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Tenacious Blossoms

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There are multiple reasons as to why Todoroki Shouto appreciates his friendship with Midoriya. Not only did Midoriya open his eyes and showed him his potential, he was also the connection that led him to his one chance.

Shouto was proud to say with confidence that Midoriya is his best friend. The friend that was there for him on gloomier days and days that shone brightly too. So, when Shouto suggested to Midoriya that they move out together and room share, he had thought Midoriya would definitely think it to be a great idea. And that it would actually happen.

But it doesn’t. It didn’t happen.

“Sorry, Todoroki-kun”, Midoriya scratches the side of head sheepishly, “I’m actually moving out with my childhood friend”.

Shouto nods. Of course, even if Midoriya is Shouto’s best friend, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Shouto is Midoriya’s best friend. Shouto doesn’t know much about Midoriya’s childhood best friend. In fact, he doesn’t know anything except for the other’s existence. Midoriya doesn’t talk about his childhood best friend all that much in all honesty. Sometimes it makes Shouto and Iida wonder whether the person even exists. Or just how important they are to Midoriya for Midoriya to want to keep those thoughts all to himself when Midoriya is typically seen muttering about everything all at once. They decide easily that it was because Midoriya clearly just wanted to keep this mysterious childhood friend all to himself. He was rather protective over it, and it was never a topic Todoroki wished to breach if it wasn’t going to be a hindrance in their friendship. It was quite the image.

It doesn’t put a dent in their relationship, they’re still good friends. Midoriya goes off to study photography, Shouto heads off to mull over business and economics to eventually take over his father’s company. He picks up some minor subjects to further improve his understanding of the company, he thinks it isn’t pointless, but he honestly, isn’t all that interested. Who wants to study continuum mechanics anyway? It is terribly complicated and often turned his head into mush. Taking over the family business however, was something he had come to terms with. He will make the most of the opportunity he was born into.

When Iida messages him with a screenshot of Midoriya caught in the background of a live news program currently airing in Sapporo – Shouto is confused. It seems like neither Iida nor Shouto knew that Midoriya was in the other end of the country. Immediately, their group conversation was filled with utter confusion. Midoriya answers with he’s there for work.

It makes Iida and Shouto even more confused, because last they heard, Midoriya was still working from home, not out on the scene! Todoroki assumes a catch-up session is long overdue.

The long overdue catch-up session becomes even longer. It keeps getting pushed back and back. Midoriya keeps messaging saying he can’t find time. But he says he will keep trying filled with apologies. When a date is finally settled, Shouto stops wondering whether Midoriya even still wants to be friends. But things go as though they were still in high school together, nothing has changed between them, it puts Shouto at risk to know that even if Midoriya never told them that his job now required him to be all over Japan, he was still the same. It gave comfort to Shouto who felt like his world was always at a standstill, however everyone around him is constantly changing, evolving, leaving him standing under his father’s thumb, knowing his place in life.

“Deku!” A loud voice booms and kicks Shouto out of his own thoughts. And though Shouto did not know at that point in time, but this voice, would be a voice he would come to love listening to every day.

“Ka-Kacchan!” Midoriya stammers and stands up immediately just as Shouto turns to look at where that loud voice was coming from.

Shouto finds himself looking at a goddess. Golden shoulder length hair, straight before curling in at the shoulders and fiery crimson eyes that shone like jewels. She had a broad rim hat on her head, which Todoroki found strange for the time of night. She obviously looked angry and her arms were folded at her chest – Shouto looked away straight away. Somehow, it felt indecent to openly ogle someone’s chest. So… plump. Shouto shakes his head.

“You’re late”, the goddess hisses out at Midoriya.

Shouto frowns. It’s Midoriya’s acquaintance.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya states again he quickly checks his wrist watch, “I’m not, we said half past 9”.

The goddess – Kacchan – rolls her eyes, “you expect me to hang around the hair salon until half past 9, are you stupid? Check your phone”.

Midoriya immediately takes out his phone and checks, he sees something that changes his expression, it alerts him before he turns to look at Kacchan again, “Kacchan, I’m so sorry”, Midoriya grabs Kacchan’s arm and then pulls her to their table, “but you’re really making a scene”. Midoriya then grabs Kacchan’s hat and tugs it down a bit more.

Huffing, Kacchan sticks out her tongue at the other, turns to glare at Shouto before looking somewhere else.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya’s voice much quieter now, “you know you can’t cause a scene”.

“Whatever”, Kacchan grits out, “it’ll be taken care of anyway”.

Midoriya sighs. He then looks at Shouto, and smiles apologetically, “sorry, Todoroki-kun, an emergency has come up, I need to go now”.

Shouto nods, and when he catches Kacchan’s eyes for the second time that night, it holds for seconds longer that makes it feel like minutes. She eventually stands and stalks out, with Midoriya apologising and following behind him. Midoriya doesn’t message and explain the situation further. Shouto isn’t sure he needs a further explanation. After all, it’s not the first time he has seen a girlfriend act like that. Bossy and aggressive when things don’t meet her demands. Many of his father’s acquaintances have daughters who are the very description. He will wait for his friend to tell him plainly when he feels like so.

That night, Shouto thinks about the encounter. Kacchan, she was quite the beauty. He wonders how Midoriya met her. He wonders how intimidated Midoriya was under that attitude and scrutiny. He wonders why he’s thinking about his best friend’s girlfriend. It leaves a bad taste in his mouth. But he’d like to meet her again, Shouto thinks.

Shouto did not have to wait long. He is summoned for dinner by his father – Todoroki Enji, in a private room of a well-established traditional restaurant. The privacy irks Todoroki and he feels like he will never be prepared enough for the sinking feeling floating within him. He just hopes that it isn’t another arranged marriage meeting. He doesn’t want to get married for the sake of the company. That is not his priority in marriage.

He just knows his parents are already in there waiting for him when he is led to the private room. It was a sense he had picked up. When the door opens, he sees his parents and another set of parents with their most likely, daughter sitting between them.

Great. Another one.

Shouto bows politely before settling himself in his seat between his parents. He knows his answer will be rejection before it’s even on the table. He doesn’t even need to go home and consider. This isn’t how a marriage should form. He doesn’t like it.

“Urgh, so this is what this is all about”.

At the sound of a familiar voice, Shouto looks up and at the girl sitting directly opposite him. Her brows were furrowed, her lips were taut, but that doesn’t matter, because, this girl, he knows of her. “Kacchan”, slips from Todoroki’s lips before he can clearly think about why he should’ve just kept his lips glued.

“Don’t you dare call me that you shit”, Kacchan snarls and crosses her arms with a humph.

“Settle down”, Enji says with a sigh, “we’re here for business, not picking fights”.

Kacchan pouts but does as she’s told. Probably wanting to get this over with quickly.

Shouto is again, confused. Because why is Kacchan here for an arranged marriage when she’s already seeing Midoriya? Surely, because he won’t be able to do that to his best friend. Not that he approves of an arranged marriage in the first place.

“This came in earlier today”, the lady Shouto assumes is Kacchan’s mother slides a thick envelope across the table just as their appetizers were filed in. Kacchan seemed to have more interest in the food than the materials.

Shouto’s mother – Todoroki Rei takes the envelope, opens it and takes out the contents, curiously, Shouto looks over and a sigh escapes his lips. He recognises the magazine brand. The one who keeps tailing after him trying to get breaking new. A scoop that’ll make the masses scream. Fortunately for Shouto, his life is pretty boring. But the paparazzi still does not back off. Hoping for that one day. They of course would send him copies of articles they’d publish before it actually is published. There was none Shouto cared enough for to buy out, he didn’t mind too much that the media was discussing his daily activities, he had nothing to hide.

Before Shouto even looked at the title of the article or any other content, he knew that it would be about Kacchan. Simply because she was in the room with him. Which means he is also in the article? That part confuses him. He’s never interacted with her after all.

It turns out they don’t even need to interact with each other for an article to be written up of their date night. Shouto raises his eyebrows. Kacchan is with Midoriya after all. He sighs again. He can’t go around roping in a poor civilian into this exposure.

“When did you start dating, Shouto?” Endeavour is amused as he asks, giving his son a smirk. Shouto rolls his eyes and wants to ignore his father.

But he doesn’t. “We’re not dating”.

“You’re not?” The man who appears to be Kacchan’s father asks.

Kacchan rolls her eyes, “I don’t even know him”.

“I don’t know know her either”, Shouto frowns as he looks at the photo attached to the article, “this is from… when I met up with Midoriya for dinner…”

“Deku that shit”, Kacchan grumbles and humphs, “causing trouble wherever he goes”.

If Shouto’s memory serves him right – and it certainly does, Kacchan is the trouble that came looking for Midoriya. He doesn’t know why Kacchan calls Midoriya Deku, but he rolls with it.

“Well, if this article is released, it won’t do my image any good”, Kacchan says with sarcasm and snarls whilst she taps the article angrily, “can’t have the world thinking I’m dating some half-ass piece of shit”.

“Image?” Shouto raises an eyebrow, confusion all over his face. And why the sarcasm?

“You don’t know, Shouto?”, Todoroki Rei asks, her face surprised, “Bakugou-san is a famous kadouka”

Shouto did now know at all. He knows close to nothing about Kacchan – about Bakugou-san. But he doesn’t comment on that as he lets the information sink in, instead he comments on Bakugou-san’s earlier comment, “I’m not a half-ass piece of shit”.

Bakugou-san snorts – Shouto wonders if she really is a kadouka, she definitely does not act refined or even elegant at this point in time. She does, however, look beautiful even when her behaviour appears to be undesirable.

“You come in late”, Bakugou-san waves a hand around, “your hair is messy, your shirt is untucked, your tie is lop-sided, your nails are chipped-”

“I get it”, Shouto interrupts and frowns. At least she has a good eye. Quick to judge, however. “I ran over time at work, I apologise for my tardiness”.

“Whatever”, Bakugou-san dismisses.

“I’m Todoroki Shouto”, Shouto sticks his hand out and introduces himself to the people on the opposite end of the table, “pleased to make your acquaintance”.

“Bakugou Masaru, my wife, Mitsuki and our daughter, Katsuki”, Bakugou Katsuki’s father smiles and introduces himself before shaking Shouto’s hand.  Shouto makes a mental note to return home and search online for Bakugou Katsuki.

“Deku didn’t say anything about me, huh?” Bakugou says as she plays with some strands of her hair.

“No?” Shouto wonders if that is a strange thing at all. He kind of likes the image

“He usually can’t keep his bloody mouth shut”, Katsuki sighs, “well then, now that we have realised that there is nothing else left to discuss, this meeting is over”, she stands up only to be tugged back down by her mother who gives her a creepy smile.

“Katsuki, sit down”, Mitsuki keeps a firm grip on her daughter’s arm, “at least finish dinner”.

“More like start”, Enji mutters quietly to himself.

Small chatter is made between the parents as they all start on their appetizers. Shouto learns that the Bakugou family is also a family owned business, much like his own, except they specialise in traditional clothing. It seems that everything Katsuki the kadouka wears is hand-made by her parents. Shouto also learns that Katsuki is Midoriya’s infamous childhood friend. And that Midoriya is Katsuki’s personal photographer. He takes photos of all of her works, all the photos of her. He travels with her around the country to different conferences, different museums and takes all the photos for her. He also acts as her chauffeur and manager. It all sounded quite, incredible.

Things click, and Shouto realises that that was how Iida had found Midoriya in Sapporo on TV by chance. He was there for one of Katsuki’s events. He wasn’t a journalist or working for a specific TV station.

Katsuki started on the appetizers earlier but takes longer than everyone else to finish. Shouto notes straight away now that he is looking that Katsuki definitely has an air of poise surrounding her when she eats. When she isn’t glaring daggers and frowning.

“What are you looking at, you half-ass”, Katsuki catches his eyes and sneers before she lets a joke slip, “haven’t you seen someone as beautiful as me before?”

“Katsuki!” Masaru hisses in reprimand, but the smile on his face betrays his utter pride in his daughter.

“As a matter of fact, I haven’t”, Shouto replies calmly. As soon as that answer escapes him, he feels a stab in his heart, he shouldn’t be saying something like that to his best friend’s girlfriend.

