, because - none of your business!” she squeaks again, burying her face into her hands. She starts to float a little above her chair. “Oooh, stop it, all of you, stop looking at me!”

     “Okay, what if she is? What then? She’s just gonna kiss him?” Kaminari presses, looking genuinely worried about all of this.

     “Nooo-oooo,” Uraraka moans behind her hands. Mina and Tsuyu carefully fish her down from air and pat her back sympathetically.

     “It’s still super gross, though. He’s out of it.”

     “But he won’t wake up otherwise...”

     “And that makes it all okay?”

Katsuki’s palms start to crackle and burn. “Shut the hell up, you losers,” he snaps. “She said she ain’t.”

The class goes quiet, and they stare at him.

     “But,” Kirishima says tentatively, “we can’t really decide what he feels. His feelings are his feelings. If, you know, Midoriya is in love with her?”

     “She said he wasn’t, though,” Kaminari points out.

     “Yeah, but does he tell her everything?” Kirishima counters with infuriating rationality and calmness that just burns away the frayed edges of Katsuki’s nerves.

     “Midoriya is generally very open about things, that is true,” Iida says thoughtfully and rubs his chin. “But despite it, he didn’t feel like sharing his feelings with us, which, of course, was his right and we respected it.”

     “It’s not me he’s in love with,” Uraraka murmurs, bowing her head. “I - I know he’s not.”

     “You know he was fuckin’ fawning over you before?” Katsuki snaps, now getting irritated with this fucking trainwreck of a conversation. 

     “Wha - no, he - that was two years ago, he - “ Suddenly Uraraka trails off, moves her hands into her lap, and just looks...tired. She draws a deep breath and looks up at him, her brow furrowed, her gaze challenging. “I’m very sure he’s not, Bakugou.”

Katsuki narrows his eyes at her. “You fucking wanna bet on it?” he demands with a low, dark voice, the sound rumbling in the room. “Ever considered he just might not share everything with you? Lied to make you happy?”

     “It wouldn’t have made me happy, and it didn’t,” Uraraka says, now her lips tightening. “What, do you want me to kiss him?”

     “I want his ass to wake up!”

Silence.

No one dares to move.

Then, Katsuki lets out a string of colorful curses, but the Class 3-A doesn’t flinch at those anymore.

     “What, you extras have a better idea?” he grunts, hackles raised at the silence that seems to mock him.

Iida and Uraraka exchange a quick glance that feels like a whole conversation on it’s own, and it pisses Katsuki off.

     “Well, we could - “ Iida stops himself, shuts his mouth with a click and clears his throat uncomfortably.

     “What?”

     “Yeah, man, don’t leave us hanging,” Sero presses impatiently. “We gotta get him back, this is getting super annoying.”

     “I know that! But you do realize how inappropriate this is? Bringing potential candidates to his bed side to - to kiss him? Like that? Completely and utterly without his consent?” Iida presses furiously, barely moving his lips.

Kaminari grimaces and rubs the back of his neck. “Yeah, that - that sounds creepy, not gonna lie.”

     “See?”

     “But if we don’t do that, what’s the alternative? He doesn’t wake up?”

     “No one’s okay with it, c’mon, man, but what options do we have?”

Yaoyorozu steps in. “If I may, I think finding the ‘True Love’ is the most challenging issue here, besides the obvious, of course. We do not know who it is and even if we did, how can we even convince them to - “

She flushes pink and gestures forward with surprising awkwardness that probably means ‘kissing’. 

     “Yeah, they could literally be anyone, anywhere!” Jirou interrupts with a huff. “What if they’re somewhere, I don’t know, half way across the globe?

The Class goes quiet as they consider this new, troubling aspect, and despair starts to hang above them like a heavy storm cloud.

What if? What if they can’t find the ‘True Love’? What if Izuku will never wake up? What if Izuku will hate them for doing this, getting too close, digging in too deep into such personal feelings?

+

Somehow, they all end up back in Izuku’s hospital room.

Under gaudy lights, in the constant, buzzing noise, the scent of disinfectant and antibiotics.

Izuku is thin, unmoving. His skin has ill white pallor, it’s almost translucent like an onion peel, his veins visible, eerily reminding them of blue spider webs. Dark, exhausted circles around his sunken eyes haven’t faded at all. 

Hot, sour nausea twists Katsuki’s stomach. Deku isn’t supposed to look like that - he’s supposed to be up and grinning like a total dumbass, he’s supposed to be beaming, his stupid cheeks red with excitement, ‘cause that’s what the nerd does -

So -

Wake up, you asshole. When the hell have you ever needed saving? Katsuki thinks grinding his molars together. You worked so fucking hard to get there, so get up and save yourself - !

Don’t just -

Don’t just lie there like a loser -

Uraraka sits beside Izuku’s bed, twiddling with the hem of her skirt, self-conscious. “Hey, Deku-kun... you’ve been sleeping a lot, right? I - I hope your dreams are at least peaceful. It would be awful if all this sleeping had only nightmares, right?”

She laughs, and it sounds wet. “I’m sorry, that was awful. We’re trying, okay? We don’t know what to look for, b - but believe us, we’re trying our best to wake you up! No matter what!”

Her lower lip trembles. She hesitates and - reaches to grip his hand and just squeezes.

Katsuki looks away, through the window to the bleak courtyard. Concrete, ambulances, people in white.

(beep-beep-beep, the machines say around deku’s bed)

     “Mind if I try talkin’ next?” Kirishima asks as he gently helps Uraraka up from the chair and takes her place. “Yo, Midoriya... gotta say, we’re really worried about you, man. Everything feels...weird and super off when you’re not here. But we’re doing our best to help you!”

Kirishima falters. “I know you’re probably gonna be embarrassed when you wake up - and probably really angry, too, and that is our fault for sticking our noses into your personal business, but... we gotta help. We gotta do something. Anything. You’re our friend - and we care. So much, man. And we miss you. So sit tight and... sweet dreams,” he murmurs and combs his fingers gently through Izuku’s green curls.

A crushing weight presses into Katsuki’s ribs, painful, brutal.

Deku, just open your goddamn eyes, those stupid green -

His thoughts are a turmoil, just a piercing, vague mess buzzing in his skull.

     “Bakugou?” Uraraka asks carefully. “Do you want to say something to him?”

Katsuki freezes. A violent barrage of emotions tear up his spine. Stop. Stop.

     “Hell no.”

Doubt flashes in Uraraka’s brown eyes. “Are you sure? He would like to know you were here when he wakes up.”

     “Then I’ll fucking say it to his dumb face,” Katsuki snaps.

Uraraka watches him, her gaze hardening, and Katsuki bares his teeth at her.

     “You really have nothing to say to him?” she asks, stone-faced.

      “Quit it, Round Face.”

She stiffens like he’s slapped her, and the shadow between her brows deepens. “He would want to know, Bakugou,” she insists.

     “Then he should be fuckin’ awake to hear whatever I wanna say.

You should’ve seen it coming.

Why didn’t you dodge it.

You’re always pulling fucking shit like this.

Your luck’s gonna run out and I’m not gonna stand there and -

Just -  

(beep-beep-beep)

Rustling breathing, thin features.

Just wake the hell up already, nerd.

+

(beep-beep-beep - )

+

That’s when the Class 3-A decides to do this.

Operation ‘Find Midoriya’s True Love™’ is officially happening.

+