Katsuki almost chokes on her plate of appetizers. She turns red immediately in embarrassment.

Shouto can feel himself also turn red from embarrassment, and it wasn’t second-hand embarrassment.

“Are you two really not dating?” Mitsuki asks, a coy smile on her lips.

“Do you really want us to date that much, you old hag!?” Katsuki fumes and tries to cover her embarrassment with anger once the chance presented itself.

Mitsuki chuckles, “you’re blushing a lot, Katsuki”.

Katsuki rudely points a finger at Shouto, who sits there with wide eyes, wondering how to best react to the current situation, but Katsuki is still looking at her mother, and not at him.

“You try with this guy’s freaking handsome face say-saying th-that-!” Katsuki stammers and stumbles over her words.

Shouto immediately goes to shield the scar marring his face. He has a complex.

Mitsuki laughs, “my heart won’t waver with something like that, I have Ma-kun after all”.

“Ma-kun”, Katsuki now wears an expressionless face.

“Ma-kun”, Mitsuki nods, “otou-san, papa”, she confirms.

“That’s true”, Rei adds, “Bakugou-san does have a very beautiful face”.

Mitsuki shakes her head, “don’t feed her ego anymore, but thank you”.

“Why are you thanking her?” Katsuki butts in, “Todoroki-san is complimenting my face”.

“And who do you think you got your genes from, you ungrateful brat?” Mitsuki smiles and gently pinches her daughter’s cheeks.

Luckily, main was served and the awkward conversation was temporarily put to an end, to Shouto’s joy. He wouldn’t even know how to resolve that kind of conversation. He would like to think that he wasn’t the one who started it either. Shouto doesn’t stop himself from openly staring at Katsuki. When Katsuki does catch him, she just clicks her tongue before continuing on with her food. The light chatter continues and the topic doesn’t breach physical appearances anymore.

Shouto answers and has input where appropriate. He tries to keep his answers succinct and simple. He leaves most of the talking to his parents who seem more than happy to entertain the Bakugou family. By the end of main, Katsuki had already agreed to help decorate their main office, with her ikebana skills. Shouto smiled at how excited her mother became at the promise. Shouto notes that Katsuki immediately types into her phone mumbling about how she needs to let Deku know. It reinforces Shouto’s knowledge that Midoriya really is acting as Katsuki’s manager as well.

When dessert was served, the crux of the meeting was brought up again.

“We can either buy out the article, or we can officially announce that our children are not seeing each other”, Enji taps his fingers on the table uncharacteristically.

Masaru nods in agreement.

“Would it not be better to buy out the article, Midoriya would be sad if he saw it published”, Shouto chips in, he doesn’t want his best friend to be upset about something like that. He knows that Midoriya was present at that point in time and that he understood the situation better than anyone else, but, Shouto imagines that he would be hurt if he saw articles of his girlfriend supposedly out on a date with someone else even if he knew it to not be true.

“Why the shit would Deku be sad?” Katsuki frowns and crosses her arm, “he’d be all stupid high-and-mighty, gloating more like, telling me I told you to keep a low profile, that nerd.”

“Izuku-kun wouldn’t do that”, Mitsuki shakes her head, “he’s not you”.

“Well”, Shouto elaborates, “if my girlfriend was snapped by paparazzi on a dinner date with someone else, I’d be sad, even if I knew it to not be the case”.

“Yeah, so would I”, Katsuki shoots back, “but this has nothing to do with Deku”.

Shouto blinks a few times and then he starts to fathom just what Katsuki was insinuating. “Midoriya isn’t your boyfriend”, Shouto states. It’s not a question.

“Hell no”, Katsuki tilts her head back and laugh.

“We thought you were her boyfriend”, Masaru looks at Shouto with a smile, “when we received this article”.

The realisation that Midoriya isn’t dating this beauty before him settles very well in his stomach. Because, does this mean Shouto actually has a chance now? Shouto feels a hand on his shoulder, he looks over and sees his father giving him a knowing smile. Shouto huffs silently. It’s just a physical attraction at the moment, there is nothing to be knowing about. But he’s pretty sure he’s somewhat in love at first sight despite knowing so.

In the end, they end up deciding to buy the article. Katsuki was definitely not keen at all to have her image tarnished with such a gross article. Shouto had thought that it doesn’t matter either way, because it’s not true. But when he looks at Katsuki and sees her twirling her blond locks, he thinks, he really wouldn’t mind at all. He understands that Katsuki doesn’t want shit attached to her for work purposes. Shouto did however feel slightly offended when Katsuki declared that in comparison if she the media was declaring that she was dating Deku, she wouldn’t give any shits about it at all. The thought made her laugh, saying that even the media knows that her relationship with Deku is platonic, she holds Shouto’s eyes and smiles wryly, “stupid”.

When Midoriya comes to pick Katsuki up and take her home – their home – Shouto is reminded that even though they’re not dating, they’re close enough to live together. The knowledge churns around in his stomach waywardly. Siblings. Shouto tells himself as he sends his parents home before going home himself. They’re like siblings, nothing else. He would gladly share his home with Fuyumi if she so desired too. The thought calms him down, Shouto hadn’t even realised he was gripping his wheel albeit too tightly.

Shouto receives a message from Midoriya when he is home.

Midoriya Izuku
You met Kacchan, she’s amazing, isn’t she?

He looks at the message and then realises why he’s Deku to Katsuki. It makes sense that they’ve known each for so long, from the time when Katsuki had difficulty reading kanji. Shouto feels a sense of grumbling envy, it’s unwanted, he should not be feeling like this. It isn’t right. And even less so for someone who is almost a stranger.

Todoroki Shouto
She is.

Shouto isn’t sure how else to reply. He isn’t even sure what it really is that he knows he feels for Katsuki. And they’ve only met twice. When Shouto plugs Bakugou Katsuki into the search engine, he is immediately hit with thousands of photos. Katsuki in traditional dress, the kimono making her look the very face of a desirable Japanese woman. Shouto knows that such a stigma is old, but he can’t help himself from thinking, she does meet all the stereotypes in these endless photos he’s scrolling through. He checks her Wikipedia page and finds a list of all the well-known events she has participated in all over Japan. The competitions that she’s won. From the conferences she has appeared in as a guest speaker to the kimono she wears for different events, it was all covered in a somewhat overly surplus amount of detail. It was quite the detailed report. Shouto also learns that Katsuki has started kadou since she was a child. He also learns that her favourite type of food is spicy. There was also a section on Midoriya Izuku; described as Katsuki’s personal photographer for her art.

The amount of fame and resources for Bakugou Katsuki was more impressive than Shouto had originally thought. It made him feel nervous. And it made him feel like that that was why she did not want to be hung up in fake news with someone who might as well be a nobody. With him. Scrolling through, Shouto quickly learns that there isn’t any negative article on Katsuki. No scandals, only reports on her work and how she is comparable to many other kadouka who came from generations of kadouka.

One thing that was missing and remained a mystery even on the Wikipedia article, was the fact that no one knew which school Katsuki learnt from. When asked in interviews, she would dodge the question. That, to Shouto who hasn’t even been researching for more than 2 hours, was something that popped out quite a bit. It made him curious. He also wanted to know her birthday, but all that was listed was her birth year. Seems like she was secretive about that too.

Before Shouto knew it, he was watching clips of Katsuki in variety shows. She certainly was a celebrity. He can see how it came to be, to have such skills paired with such a beautiful face, it was not surprising that she would rise to fame. Shouto felt like he was living under a rock for not recognising her. True enough, he has little interest in the celebrity world, though perhaps at this point in time, it is fair to suggest that he is culturally uneducated.

If Shouto had a childhood friend who was like Katsuki, he wouldn’t want to talk too much about her either. Surely, enough people talk about her already, no need to add another one. Though Shouto believes perhaps the arrogance Katsuki wears would, under a normal circumstance be enough to deter him from associating. Though at the moment, he can’t help but see it as a gold medal, something Katsuki wears as a product from all of her achievements.

After his second encounter with Bakugou Katsuki, Shouto finds himself on the look out for her in magazines, he tunes into the radio when he knows she’s on, to TV shows that she appears as a guest. He even went and bought himself a copy of all her photobooks, detailing with precise photography her art over the years. Shouto isn’t skilled enough to tell that the photos were taken by Midoriya, but he knows they were. He isn’t skilled enough to know all the details back to front for each piece Katsuki designs, but he relishes in the beauty and tries to figure out the warmth they radiate, or lack thereof. Or the sheer intense feeling of being awed that a human can create something so stunning, it shakes Shouto to the core even with his little understanding of the art. He does wonder how much praise more cultured people will provide upon feasting their eyes on Katsuki’s flowers.

Todoroki Shouto was wrong to think he was only captured by Bakugou Katsuki’s physical appearance.

As Shouto flips through multiple interviews Katsuki has given over the years, he gets a better understanding of what Katsuki is feeling with each stalk she trims, with each petal she glosses over, with each leaf she presses her fingers against. It seems, according to interviews, it isn’t much, she doesn’t sound very refined. There are no godly words in her answers. They’re simply “whatever I feel at that point in time”.

He wonders if that is an answer an artisan should give to satisfy the crowd. He believes it isn’t. Because it isn’t a satisfying answer for him, it doesn’t tell him more about Katsuki except that she doesn’t want to say too much about herself. But he wants to know more.

It was only after a week in which Shouto realised that Midoriya hadn’t just suddenly decided to become more talkative about Kacchan. He was weaving information into conversation with Todoroki because he knows that Todoroki is now a fan. He tells Todoroki what Katsuki is up for the day, so that he can switch the radio on to listen to her growl at stupid questions. So that he can pen in onto his calendar dates for specific variety shows that she will guest in. It was somewhat smart of Midoriya to do so, but it also made Todoroki feel like he was being strung along. It was a strange realisation for him to understand that he isn’t the only one to have discovered his new-found fascination with Bakugou Katsuki. Fair enough, Midoriya is his best friend, but, still.

To think he was that obvious. To think Midoriya found out all from the little he saw of the 2 encounters they had and that one line of text over LINE. It makes Shouto wonder again whether Midoriya and Katsuki really aren’t dating.

The next time Shouto sees Katsuki is when, of course, he meets up with Midoriya next. And he understands straight away why Midoriya had suddenly changed their meeting location to a very public space to a rather private meeting room at a fancy restaurant. He can hear Iida sigh in the background, complaining about work because he couldn’t make it to this gathering. Shouto is pleasantly surprised to see that Katsuki had tagged along. It was more like Midoriya sheepishly smiling and following from behind.

“Sorry, Todoroki-kun, I hope you don’t mind”, Midoriya apologises as he slides into his seat – next to Katsuki – in their private room, “Kacchan said that it’s fine, since you’ve met before”.

“I don’t mind at all”, Shouto says with a nod. He wished he had worn something a little more decent. Something to impress with. “Nice to see you again, Katsuki”.

Midoriya’s eyes go wide and he whips his head around straight away to look at Shouto.

“Whatever”, Katsuki flips her hair and then folds her arms on the table, “more importantly, stop making plans with Deku, he’s supposed to be chauffeuring me around tonight”.

“What”, Todoroki blurts out for the lack of a better reaction.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya pleads, his expression more normal again as he mumbles to himself, “I told you a month ago that I was going to be busy tonight, so really it’s your fault for suddenly deciding to make plans on top of my plans”.

“I didn’t know you were meeting up with this half-ass”, Katsuki grunts, her hair swaying gently with her movements, “otherwise I would have made even more plans”.

“Kacchan!” Midoriya sighs exasperatedly, he turns to look at Shouto and gives him an apologetic smile.

“So”, Shouto quietly taps his fingers against the desk, “you cancelled your plans so that you could join Midoriya in meeting me, tonight?”

Katsuki glares.

Midoriya whimpers.

Shouto doesn’t miss the tinge of red that dusts Katsuki’s cheeks.

Perhaps this fascination wasn’t as one-sided as he had felt inclined to believe.

Shouto pockets that information and holds it close. He doesn’t think back too much on it because he doesn’t want it to sway his behaviour. This gathering is for him to catch up with Midoriya, not for him to hit on his current, you could say, love interest. Catching up with Midoriya never makes Shouto tired. They talk animatedly and Shouto doesn’t mind Katsuki’s more demure behaviour as she listens in and scoffs here and there, keeping herself busy with the yakiniku – in which Midoriya multi-tasks and flips the meat appropriately for her.

Just whimsically, Shouto wonders if he could cook meat for Katsuki one day. He’d like to see her joyfully eat the meat he cooks for her. He’d like to see Katsuki dip a piece of meat he has cooked for her specifically into that spicy concoction she has made for herself. It might be slightly perverted, but, the slight plumped well kissed lips from the heat of the chilly, makes Shouto think that spicy might be his favourite flavour from here on out. He also appreciates the Katsuki who dips her meat in salt and her tongue that escapes quickly to make sure that not even one grain of salt is left to waste.

That night, Shouto admits that he is a pervert quietly to himself.

As the clock ticks and they finish their dessert, Katsuki for the first time that night, directs a question at Shouto of her own accord, “it’s late, don’t you have work tomorrow?”

Shouto is taken by surprise at the question and nods, his eyes stare straight at Katsuki and doesn’t move, “yes, but”, Shouto looks at the clock, “it isn’t too late”. If he can, he would like to spend a little more time with Katsuki. It seems like to meet her, he has to leave it up to chance.

Katsuki raises an eyebrow, “whatever”.

“Are you tired, Kacchan?” Midoriya asks with concern, he places a hand gently on Katsuki’s shoulders, in which she quickly shrugs off.

“No, so piss off”, Katsuki groans, her palm digs into one of her cheeks as she pokes at her glass of nearly empty grapefruit juice, “it’s not like I have an early start tomorrow”, she glances up at Shouto before looking away just as quickly.

Shouto catches the glance and feels a flutter of butterflies in his stomach.

“Kacchan, you’ll get eyebags if you sleep too late”, Midoriya shakes his head, “you don’t want a late night to ruin your complexion, right?”

Katsuki rolls her eyes, “I’d still look better than the half-ass”, she clicks her tongue.

“That’s not the point, and you know it”, Midoriya continues to nag.

“Get off my back already”, Katsuki frowns, “go and catch up with your freaking high school friend”. She waves a hand and tries to dismiss Midoriya.

Shouto gets the hint. So, he suggests, “it is late, it probably is best we call it a night”.

Midoriya looks at him and gives him a thankful smile.

Katsuki pouts, her arms now crossed at her chest. But she chugs the rest of her grapefruit juice and stands up. She glares at Shouto. But it only appears to be cute to Shouto, what, with the pout. He thinks, he’d really like to see Katsuki more. But more than that, he’d like to talk with her more, he wants to get to know her. With the resolve, Shouto stands up and stares right at Katsuki until she tilts her head up slightly to look at him, answering his stare with her own stare.

“Can I have your LINE?” Shouto asks, face serious and eyes boring into Katsuki’s own.

“Go ask bloody Deku”, Katsuki flips him off and then stalks out, Midoriya hurriedly running after her.

Shouto couldn’t even get another word in.

Midoriya doesn’t give Shouto Katsuki’s LINE details. Or her phone number. Or any other form of contact. Shouto asks, and Midoriya still says no with a, “I’m sorry, Todoroki-kun, but it really isn’t in my place to pass Kacchan’s information to you”. Yet he is fine with announcing it in his jumble of messages what Katsuki has planned for the day, another radio show, another display of her talent and skills. Despite Midoriya being his best friend, he supposes the connection doesn’t include such benefits.

Fair enough, is what Shouto thinks. Though Katsuki did imply that Midoriya will give him the details. Perhaps this was Katsuki’s way of saying no. Shouto frowns at that, because even though he hasn’t known Katsuki for very long, he can tell that she is blunt and would straight out reject him if that was her intention. Which leaves Shouto feeling more muddled.

It takes Shouto another month before he tells Midoriya over the phone that he kind of likes his childhood friend quite a bit.

“I think I really, really like Katsuki”, Shouto speaks into the phone

It’s quiet on the other end of the line, but Shouto is patient and he waits for Midoriya to speak, “is that so?”

“Yeah”, Shouto’s voice is quiet but confident, “you knew ages ago, though, right?”

“Yeah”, Midoriya answers similarly, this time without hesitance.

“Do you…”, Shouto swallows thickly, “think that we might suit each other?” After all, Midoriya knows them both, and have known them both for a decent period of time at the minimum.

“Sorry, Todoroki-kun”, Midoriya’s voice does not waver, “I’m not the right person to ask”.

Shouto frowns. If Midoriya isn’t the right person to ask, then who? Shouto ponders over this for the rest of the night, even after he’s hung up. He goes to bed wondering. He wakes up wondering. He eats his bread in the morning wondering, and he goes to uni wondering. Backpack slung across his shoulders, he goes to his classes with thoughts of Katsuki in his head. Even as he jots down notes at the lecture, even as he eats his soba during lunch, even as he rejects another love confession, Shouto can definitely feel his thoughts of Katsuki lingering in his mind. Because he wants to think about whether they’re suitable for each other or not. He’s going about this seriously. He’s had time to think about it, but never enough. He’s done his research, but he feels like there’s always more and more to learn.

And Midoriya who is so close to Katsuki but doesn’t intervene only makes Shouto’s skin tingle. Perhaps Midoriya was trying to tell him that no, you’re not suitable for Kacchan. Katsuki who shines like a jewel, brighter and more desirable than anything Shouto had ever wanted in his life so far. It was a strange feeling.

Maybe it’s the idea of Katsuki that he likes.

After all, he still doesn’t know much about Bakugou Katsuki despite knowing a heap about Katsuki the kadouka. It took a lot of research, and it diverted his attention from uni work for a good amount of time, but he felt like it was worth it. And he was catching up with uni work regardless.

Shouto shakes his head and hopes the frustrations and confusing thoughts all fly out with his head shake. He drops by the convenience store and buys dinner there before heading back to his apartment.

What he didn’t expect was for Katsuki to be standing at his door, arms and legs crossed. Midoriya standing beside her, mumbling to himself, again.

“What?” Shouto is surprised.

Katsuki looks up with a glare, “you’re so freaking slow”, she complains.

Shouto catches Midoriya subtly pointing to his phone and that’s when he realises he has been so caught up thinking about Katsuki that he hadn’t checked his phone at all all day. He gulps and reaches for his phone to see what information he has missed out on. But he doesn’t get the chance because Katsuki stalks up towards him and that’s all Shouto can see, all he can feel and concentrate on. Shouto breathes normally again when Katsuki jabs her well-manicured finger against his chest.

“Okonomiyaki”, Katsuki states.

“Okonomiyaki”, Shouto repeats.

“Okonomiyaki”, Katsuki repeats with a sigh, “we’re going”, she nods and swipes Shouto’s convenience store bag and hanging it on the door knob of his apartment door. Katsuki then turns around and walks away with her heels tapping loudly against the floor of the corridor.

Shouto blinks a few times and looks from Katsuki’s retreating back to his doorknob with his intended dinner hanging from it. Only when Midoriya hurriedly goes after Katsuki does Shouto then do the same, though Shouto was still utterly cluttered in confusion. Can he consider this as Katsuki asking for a meal? Because he is sure that Midoriya did not ask him for a meal. His friends know that there are no meal outings without confirmation. He doesn’t know what was sent to him on his phone, but he is sure that it would be something he can’t even begin to imagine. It must be something he has never received in his life before. Because this is the first time someone has spontaneously disrupted his dinner plans for their dinner plans.

It was easy for Shouto to decide that he likes a girl who can eat pork-belly okonomiyaki cheerfully without uttering a single word about weight gain. Too many times has he heard those words from his father’s acquaintances. As Shouto watch Katsuki pulverize the okonomiyaki, he finds himself really enjoying his own food too. She eats it with such joy and such appreciation in her expression, it was uplifting.

Shouto eats his favourite Hiroshima style yakisoba-okonomiyaki and is even in a good enough mood to separate portions so that Midoriya and Katsuki can have a bite too. Usually he prefers to savour his own, since he knows that there isn’t a better flavour.

“You really only eat soba”, Katsuki smirks as she takes the offered portion of Shouto’s okonomiyaki. Shouto tries not to stare at the blond curls that flutter around her cheeks as she leans forward. Or her chest that is obviously there. Or those plump red lips lathered in oil as she munches on the okonomiyaki.

“There’s nothing better”, Shouto replies knowingly.

Katsuki rolls her eyes and snickers with Midoriya. She then cuts a portion out of her own okonomiyaki, scoops it and places it on Shouto’s plate, “wait till you try this”.

Shouto frowns. He’s tried pork-belly okonomiyaki before. It wasn’t anything special. Just oily and fatty and something a petite girl like Katsuki shouldn’t really eat with such a happy expression. Though after watching Katsuki eat, he really thinks it does suit her regardless of all the stereotypes. With hesitance, Shouto picks up the pork-belly okonomiyaki slice and pops it in his mouth. It tastes exactly as he remembers it. Until he made eye contact with Katsuki’s wide anticipating eyes. It suddenly made it taste much better than his memories.

Though, soba is still better.

Shouto remembers that Katsuki’s favourite flavour is spicy. But he can tell from her choice in menu order that it isn’t a flavour she constantly seeks meal after meal. He knows that this is the normal. But perhaps he just is overly addicted to soba in general. He knows that no one usually goes around only eating their favourite food, but when he can, Shouto really tries to. Because why not?

“It’s good, isn’t it, half-ass?” Katsuki’s arrogant smile makes Shouto’s heart race.

“Kacchan, Todoroki-kun doesn’t really eat anything but Soba, you shouldn’t force it on him”, Midoriya chides.

“He’s going to stay a half-ass forever then”, Katsuki snaps.

“It’s good, but soba is better”, Shouto is honest.

Katsuki sighs and shakes her head. Shouto once again follows the motions and the hair that swings with her head, the flutter really catching his attention. Shouto knows he’s staring a lot. But he really can’t help himself. Not when the object of his affections is sitting before him, and so, breathtakingly beautiful.

Her face, so cheeky especially is something Shouto finds he fancies. These small gestures and movements makes Shouto more and more attracted to Katsuki. He can feel his attraction grow with each second. It was at a scaringly alarming rate. But it made Shouto feel good, he doesn’t ever want this feeling to stop.

It isn’t until they part ways, in which Shouto then brings out his phone to check what he has missed.

Midoriya Izuku
Todoroki-kun, sorry, but are you at uni right now?

There’s a time lapse until the next message.

Midoriya Izuku
Todoroki-kun, is Kacchan with you?

There’s another time lapse until the next message.

Midoriya Izuku
Todoroki-kun, Kacchan and I will be coming over to yours later.
I’m so sorry.
I hope we don’t disturb your dinner plans?
Forgive us for our rudeness.
And sorry for the intrusion.
I’m sorry, Todoroki-kun, I did try to tell Kacchan.
Please forgive us for this.
I’m so sorry.
You must be busy tonight.
I’m really sorry.

Shouto scoffs. The messages were very Midoriya-like. What really caught Shouto’s attention was that for some reason, Midoriya had thought Katsuki was with him? And the suggestion that Katsuki was the one who potentially demanded to hunt him down. Yet in the end the dinner went peacefully, Katsuki didn’t mention anything urgent. He wonders why Katsuki was looking for him, and if she met her objective with the dinner tonight.

Regardless, Shouto had enjoyed his time.

Todoroki Shouto
All good.
I enjoyed myself
It also helped confirm my attraction towards Katsuki.

Shouto wonders if he should be worried that Midoriya had read his message but did not reply. He sees his shopping from the convenience store still hanging on his door knob. Shouto scrunches his nose and remembers the much nicer dinner he had instead. Taking his shopping in, Shouto places it inside the refrigerator. Perhaps he’ll have it for breakfast.

And it’s breakfast he does have it for indeed. It heats up nicely in the microwave and sits in his belly with satisfaction. He tunes into a radio show in which Katsuki is guesting in and listens to the nice tone in her voice, it’s unfortunate she doesn’t speak much, but every word that she says, Shouto listens carefully and savours it whilst he can. Later, he will download the guesting so he can listen to it again tonight.

When midday comes, Shouto packs his bags, he leaves his apartment, buys a yakisoba pan down the road and gobbling it up before making his way to uni. It was going to be a long day. He doesn’t finish till late at night. Late afternoon classes aren’t his favourite, but if they’re the only slots available, well, then, he seemingly has no other choice.

Shouto knows that he needs to work hard and further himself. He wants to make himself proud, He wants to have more to give. He wants to be someone that Katsuki can come to like.

There is guilt that sinks within him every time Shouto imagines Katsuki’s face as he pleasures himself, he knows it is gross, but, it really gets him off and makes his body tingle with good feelings.

Their schedule does end up matching and Shouto finds himself celebrating his birthday a few days earlier than the actual date with his closest friends – Midoriya and Iida. Judging by what happened the last time he caught up with Midoriya, Shouto should’ve at least had an inkling feeling that Katsuki would also crash this meeting.

Watching Midoriya introduce his childhood friend to Iida was amusing. He could see the cogwheels spin and click as Iida realised just who this girl before them really is. Despite the little information they’ve heard about Midoriya’s childhood friend whilst they were still in school, it was enough for them to realise just how precious she is held in Midoriya’s thoughts.

It only seemed appropriate that he was at her beck and call.

Shouto will admit that he is slightly miffed that Iida recognised Bakugou Katsuki straight away as the kadouka growing in popularity. It only made Shouto feel less and less cultured. But at least, right now, he is cultured in Bakugou Katsuki the kadouka. Though, perhaps not as knowledgeable as Midoriya, though Shouto does wonder if it’s possible for anyone to know more than about Katsuki than Midoriya himself.

Iida did not question why Shouto is on first name basis with Katsuki, but he did send Shouto one raised eyebrow for a good second. Shouto indicated that he will message him later. The celebration of Shouto’s birthday, was of course, hailing soba as the main meal. They had gyoza for appetisers. And again, Shouto knew it was wrong for him to watch Katsuki’s lips gloss over shinily from the oil. But he does so anyway.

Midoriya catches him, clearly, when he sends Shouto a smile and a kick under the table to his shin. Immediately Shouto hangs his head in shame until Katsuki picks up on it and almost mockingly pops a single gyoza onto his plate, “gyoza for the birthday boy”.

Shouto huffs but eats the gyoza with his heart racing. Katsuki is always so beautiful. The real person is no match for the Katsuki he sees on TV, no match for the Katsuki painted on magazines. She was stunning in animation. Even though they’re sitting opposite each other, with an appropriate distance between them, he could feel her warmth.

It was a normal celebration in Shouto’s eyes, filled with food and laughter. And the subject of his affections physically being there put him in an even better mood. Even if this love of his does not bear any fruit, the motions he’s going through now, the feelings he’s carrying with him now, he will indulge in it.

Dinner ends with the cutting of a small birthday cake, plenty for only 4 people. A small song is sung within their private room, small cheers were made and the candle was blown out, and with only those few points, Shouto felt like the king of the world.

As things wrap up and they prepare to leave, Shouto wonders whether Katsuki is wearing enough, a round neck knit accompanied with a thin jacket, a short skirt and stockings, surely the other will be freezing in the wintery night. The wind picks up and Shouto watches as Katsuki’s hair flutters with the wind under the night lights. It was picturesque.

Just as Shouto shrugs his jacket off to offer for Katsuki, Midoriya has already wrapped his own jacket around Katsuki’s shoulders, “Kacchan, I told you it would be cold”.

“Shut up, Deku”, Katsuki pouts but clings onto the jacket. She glances at Shouto with a frown before looking away quickly.

Shouto would like to think that Katsuki was looking at his jacket thinking that it would’ve been nice if she had Shouto’s jacket around her shoulders instead. But that, of course, is only wishful thinking on Shouto’s part. He has to remind himself that Midoriya and Katsuki are only childhood friends.

Midoriya and Katsuki hop into a cab just as Iida and Shouto make their way to the closest train station.

“Bakugou-san is different to what she appears to be in the media, isn’t she?” Iida makes small talk

Shouto nods and then suggests, “livelier?”

“Yes”, Iida agrees, “that’s exactly it.”

When Iida learns of Shouto’s crush on Katsuki, he smiles and adjusts his glasses knowingly. He listens well to Shouto’s story and makes comments along the way, laughing at Shouto’s predicament and somewhat lack of development in the relationship. Iida is even more stunned when he learns that Shouto doesn’t have any means of contacting Katsuki except for going through Midoriya. Which he seemingly has never done – that fact makes Iida shake his head and pat his shoulder with the intention to comfort.

Shouto ends up sleeping with giddy feelings that night, it felt like his birthday already.

On the actual day of Shouto’s birthday, he wakes up to a barrage of congratulatory messages from his family. Shouto spends a good amount of the day cleaning his apartment before heading out to the local cat café and spending time with his favourite cats. He lets them ignore him and lets them snuggle up to him. He runs his fingers against their back gently and relishes in the content purrs that escape.

Shouto buys his favourite takeaway cold soba to eat on a cold wintery night and heads home with the anticipation to demolish his dinner. He picks up a magazine he knows Katsuki is featured in as well as a packet of roasted peanuts. He supposes it won’t hurt to snack a little after dinner and flipping through Katsuki’s latest interview. A sense of déjà vu hits him when he sees Midoriya and Katsuki standing outside his apartment, again.

“You never check your phone, do you?” Katsuki crosses her arms across her chest and has an annoyed expression on her face.

It was also then that Shouto noticed what Katsuki was wearing. She was dressed in a beautiful white and pink kimono, it further highlighted her beauty. Her hair which Shouto usually sees hanging at her shoulders is pulled back and neatly assembled into a bun with simple matching accessories. It was as though she had just finished work. The light lipstick that painted Katsuki’s lips made her frown less threatening.

“My-my bad”, Shouto apologises, “did you just finish work?”

“Huh!?” Katsuki takes a step forward and then places her arms at her hips intimidatingly, it suddenly made the clothes she was wearing seem out of place.

“N-no?” Shouto tilts his head as he tries to think about what other occasion will have Katsuki be in formal dress. He knows that she does for work… and only for work, since he doesn’t know much about her outside of what she does for work.

“Kacchan, calm down”, Midoriya tries to prevent Katsuki from becoming even more agitated, “Todoroki-kun isn’t on his phone all the time, unlike someone”.

As Midoriya intended, Katsuki immediately turns to look at him, “are you taking a dig at me, Deku!?” Her frown deepens and she stalks towards him instead. Shouto watches with amusement, but it drops when he sees the clutch of flowers Midoriya was holding and the large bag sitting beside him. It makes Shouto believe even more that they had come after work.

“Kacchan!” Midoriya is startled, he slyly shifts so that the bunch of flowers is directly in front of Katsuki, as though if he didn’t, she would slug him. Shouto doubts it. Only until Katsuki actually lightly slaps Midoriya on the shoulder.

Katsuki then turns to look at Shouto, “hurry up and let me in already”.

Shouto is not absent-minded, but he isn’t sure what is going on, but he nods and hastily unlocks his door and lets both Midoriya and Katsuki in. Shouto is glad that he had cleaned his apartment earlier that day. He rests his purchases from the convenient store on his kitchen bench after grabbing indoor slippers for his uninvited guests.

Katsuki is graceful and Shouto can’t stop watching. He knows he’s too obvious when Midoriya asks him for a place to place his large bag and flowers. With a sense of uncertainty, Shouto directs Midoriya to the kitchen table, in which Katsuki was already walking towards.

“Um”, is all Shouto is able to get out as Midoriya places the flowers on the table, he then unzips the bags and takes out what Shouto recognises as Katsuki’s ikebana equipment. Despite Shouto’s initial lack of knowledge in the art of kadou, he recognises most of the pieces Katsuki picks up, thanks to her interviews. The kenzan and the rubber mat that accompanies it, he has seen many photos of Katsuki holding it in magazines and then placing it into a vase of her choice. Katsuki chose a shallow wooden vase, more like a dish than a vase.

Shouto eventually shifts and watches as Midoriya hands Katsuki her tools, he watches as Katsuki concentrates on nothing else but the art piece she is currently working on. Shouto admires Katsuki, she really is an artist, like the one he sees in the media. Not the one who wears skimpy clothing and uses Midoriya almost like her personal slave.

The finesse Katsuki has is evident even in the eyes of an amateur such as Shouto himself. Once he saw the talent itself, he found himself unable to tear away. It was such a stark contrast to Katsuki who isn’t a kadouka. But he found both attractive. He wanted to be near her and continue watching her.

He isn’t sure of the flower names, they were pretty, he loved the blend of white and red with the branches that made the art piece even more intrinsic and curious to the eye. Midoriya rummaged through the kitchen with Shouto’s permission and grabbed a bowl filling it up with cold water and then placing it in position for Katsuki so that he can cut his stems under the water. Katsuki whispers to the flowers, and it comes out as a mumble to Shouto’s ears. He wonders what she’s saying to the flowers, he wonders if she changes what she says depending on the type of flower. She brings some stem back to trim a couple more times and Shouto thinks that even Katsuki can’t automatically get it right in the first god. Shouto makes a mental note to one day gather the courage to ask Katsuki why she does trim the stems underwater.

Shouto watches Katsuki stand back and inspect her work, he watches as she adjusts the branches, the stems, rotates them, lowers the angle and with each time she reconsiders, her gaze is confidence and steady. As though she could see something that no one else could within her art.

The longer he stared, the more Katsuki’s art work turned into something even more beautiful. He had originally thought that the flowers by themselves were already quite pretty to look at, but after they pass through Katsuki’s hands, they become even more stunning. Shouto did not know how that was made possible, but it was.

“White calla lily”, Katsuki stands back and gives Shouto a smile, “youth”.

Shouto’s frown disappears and he gives Katsuki a nod.

“Red dahlia”, Katsuki tilts her head, “strength”.

Shouto nods again.

Katsuki bows slightly, there’s a polite smile that graces her features. Her body manner is proper and she acts exactly like what Shouto would expect of a well-educated lady would. He was mesmerised.

Shouto does not know what to do, so he applauds. It makes Katsuki politely bow slightly again.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya’s voice breaks the bubble Shouto was in. “Photos”, Midoriya gives his friend a smile.

Katsuki scrunches her nose before he looks around the living room apartment.

“Todoroki-kun, can we borrow a space to take some photos?” Midoriya asks.

There was no way Shouto was going to say no, after all, they did just barge into his apartment somewhat and start this spectacular show without obtaining his permission. Though they did imply that several messages were sent… though that doesn’t mean he had said yes, though had he read the messages, he answer would’ve most likely been a big fat yes.

“Of course”, Shouto nods, he looks around too and finds a low shelf on the other end of his living room, “you can use this shelf”, Shouto then proceeds to move the decoration he has on his shelf, just various souvenirs he has received over time from his friends – Iida and Midoriya, and his siblings.

“Thank you”, Midoriya smiles as he helps, they dust the shelf despite Shouto having cleaned it some mere hours ago before Midoriya gently sets Katsuki’s latest art work on the glass shelf. He checks the angle through his viewfinder before adjusting his lenses and the position of Katsuki’s art work. Several snaps are taken, some with a bright flash, and Shouto watches as Midoriya changes his camera lenses with expertise. It makes him happy, to know that Midoriya who had wanted to become a photographer, really is one now. Though Shouto had thought that Midoriya had wanted to be one to take photos of scoops… not to be one who followed his childhood friend around documenting everything she did in her career.

Eh. Shouto is slightly confused now. Would this artwork here, done in his apartment room with less than fitting lighting even be something Midoriya will publish? Shouto wonders how often Katsuki randomly chooses a place and then decides she wants to perform there. It is, to Shouto, a blessing, but one covered in confusion.

“Kacchan, please”, Midoriya says as he lowers his camera and looks directly at Katsuki who still had a disgruntled look on her face.

Katsuki glares at Midoriya, “stop telling me what to do”, but she steps into the frame and next to her art regardless.

“I’m not”, Midoriya replies as he once again hides his face behind the camera, “you know I’m not”, a few snaps are taken before Midoriya directs again, “but it would be nice if you could smile”.

Katsuki scoffs but she does so anyway. Shouto’s heart jumps out of his ribcage when Katsuki looks his way and gives him a smile, though it was only brief because before he knew it, Katsuki was looking back at the flowers she had arranged, a sweet smile on her face, her body exuding grace.

Shouto wants to ask what he needs to do for Midoriya to share those photos with him. Shouto no longer feels that a simple memory is enough to quench his desires.

Midoriya lowers his camera and then moves to gently pat Katsuki on the back before he goes to clean up as assistance. Shouto watches as Katsuki quietly cleans her scissors, her mini saws she used for the branch that embodies the flowers to create that sense of comfort and being. It should be a menial task, one that is boring and shouldn’t garner any semblance of interest at all. But to Shouto, it was something he’s never seen before in real life. It was something they don’t’ broadcast on TV, the aftermath, the cleaning up, the way Katsuki holds up her tools of trade to inspect them and make sure they’re in the condition she wants before sheltering them back in her leather holsters. Shouto finds his heart racing when Katsuki steps away from her artwork to sharpen her scissors a few times.

“What’s for dinner?” Katsuki asks as Midoriya packs the rest of her equipment.

Shouto wants to ask what Katsuki was going to do with her finished piece. But instead, he answers her question. “Soba”, he looks at his dinner that he was going to consume sitting with loneliness on the kitchen bench.

“Again?” Katsuki seems displeased, she walks towards the plastic bag, opens it and peers in, her expression says all, “do you even eat anything else, plus, how is this going to feed the three of us?”

“Three?” Shouto shakes his head, he had planned dinner for himself only, not for 2 other people.

“If you had checked your phone”, Katsuki turns to face Shouto and crosses her arms, “but you’re such a half-ass”.

Shouto frowns at that insult. He isn’t. “We could go out for dinner”, Shouto suggests and then takes a peak at the clock in the kitchen and realises just how late it is, he hadn’t realised so much time had passed since watching Katsuki perform. It’s more supper than dinner at this point in time.

“Somewhere close by?” Katsuki has a pondering expression on her face.

“Close would be good, Kacchan, you haven’t eaten since lunch”, Midoriya’s voice is laced with concern for his childhood friend.

“Okay”, Katsuki confirms, she then takes the duffel bag Midoriya hands her before looking straight back at Shouto, “where’s the bathroom?”.

Shouto nods and shows her the way. Until he realised that that was the one room he has yet to clean, his anxiousness shows, clearly, from Katsuki says next.

“I live with Deku, surely your bathroom can’t be any messier than his”, her tone is playful and there’s a smile at her lips which sends Shouto’s heart beating in a frenzy. All Shouto can do is nod and hopes that the state of his bathroom won’t be the cut to his not-quite budding relationship with Katsuki.

“Well?” Katsuki says as she stands at the entrance of the bathroom, her red eyes pierces into Shouto questioningly.

“Hm?” Shouto is lost as he stands rooted in his position, his eyes immediately drawn to Katsuki’s own red eyes.

“I’m changing, you’re not going to be standing there, with or without the door closed”, Katsuki growls out and then slams the door in Shouto’s face.

“M-my bad”, Shouto stammers out before hurrying down his own corridor back into the living room where Midoriya was smiling at him, as though he knows exactly what Shouto was going through.

“Sorry for baring in unexpectedly”, Midoriya apologises on behalf of Katsuki as well.

Shouto smiles and shakes his hand, “it’s alright”, he then moves to pack his soba in the fridge and his nuts in the pantry. His leaves his magazine on the kitchen bench, he still wants to go through it eventually.

“That’s the one Kacchan is in”, Midoriya notes.

Shouto nods, “yes, you told me that her interview was going to be published in this volume, thank you”.

“You really are a fan”, Midoriya smiles, “I’m glad”.

Shouto looks at Midoriya and wonders if there’s an underlying message in those words. Is Midoriya glad that Shouto appreciates Katsuki and her works, because he does too? Or is Midoriya gland that Shouto isn’t anything more than just a fan. Shouto decides he won’t dwell on it for too long, and he doesn’t get the chance to regardless as Katsuki then makes her way out of Shouto’s bathroom.

“Your bathroom is a mess”, Katsuki comments and hands her duffel bag back to Midoriya.

Shouto swallows thickly. He quickly glances at what Katsuki was wearing and just knows that she will be cold again, “did you bring a winter coat with you?”

Katsuki looks at what she was wearing and replies without care, “no”.

“It’s going to be cold”, Shouto stresses, “you can borrow one of mine if you want”.

Katsuki’s gaze immediately snaps to Shouto’s face. Her ears tinge red. And Shouto is sure he matches that red too with his own cheeks.

“No, that’s fine”, Katsuki rejects Shouto’s offer after a pause, “Deku’s is enough”.

Midoriya says nothing and only looks at Shouto with a guarded expression. It wasn’t one Shouto has ever seen on his best friend’s face before. “That’s fine”, Midoriya reassures. He doesn’t ask to borrow one of Shouto’s jackets either. But he really could’ve.

Dinner (supper, Shouto reminds himself) ends up at a 24/7 family restaurant. It was close, not too far, it also meant Shouto didn’t need to see Katsuki wearing Midoriya’s jacket for as long. She looks so snug, and the cold wind that chills her cheeks leaving them looking red only makes her more appealing to the eye. Shouto wants to warm up his hands so that he could cup her cheeks and warm them up, turning them red with his warmth instead of the frost of winter. There’s a strange tug at his heart, he can’t quite put a finger on it however.

Funnily enough, they all order a variety of the hamburger steak. It smelled delicious and the sizzle the food came out on only heightened Shouto’s hunger. He watched with amusement as Katsuki waffled hers down easily now that her hair was pulled back. To think that moments ago she was a refined lady. Almost, godly. And now, she was before him, more human than anything and definitely closer to reach.

Shouto watches with envy when Midoriya and Katsuki share a parfait together. He knows that they’re only friends, but closeness they have is something Shouto realises he doesn’t have with anyone. He hadn’t realised that he might’ve desire such a relationship until it was sitting before him. Sure, they bicker and push each other around, but Shouto can see the depth of care and trust they have for each other. He was jealous. And it was laughable. The state in which Katsuki has placed him in without even so much as a glance.

“I’ll be over tomorrow night”, Katsuki declares as she takes spoons of vanilla ice-cream, there’s pure glee on her face when Midoriya lets Katsuki have the chocolate wafer. Shouto thinks that perhaps Midoriya really does spoil Katsuki a bit too much. He almost seems like a father figure more than a childhood friend. Though when Katsuki leaves the chocolate brownie for Midoriya, Shouto comes to realise that Katsuki also spoils her childhood friend, just, in her own not so traditional ways.

“Eh?” Shouto is taken aback by the sudden declaration, he stops eating his pudding.

“Don’t make me repeat myself”, Katsuki rolls her eyes.

“Okay”, Shouto nods, he turns to look at Midoriya who gives him a smile ad thumbs up. It earns him a smack from Katsuki on the shoulder.

Already past midnight and with a heavy back, Shouto makes his way back into his apartment, all he wants to do is crawl back into bed. When Shouto realises that Midoriya and Katsuki had left Katsuki’s latest lily and dahlia work in his apartment, he immediately takes his phone out to message Midoriya. He skims pass the messages of Midoriya informing him, not even asking him, that they will be visiting his apartment later that night. Shouto tries not to calculate just how long the two of them were standing and waiting outside his apartment for.

Todoroki Shouto
You left Katsuki’s flowers at mine.

Midoriya replies shortly.

Midoriya Izuku
They’re yours.
Kacchan’s birthday present for you.

Shouto re-reads the message too many times, he can hear his heart hammer in his chest and the sense of elation and happiness brings him to his knees as he stares at the art before him. He has often heard that the art of great artists is a reflection of who they are, and that they become better and better and portraying it through their works, though it may seem twisted and unfathomable to the general eye, it is the essence of who they really are. As Shouto continues to stare at Katsuki’s arrangement, he wonders just how much of Katsuki he was really looking at, he wonders just how much he was really interpreting. Because it was absolutely beautiful beyond belief.

Eventually, Shouto replies.

Todoroki Shouto
Thank you.
Thank you so very much.

Shouto’s birthday which started as just every other day then became a day he found he will never forget. He was definitely touched and felt grateful. Shouto isn’t a great photographer, he is by no means, an artist, but he can appreciate art despite knowing so little about it. So, when he captures a photo of Katsuki’s art on his smartphone, he hopes that it embodied his feelings of gratitude and joy. And in that moment, Shouto felt powerful.

He ends up using the photo as his smartphone background.

He can’t wait to see Katsuki the next night. With an overly elated heart, Shouto rests his head in a deep slumber.

Shouto feels like the mundane work of working for his father over the sparse days he isn’t at university doesn’t even wear him down with the prospect of seeing Katsuki that night. He does realise that there are now ikebana displays in the lobby, Shouto goes to inspect it and wonders if they were Katsuki’s art. He takes some photos and shoots Midoriya a message. Midoriya replies with an affirmative. It really isn’t until his lunch break in which Shouto actually gets a break, he goes straight down to the lobby to admire the flowers some more. There was a total of 4 in the lobby, each one different to each other in terms of dynamic and structure, but each one was compiled of the same flowers and leaves. Shouto thinks that Katsuki must be very imaginative to use the same flowers and branches to create 4 different pieces of art. He supposes she did deliberately choose different shapes for the branches to help create the atmosphere of each piece. And he was amazed that a simple tweak in the bend of a branch can change the piece by so much.

There is barely enough time for Shouto to give his bathroom a rough clean before Katsuki is ringing his doorbell. There’s no saying that she may or may not be using his bathroom, but you never know.

Midoriya is holding 2 boxes of pizza and a side of garlic bread as Katsuki stalks into the apartment, taking her shoes off and slipping on the guest slippers. Shouto had thought that the first thing Katsuki would want to do is eat pizza. He has an idea that she is quite fond of food, but it isn’t the first thing she does, contrary to his expectations. Katsuki places her hand bag on Shouto’s couch, he notes that she’s wearing another pair of short skirt. Katsuki looks at her art piece that’s still sitting on the glass shelf in the living room.

“We need to change the water”, Midoriya explains as Katsuki gets to work, “so that they can live longer”.

Shouto nods in understanding. That’s why Katsuki said she was coming over tonight. It was to change the water. Nothing else.

“We brought pizza over?” Midoriya offers with a smile.

And perhaps a shelter to eat pizza in. Shouto laughs to himself as he helps Midoriya set up the dinner table whilst Katsuki tends to her flowers. The three of them easily demolish the 2 pizza and 2 loaves of garlic bread. They even end up pulling out Shouto’s soba from last night and sharing that as well as the roasted nuts.

“I’ll be back tomorrow night”, Katsuki says as she puts on Midoriya’s jacket and is at the genkan fixing her shoes.

“Don’t you have a radio show tomorrow night?” Shouto asks, he knows she does.

Katsuki looks at Midoriya who nods.

“I’ll come after that”, Katsuki shrugs, “I want dinner”.

“Okay”, Shouto nods, he can organise dinner.

“Well then”, Katsuki shuffles at her feet and tugs the jacket closer to herself, “see you”.

“See you”, Shouto replies and wonders why he suddenly feels so awkward.

Shouto tunes in to Katsuki’s radio guesting the next night. He tunes in whilst he’s preparing dinner for his soon to arrive guests. Soba is his favourite, and if he were to be honest, it really is the only thing he can prepare knowing that it won’t be a flop. And he doesn’t want dinner to be a flop.

Preparations finish much earlier than the time Midoriya and Katsuki are scheduled to arrive. Shouto wonders when Katsuki will stop wearing such a tight fitted knit and short skirts. It’s winter, she must be cold. But apart from her donning Midoriya’s jacket when they’re out, she shows no signs of being cold whatsoever. Perhaps this is the tenacity his older sister harps on about time after time.

“Soba, again?” Katsuki complains as she takes her seat and lets Shouto serve dinner.

“Soba is the best”, Shouto replies simply. It truly is.

“No, it’s not”, Katsuki has a childish ring to her tone as she slumps back tiredly into the chair.

Midoriya chuckles.

“That’s it, tomorrow night, we’re going to have nabe”, Katsuki declares as she suddenly sits up right, “Shouto, you’re banned from cooking from here on out until I say so”.

“Eh?” Shouto is alarmed at the use of his first name and the content of what Katsuki had just announced, how can he be banned from cooking in his own home?

“Deku, we’re going to have to fit in groceries tomorrow in our schedule”, Katsuki taps her fingers against each other, she then looks at Shouto, “there isn’t anything you don’t eat?”

Shouto shakes his head. He can eat everything. There are a few things he isn’t fond of, but he’ll eat it.

It turns out that they do end up having nabe. Shouto learns quickly that Katsuki is a demoness in the kitchen. She is able to multi-task and bark out orders for Midoriya and him to follow. Judging by Midoriya’s smiles, Shouto infers that Katsuki has always been like so.

“Is she always like this?” Shouto asks his best friend.

Midoriya nods, “Just wait and see, Kacchan cooks really well too”.

And true to Midoriya’s words, Katsuki is an amazing cook. Nabe is simple, one would say, but it has been a long time since Shouto had tasted one so delicious, and to think that it was made within his kitchen. It was almost as spectacular as watching Katsuki the kadouka. She really is a woman of many talents. Shouto can really see that now.

They end up watching whatever variety show is playing on TV, small chat is made throughout dinner and it’s comfortable for Shouto, the food was comforting, his guests were not burdensome. He felt very satisfied. And he was able to see his crush in real life. That was probably the cherry on the top. It made his heart flutter when she would get up and check on her art, she’d glance over and nod at Shouto for not killing her gift. He would never.

The days rolled by with either Shouto buying takeaway for dinner, Midoriya buying takeaway for dinner or Katsuki in the kitchen whipping up something hearty and quick. Most nights, they still till late, till after the late-night news is broadcasted. Shouto likes that Midoriya takes a cab home with Katsuki, knows that they both get home safely before he climbs into bed, thinking about Katsuki. Shouto thinks that he could readily become accustomed to this kind of routine. But he knows it must end. Towards the end of the 4th week, almost a month after Shouto’s birthday, Katsuki declares that there is nothing else for her to do to keep her art alive. She retrieves her tools and Shouto is sad to acknowledge that this means the end of their endless dinners together. The realisation settles in faster than Shouto had hoped when Katsuki leaves with Midoriya without saying “see you tomorrow night”, because they won’t be seeing each other tomorrow night.

Shouto waves with a grim face. Katsuki gives him an annoyed look and loudly stomps away. Midoriya smiles and returns the wave as he runs after Katsuki.

An instant sense of deprivation settles into Shouto and it only gets worse as the hours tick by and the new day approaches. Shouto plans for dinner for himself. The cycle will continue, he will continue with university and he will continue working for his father. As Shouto gobbles down his soba for dinner, he feels like he has never felt lonelier. He looks at his phone and realises he can not contact Katsuki, that thought makes him frown. The short message he sends to Iida and Midoriya is not read. He understands that they are busy. Shouto takes out a few magazines from his stack to flip through as he admires Katsuki some more. She really is so beautiful. Someone who is out of his league, yet he desires her.

It should then be fair to say that Shouto feels extra disgusted with himself as he pleasures himself to the image of Katsuki. He blames it on his hormones for him to be able to sleep without a frown on his face.

On the third day after, Shouto receives a message from Midoriya that makes his heart soars. He has learnt his lesson and regularly checks his phone, he is keeping it by him anyway.

Midoriya Izuku
Good morning, Todoroki-kun. Would you be available for dinner tonight? Kacchan is craving sushi.

Shouto is screaming out yes in his head before he even types out his answer.

Todoroki Shouto
Yes.

Midoriya answers straight away too, sending over the information of where they plan to eat – a private room, of course, and the time. The anticipation of seeing Katsuki again makes Shouto’s day go by so much faster, he had finished up some paperwork for his father earlier in the day, and all he needs to do is sit through his university classes.

Unfortunately for Shouto, time seemed to be slowly crawling by. He felt like he had gone through weeks before his classes finished. Hurrying home, Shouto drops his bag in the living room before quickly changing into something more appropriate for dinner. Shouto had to keep reminding himself that it’s just a dinner, nothing else, definitely not something he should be hung up about, because it’s definitely not a date. Plus, it’s not the first time they’ve had dinner together. They’ve been having dinner together pretty much ever day for the last 4 weeks. This is the same, Midoriya is still there. They’re just, in a more public area. That’s all. Shouto calms his nerves and makes his way to the restaurant.

It’s been a while since he’s gone out for sushi. It isn’t usually something he craves. There was a mild sense of déjà vu as Shouto makes his way to the private room, led by staff and he opens the door to find that Katsuki was sitting there already, animatedly discussing something with Midoriya. The conversation stops abruptly when Shouto enters however.

“Sorry for the wait”, Shouto immediately says.

“No, no”, Midoriya reassures Shouto, “we were just early”.

Katsuki lets out a sound of annoyance, her arms cross against her chest again. Shouto knows with just a glance that she’s wearing her seemingly favourite knit jumpers and pleated skirts. Really, they’re in spring already. The days were still quite chilly however. He supposes it isn’t too strange for Katsuki to still be wearing winter clothing. Perhaps she was extra sensitive to the cold. The glance Shouto had intended turns into a stare when he realises just how Katsuki was sitting, she was obviously too comfortable. She had one leg crossed and the other pressed against her chest. Shouto is sure he could see what he shouldn’t be seeing if he changed his angle of sight. Katsuki was half slumped on the table, Shouto assumes that she has actually been waiting for a long time. It was no wonder why she was annoyed.

Shouto has never really had omakase sushi in a private room before, he thinks it’s because his parents don’t quite like the idea of having a chef sit in their room and listen in whilst he makes the sushi. Though, it seems Midoriya had requested the chef to step outside and have the food delivered out of consciousness for Katsuki. It seems like a regular method as none of the wait staff seemed surprised or found it strange. To Shouto it was definitely strange to have omakase without the chef in sight, because isn’t part of the meal watching the chef prepare your food for you? He would have thought that Katsuki of all people – an artist herself – would’ve dwelled on that point. But, Shouto supposes that in this instance, they wanted to be surprised by the chef’s choices in menu but also wanted the privacy. Compromises must be made. Shouto understood this point all too well. Even if it were not something often hammered in in business, he’d still be familiar with compromises. His whole family feels like a compromise.

There are no qualms however, since Shouto is easy going and settles with omakase as well. The only one he isn’t a fan of at all is tamago. Sure, he’s eaten multiple delicious fluffy and well balanced tamago, perks of being the son of someone as important and well-known as his father. But Shouto has never found tamago sushi to be something he would deliberately order. The fact that his mother makes horrible tamagoyaki may also be a root cause of his lack of favourable feelings towards tamagoyaki.

Dinner proceeds smoothly. Work is discussed lightly and the current state of politics is the topic that is quickly latched upon and discussed in great detail. Katsuki often gives an aloof attitude so Shouto was surprised that she knew in-depth the politics of the country they’re in and participated passionately in the conversation. He was enjoying himself. He tried not to look at Katsuki’s leg that was pressed against her chest. He tried not to remember that Katsuki’s mini skirt fell away and probably revealed more than it really should outside the comfort of her own home. At least there were stockings. But still, he is only able to hold back so much. He is a man after all.

And it was as though Midoriya knew – how he was so unaffected, Shouto isn’t sure, but he assumes it’s because he doesn’t have a gigantic crush on Katsuki – because he would smile and bring Shouto back into conversation, diverting his attention successfully. Shouto was grateful, but at the same time, he felt extremely frustrated at this weakness of his.

As expected with omakase restaurants, the turnover rate was high, before he knew it, the serving of the meal was complete and they had all finished eating. Shouto is always slightly amazed at how much Katsuki can eat, but still remains so skinny.

“Oi”, Katsuki growls out as she lightly kicks Shouto in the shin with her platforms, “what are you staring at, let’s go”.

Shouto nods. He’s starting to find that’s he’s becoming more and more of a good listener.

“Shall we go get oden, Kacchan?” Midoriya suggests.

“I didn’t ask you”, Katsuki spits out, she turns away from Midoriya with a frown. Midoriya only smiles sheepishly.

“What would you like, Katsuki?” Shouto asks. He does suppose they’re not really in winter anymore, oden isn’t really a popular choice in March.

Katsuki peeks at Shouto and her frown drops, her voice is surprisingly honest, “oden”.

Midoriya’s smile remains sheepish. Shouto is surprised but it doesn’t show on his face, “I’m happy with oden”. Shouto knows that that would be what they’ll plan to have as soon as oden left Katsuki’s lips. It was easy to tell that Midoriya definitely spoiled Katsuki. He can’t complain. Oden is also something Shouto has never had in a private room – it as either on the streets at a cart or in an izakaya - but it seems like Midoriya and Katsuki know all the places to choose as they easily find a private room serving oden – odd. It was obvious that Midoriya and Katsuki often ate in private rooms. Shouto supposes it only made sense due to Katsuki celebrity status, it was difficult for her to blend in with the masses when she stood out and shone so brightly. Not to mention that her usual attitude isn’t exactly… lady-like. But Shouto likes that, he has discovered, over the course of his so-far short but not really brief interactions with Katsuki.

Shouto quickly re-discovers just how close Midoriya and Katsuki are. Even though he calls Midoriya his best friend, he surely does not know what Midoriya’s second favourite menu item is. He knows the first though. But it seems like Katsuki knows the whole list and Midoriya knows hers too. It would be nice, Shouto thought, if he could take this chance to learn what Katsuki’s favourite oden menu items were. After all, it was a topic she has never discussed in public. She doesn’t even seem to have the image of liking oden. After all, Shouto often associated oden with commoners, or as supper for late-night shift workers and salary men who didn’t want to go home just yet. Not someone who seems as pristine as Katsuki the kadouka. Though perhaps Bakugou Katsuki herself, yes. It was strange how different the two appeared to be. Though Shouto understands very well the importance of having another face for work. He just hopes that the Bakugou Katsuki sitting before him now and commenting on Midoriya’s taste for food is the real Bakugou Katsuki.

When one of the waitress brings in a sauce and places it right by Katsuki’s side, Shouto knows that they must be regulars here. He can tell just from looking at the colour of the dipping sauce that it’s chilly. He doesn’t even need to look for the chilly seeds or smell it. He can see it. Shouto has never come across someone who uses chilly sauce with their oden. In fact, he doesn’t use a dipping sauce himself, and neither does Midoriya.

“What?” Katsuki snaps and catches Shouto’s gaze, “you want some?” She asks and points to her chilly concoction.

Shouto shakes his head, he isn’t the best with chilly, he would rank himself as average, “no, I don’t use dipping sauces with oden”.

Katsuki shrugs, “your loss”.

Shouto is tempted to think that she was unlikely to share it with him had he said yes.

What surprised Shouto even more was when the oden was finally served after they listed the ingredients they wanted in it… was well, the ingredients in it. He hadn’t paid much attention to it except for the fact that Midoriya and Katsuki knew what each other liked and would make use of that information to order it when the other forgot whilst lightly making fun of the other for forgetting (more so on Katsuki’s end). But now that the oden was before him, he found the ingredients in it to look, well, quite out of place. There was the usual daikon, fried tofu, egg and his favourite selection of nerimono. But then there were things like shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, things that appeared to be cabbage rolls? And… meat balls? They were things Shouto has never had in an oden before.

“Oh-ho”, Katsuki seems pleased, she wears a cheeky grin, “thank you for the food”, before she picks up a meat ball and dunks it in her chilly sauce. Shouto watches with a shocked face. But Katsuki eats it as thought they did not just have dinner. She eats it so happily that it almost makes Shouto believe that meat balls belong in oden. They don’t. Not for him. But he guesses it could from now on out if Katsuki wears such a huge smile from eating it.

Shouto is munching on a piece of fried tofu when Midoriya chuckles as he picks up a chikuwa, “Todoroki-kun, did you know?”

Shouto looks up and at Midoriya. Katsuki does the same. When she sees the chikuwa sandwiched between Midoriya’s chopsticks, she becomes flustered straight away and immediately glares at Midoriya.

“Deku, shut up”.

Midoriya grins at Katsuki, he has no intentions of shutting up, “when we were younger Kacchan-”

There’s a fist in Midoriya’s face that does shut him up for a little bit. “Deku! Shut up”.

Shouto was initially shocked to see such displays of affection, but after a month of having dinner with them, he no longer is. It’s their normal. If Shouto had a childhood friend, he wonders if he would also act similarly. Shouto knows that if he had a childhood friend like Katsuki, he’d be in love with her.

Midoriya nurses his face with a smile, he points to his phone that’s sitting on the table, indicating that he’ll tell Todoroki later. Katsuki catches the movement and swipes Midoriya’s phone. “You’re banned from your phone, Deku”.

“EH!?” Midoriya is not flustered, “Kacchan, I need my phone for work, please don’t take it”.

“What?” Katsuki places it on her side of the table, “your work is my work, are you saying I can’t deal with it?”

“I’m not challenging you, Kacchan”, Midoriya pleads.

“Stupid Deku”, Katsuki growls, she taps her slim fingers gently on Midoriya’s screen and then smirks at Midoriya, “ah~ Do you have a girlfriend you’re hiding from us?”

“No!” Midoriya denies vehemently.

Shouto laughs.

“I don’t have time for that”, Midoriya has a frown on his face, “organising your schedule is already a heap”.

Katsuki rolls her eyes, she looks at Shouto and then shakes her head at Midoriya, as though she were saying what are we going to do about this blockhead?

Shouto smiles. Had he not known that Midoriya and Katsuki were just friends, he would’ve looked at their banter in a different light. But now that he knows, he can see that they honestly just act like siblings teasing each other.

“So?” Katsuki now turns her attention to Shouto, “does Mr. Half-ass have a girlfriend?”

Shouto’s smile drops. Because he wants Katsuki to be his girlfriend, he just hasn’t felt comfortable enough to ask yet. Especially not with Midoriya’s all-knowing smile looming beside Katsuki. Best friend or not. It felt ominous. “No”, Shouto replies dryly and doesn’t offer up any other explanation.

Katsuki hums and takes a sip of her tea before she goes back to eating. The conversation quickly turns around and Katsuki starts asking about Shouto’s work. He isn’t very interested in his own work, simply because to him, it is work, and that he is expected to participate in it – family pressures. But it seems like Katsuki is interested so he talks about how he feels about it over the last few days, which isn’t any different to how he felt about it 1 month ago. Or 1 year ago.

He can not deny that he is slightly jealous of Katsuki who seems to enjoy her work, “it was a hobby at first”, Shouto wants to be able to say something like that too. Unfortunately, work has never been a hobby for him. And because he doesn’t hate it, it is unlikely he will ever completely drop out of business.

When Katsuki shifts her legs, Shouto can’t help but let his eyes follow the slim legs covered in stockings. He hopes he isn’t being too obvious. He hopes he can stop this behaviour already, he knows it really isn’t all that appropriate.

They plan another dinner outing in a week’s time.

Except that isn’t the next time Shouto sees Katsuki again in person.

Shouto receives a call in the morning from his mother a day after, asking for his presence for dinner in the evening. Honestly, Shouto loathes these seemingly out of the blue calls, simply because he could have had dinner plans that night, but he’d have to cancel and reschedule due to an apparently emergency call from home. He knows that this is because his parents are well-known, but he finds that it is a tiring lifestyle and he hates that whoever he has made plans with understands so simply like it is the right thing to do. Because it sure doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. He would hate it if his friend kept cancelling on him for family matters no matter how understanding he is. No matter how important it is, constant cancellations pile up and become tiring, for him and the people he had made plans with.

Fortunately, Shouto had not made dinner plans that night. With a disgruntled attitude and a heavy heart, Shouto gets dressed properly and then goes to work. He leaves on time for once so that he can go home first without his father stopping him and immediately sending him to their dinner. Because it has happened before, and Shouto is not keen for it to happen, again.

Shouto can’t be bothered changing out of his work clothes, but he does wash his feet as an attempt to try and relax temporarily because he has to go and deal with what his parents want from him. It was probably another attempt to convince him to return home. The answer is no. He does not intend to return to his family home. Not when neither his father nor mother were on his side. At least, not for what he wants. The independence, the desire to do what he wants, when he wants, it would all be restricted again were he to return home.

The sinking feeling within him becomes colder when Shouto steps foot outside the apartment complex he lives in and he sees what appears to be one of the family cars waiting for him. His suspicions are confirmed when he recognises one of the chauffers step out of the car, greet him and then open a door into the car for him.

Inwardly, Shouto sighs. For them to bring a chauffer for him, it must be a topic that’s going to be tedious for Shouto to reject. He knows his parents have good intentions, they want him to get to the dinner on time, they want him to get there comfortably, but sitting in the luxurious car with just him and the chauffer makes Shouto feel more suffocated, he wants to escape. He doesn’t want to listen to his parents go on and on, but he knows that if he doesn’t, the repercussions will be worse. He can imagine the harassment he will receive from his parents if he were to dismiss them constantly.

It wasn’t a long drive to the restaurant. Shouto definitely feels like a son from a rich family when he steps out onto the bustling street from a luxury car. The difference was obviously there despite the restaurant located at a high-end part of town.

Shouto is immediately led into a private room when he steps foot into the seafood restaurant. He can’t remember how many Michelin stars it has, but he knows that his mother has mentioned it in passing before. It wasn’t important information anyway.

With an expressionless face, Shouto enters the private room politely with a bow. His face however lights up when he finds Katsuki sitting on the opposite side, again. This time she wasn’t sitting in-between her parents, but at the end of the table, next to her father. Shouto takes a seat opposite her. Already, the negative feelings Shouto was harbouring as he came to this meeting was already dissipating. He just hopes that he hasn’t somehow disrespected Katsuki in some way and she’s now sitting opposite him intending to file a complaint or something along those lines. He thinks it would be highly unlikely since she was much the same somewhat 24 hours ago. Not expressively fond of him, but definitely did not hate him either.  

Shouto notes that Katsuki is in a plain top tucked into her high-waisted pleated skirt. If Shouto could guess, he’d say that that was Katsuki’s favourite style. He does feel like every time he sees her in casual, she’s always wearing a short skirt and boots. Shouto greets Katsuki’s parents again and notes that this time he was here before his own parents. But before he could say anything else, his parents enter the room as well, polite greetings leaving their mouths.

“We’ve received another one”, Mitsuki states as he places another paper envelope onto the table as Shouto dutifully pours the tear for his parents.

“Eh?” Shouto is surprised.

Shouto watches as his father takes the envelope and pull out the contents. There were more than several photos and a draft article written up again. His parents are clearly not shocked, they must’ve known what this meeting was all about from the get go. It would be nice if they had informed him too. He’d have come in something that wasn’t work clothes. Though he would’ve chosen a suit regardless, probably.

Just with a glance, Shouto recognises that it’s Katsuki and him in the photos. There was even a photo from when Katsuki came over on his birthday, still donned in her kimono as she waited outside his apartment. There were ones from the other nights she comes over with Midoriya, and even one from last night when he met up with the two for dinner.

Shouto then takes the draft article and gives it a brief look over. He laughs to himself at the inferences made. Shouto wonders whether they also receive articles like this with other people Katsuki visits. Or for just Midoriya, who seems to be with Katsuki all day, every day. He wonders if Katsuki often goes to these kinds of meetings so that both parties get a better idea of what the media is trying to scoop.

Katsuki is already digging into the entrée – seared scallops as the parents discuss the contents again. Shouto follows and is barely listening to their parents talk about each photo and dissecting the draft article word by word.

“Do you often receive things like that?” Shouto asks Katsuki and nods his head at the article, photos and envelope their parents are holding and discussing amongst themselves.

Katsuki gives Shouto a disgusted expression, “no”, she sounds just as offended.

“Makes sense”, Shouto nods.

“What?” Katsuki looks accusatorily at Shouto.

“What?” Shouto asks back but in a much softer tone.

Makes sense? You said”, Katsuki grits her teeth together, “you want a fist to your face?”

Shouto is not surprised, Katsuki is brash and rude at best, but stunning despite all of that, “that’s polite of you”.

Katsuki loses her eyes and then takes a deep breath in.

Shouto decides that Katsuki is wise enough to try to calm down at this semi-formal setting, “I mean, it seems like Midoriya is your only friend”.

“Fuck you!” Katsuki stands up all of a sudden and knocks the table as she does so.

Immediately, the parents look towards Katsuki and then to Shouto back and forth. The silence is short-lived as Katsuki opens her mouth again, “how dare you even insinuate Deku is my friend”.

Shouto’s heart sinks.

Katsuki points a finger at Shouto, “Deku is at most my lackey”.

Shouto lets out a breath of relief. “He’s your personal photographer”, Shouto states, “your roommate, you both grew up together”. With his peripheral vision he notes Mitsuki wanting to say something but is stopped by Masaru. “How are you not friends?”

“He’s a nerd”, is Katsuki’s reasoning.

Shouto raises his eyebrows, “and…?”

“He’s not my friend”, Katsuki hisses and crosses her arms across her chest. She continues to stare daggers at Shouto from above.

“Katsuki”, Masaru speaks softly and smiles fondly at his daughter.

With her glare deepening, Katsuki turns to look her father. She huffs before she sits down again, her angry glare easily trained back onto Shouto.

“If Midoriya isn’t your friend, then… you really don’t have any friends”, Shouto comment sharply as he finds a sudden interest in riling up Katsuki and watching her rather entertaining reactions.

“I could say the same for you”, Katsuki’s glare only deepens as she points to the articles their parents are going through and the stacks of photos of the both together, “you’ve spent the better part of the last month with me”.

“And Midoriya”, Shouto adds quietly.

“Don’t you have anyone else to eat dinner with?” Katsuki leers, she rolls her shoulders.

“Iida”, Shouto replies, “you’ve met him before”.

Katsuki rolls her eyes, “so you have two friends”,

Three”, Shouto stresses and then starts listing, “Midoriya, Iida and you”.

Katsuki scoffs, “we are not friends”.

“Like how Midoriya isn’t your friend”, Shouto rolls his eyes this time.

Katsuki shakes her head, “that’s different, are you my lackey? Deku is a nerd”.

Shouto hums in agreement as he finishes his own entrée, Midoriya has always studied very hard. And it was as though Katsuki could read his thoughts when she then goes on to say, “Deku told me you were the Prince at school, all the girls tripped over themselves for you”.

“That’s an exaggeration”, Shouto scrunches his nose, he glances at his parents and is thankful that none of them are paying him any attention. Last thing he wants is to have additional blackmail for his parents to wield against him. He doesn’t need them knowing that he was being bothered at school because of their wealth and fame.

“So? What kind of person are you seeing now?” Katsuki refills her own tea and sips at it daintily, which made Shouto’s brain turn.

“I’m not”, Shouto denies, “what about you?”

“Clearly”, Katsuki folds her arms and looks at Shouto with judgement for a still second before looking at the documents between their parents, she sighs before leaning forward over the table, her arms do not touch the table, her voice becomes quieter when she next speaks, “I’m seeing you”.

Shouto knows it’s a joke, a jab, just Katsuki being Katsuki but his heart shakes at those words. He knows it’ can’t be true, but the fact that Katsuki said that to him, makes him feel what it could be like were it true. It makes him happy for less than a second but he comes crashing down when he understands that Katsuki is just teasing him, and judging by the wry smirk on her face, she’s enjoying it all too much. If Katsuki was having fun, Shouto thinks he won’t mind having himself be made fun of.

Katsuki leans back and unfolds her arms, she twirls some stray strands of hair with her index finger, her eyes never leaving Shouto’s own, “guess we should just make it official already”.

“I thought you didn’t want your reputation to be ruined by being with such a half-ass”, Shouto says with mock surprise.

“Just eating at the same restaurant as you is going to ruin my reputation”, Katsuki’s smirk widens, “damage is done already, so why not?”

Shouto blinks rapidly a few times, he knows they’re only joking around to pass time but he wishes they weren’t. He would be over the moon were Katsuki to really be his girlfriend.

“Katsuki”, Masaru interrupts straight away, sounding incredulous, “you want us to let all of this go public?”

“Obviously not!” Mitsuki shakes her head and nudges her husband, “Katsuki is just being a little shit”.

Katsuki frowns at her parents. Shouto swallows thickly.

“I hadn’t realised you guys were on such friendly terms”, Rei says, “last time, it was my understanding that you both barely knew each other?”

Katsuki shrugs, “we’re not friends”.

Shouto rolls his eyes, “sorry, mother, she’s always like this”. Shouto offers his mother a smile, “what she really means is that she’s too shy to admit that she has friends”.

“What are you? Deku? Suddenly dissecting all my words and explaining it to everyone else as though I can’t speak!?” Katsuki growls and throws her unused napkin at Shouto – hitting him square in the face. She appears even more annoyed when Shouto neatly folds the napkin and places it back on the table before grabbing his own unused one and then propelling it across the table to his Katsuki back in the face.

“Shouto! You!” Katsuki stands up in a hurry straight away as she holds tightly onto the napkin.

“You treat others how you want to be treated”, Shouto deadpans as he tries to hide his amusement, but his own smirk gives him away. At least he was able to will away his blush that is threatening to surface from Katsuki calling him by his first name.

“Shouto you shouldn’t be throwing napkins, or anything, at a lady”, Rei reprimands before apologising to Katsuki and then her parents. Masaru returns the apology, reasoning that it was Katsuki who had started it first.

Katsuki throws the napkin in her hand back at Shouto who catches it this time and then lets is sit on the table again. Even more annoyed that she had missed, Katsuki goes around to the other side of the table before bending down to grab Shouto by his collar. Shouto tries not to look surprised, tries not to stare too hard at Katsuki’s chest which definitely jiggled with her rough movements. He lets himself be pulled out of his seat and up by Katsuki. Shouto feels sorry for Katsuki when she realises that Shouto towers over her by more than a head. He knows that they don’t spend much time together when they’re not sitting, so the difference in height must be a bit of a shock to her. He sees it on her face. He is taller than Midoriya after all.

“Argh!” Katsuki fumbles before pushing and pulling at Shouto, “sit back down!”

Shouto listens and sits back down on his seat, he still directs his gaze at Katsuki and looks at her, waiting to see what she will do next.

With a huff, Katsuki leans in again. Shouto feels his heart beat increase. This time, he can’t resist the reddening of his ears, the small gasp that escapes his lips. His eyes flicker from Katsuki’s chest to her face, back and forth. His gaze stops at Katsuki’s fierce red eyes when her small but warm hands cup his cheeks. Shouto knows he has stopped breathing.

“You half-ass”, Katsuki’s voice is playful, her eyebrows come together when she then pinches Shouto’s cheeks hard and pulls for three seconds. She then lets go and stands up straight again as she now looks at Shouto’s pink cheeks, “see if you’ll throw a napkin in my face again”.

Shouto raises both hands to his cheeks and gently presses his fingers into the reddened cheeks with some sort of awe. He wants to pinch Katsuki’s cheeks too. He wants to know how soft and silky her pale skin is. He wants to know so much. So much to the point in which he stands up and stretches one hand out to pinch Katsuki’s left cheek. He should’ve expected the punch that then came slamming in his face from Katsuki. He sees both their fathers stand up, alarmed and the timing could not have been better with mains coming in.

Things settle with the addition of food; the half-baked articles and photos are placed back into the envelope and away from the table as they dig into the main for the night. Shouto is reminded of how much he loves seafood. He glances up at Katsuki who is back in her seat and eating without a word. He thinks that the gap is quite enticing. He likes the loud Katsuki who is demanding and somewhat a firecracker, he also likes kadouka Katsuki who is elegant and passionate. Shouto also likes the current Katsuki who is currently fixated on food and too busy eating to bicker with anyone else at the table.

When Shouto feels a kick to his leg, he is already looking at Katsuki. Katsuki slowly brings her gaze up to hold Shouto’s own. Shouto is 100% sure that the one who had kicked him was Katsuki. It sure felt like her boot. He’s expecting Katsuki to say something like stop staring at me you creep, because it’s his number one worry whenever he realises that he’s ogling Katsuki. Which of course, is very often.

But that’s not what Katsuki says.

“Do you not like seafood?” Katsuki asks, frowning. Shouto can see her jog through her memory of all the times they’ve had seafood together, and it’s often enough. The frown deepens and Shouto knows that Katsuki can’t remember a meal in which Shouto has shown that he doesn’t like seafood. And that makes sense, because he doesn’t dislike seafood. He likes it if he must choose.

“I like it, why?” This time it’s Shouto who frowns, “did you want to come back here next week?”

Katsuki grunts and shakes her head, “you’re not eating”.

“Oh”, Shouto looks down at his portion of the main and Katsuki is wrong, he is eating, just slower than everyone else because he’s busy. Busy staring at Katsuki.

“Shouto are you feeling unwell?” Enji asks, concern lacing through his tone.

“No”, Shouto replies with a confident nod at his father, he then turns his gaze back to Katsuki and picks up one of his pufferfish sashimi between his chopsticks, “here you like this, right?” Shouto passes the pufferfish to Katsuki who takes it with a miffed look, still chewing on her rice. She nods as thanks; her gratitude is not verbalised.

“Katsuki, if all you wanted was pufferfish, you should’ve just asked dad”, Masaru says.

Katsuki grunts.

“Izuku-kun already spoils you so much”, Mitsuki sighs, “and now Todoroki-kun is spoiling you too”.

Katsuki gives her mother a look of disgust.

“I don’t mind”, Shouto says, “Katsuki is good company after all”.

Even Katsuki rolls her eyes at the comment.

As the dishes for main is taken away and dessert comes in to clean their palate, the documents come back out on the table and the parents discuss the contents, again.

“And you’re sure you’re not dating each other?” Enji asks for the nth time that night as he looks at his son and the partner he’s rumoured to be in a romantic relationship with.

Shouto shakes his head. Katsuki sighs.

“Because this article is saying that you two have had dinner together every day for the last month”, Enji elaborates, “it doesn’t seem to be just gossip with the accompanied photos”.

Shouto winces. Katsuki looks at her parents and gives them a shrug, “Deku’s friend”.

“Katsuki had some flowers to tend to at mine, it was just convenient to have dinner together, since I’m rarely at home during the day and Katsuki has work”, Shouto explains as simply as he can, “it just so happened that way”.

Katsuki nods once for confirmation. Shouto knows that Katsuki isn’t always amicable, but the times she is, he finds it acts as a booster for him.

“O-iemoto knew about this?” Mitsuki questions Katsuki immediately, catching on that Katsuki had arranged flowers for Todoroki’s apartment.

Shouto perks up at the word iemoto. He knows that it’s not public knowledge which house Katsuki is under, which iemoto she serves. There have been opinions, comments and a lot of speculation, but none of the houses have come out to confirm that Katsuki belongs to their house. In competitions, she represents the anonymous. Some fans have even said that Katsuki is her own iemoto, that she had started kadou by herself without any guidance. Shouto doubts this theory. He wants to ask, he wants to know, he is greedy for knowledge of Katsuki in which the public does now know. But he knows that he isn’t in the position to ask as the person in the latest scandal Katsuki is involved in with together. Maybe if his identity was purely friend, he’d feel more comfortable asking.

Katsuki clicks her tongue, “didn’t ask, didn’t tell”.

Mitsuki sighs, “don’t come running to me when he finds out and isn’t happy with you”.

“He’s too controlling”, Katsuki clicks her tongue, “serves him right for trying to tell me what to do”.

Masaru and Mitsuki both sigh and shake their heads.

Shouto hadn’t realised that Katsuki needed to get permission from the iemoto for all her works. But it sure sounded like that that was the case.

“If all your fans knew that you’re such a brat…”, Mitsuki raises her eyebrows at her daughter, “it won’t just be o-iemoto with a headache”.

Masaru places a comforting hand on his wife’s shoulder before giving his daughter an encouraging smile.

“I’m Katsuki’s number one fan”, Shouto proclaims, “and I still wait for her work with excitement”. Despite knowing Katsuki’s crass and sometimes rather violent tendencies… he still really liked her works.

Rei raises her eyebrows at that, she definitely did not know of her son’s obsessions.

“That’s Deku”, Katsuki replies without missing a beat as she stabs at her dessert.

“No”, Masaru objects, “Papa is your number one fan”.

Katsuki rolls her eyes and then stuffs a hand on her father’s face and pushes him away, “shut up, you’re the old hag’s fan”.

“Mama is my wife”, Masaru corrects, “and I can be both your fan”.

“Whatever”, Katsuki goes back to her food but only for a little bit before she looks back at Shouto, “Deku is my number one fan, so you can’t be”, she reiterates.

“Number two?” Shouto asks, voice slightly miffed.

Katsuki jerks her head towards her father and then her mother. “Why do you want to be number two anyway?”

Good point. Shouto bites his lips.

“Maybe you can be my lackey after all, since you’re Deku’s friend”, Katsuki humours herself.

Shouto shakes his head.

Dinner ends with both families deciding to buy the gossip again, since it isn’t true and all four of them wanted to keep Katsuki’s reputation clean. Shouto wonders again why Midoriya is safe with Katsuki, wonders why they’re not targeted as a couple by the media. Though he supposes it only works in his favour, since there is no one it seems, who knows and can work with Katsuki better than Midoriya. If Shouto had to choose a love rival, Midoriya is the one.

Midoriya who is recognised by the person herself as Katsuki’s number 1 fan. By now, Shouto doesn’t doubt it. A spot in which even Katsuki’s parents can’t take, there’s no way Shouto will be able to take that spot. But, perhaps that’s for the better, because Shouto can tell that Katsuki is not romantically interested in Midoriya.

The parents suggest to the two that it may be a good idea to keep things down low. Especially since they’re apparently not friends or dating. Because obviously it isn’t a good idea to have to continually fork out money to buy all the photos and keep them both – but mainly Katsuki – out of the gossip column.

“You’re not even 20”, Mitsuki scowls and whacks the underside of her daughter’s head lightly, “I don’t want to hear more about you going around to a boy’s house every night again”.

Shouto feels very self-conscious. He thinks if he wasn’t aware of his attraction to Katsuki, then he wouldn’t be feeling like this, the dips of guilt within him.

Katsuki scowls back, “it’s just Deku’s friend, and I’m there with Deku”. She shrugs off her mother’s implication like they’re snowflakes on her shoulder. Not even a bother.

Shouto sends Katsuki’s parents what he hopes is a very innocent smile.

Midoriya comes perfectly on time to pick Katsuki up and escort her back to their home. Shouto shares a brief greeting with his best friend whilst Katsuki hurriedly takes Midoriya’s jacket off and wraps herself in it without care. Midoriya is definitely use to it as he shrugs off his coat and is wearing knitwear underneath – he definitely dressed warmly knowing Katsuki was going to grab at his coat. Shouto sees Katsuki button up with his peripheral vision and he hates the jealousy that skims across the surface of his skin.

Shouto’s chauffeur was waiting for him. He gives the chauffeur a nod, but he makes sure his mother gets into her car safely with his father before he heads back to his designated chauffeur. But not before he turns around to watch Katsuki walk back with Midoriya. He can see from his viewpoint the chatter they were having, mouths moving animatedly, he was jealous, when he watched Katsuki raise her leg slightly to knee Midoriya’s backside, he was really jealous.

The recognition of the jealousy only makes Shouto hate it. Even though he has had an exponential increase of conversations with Katsuki, he still can’t say that he knows her very well, not to the point where he is comfortable with being jealous of his best friend. But he really, really likes her.

Churning between work and more work, Shouto goes through the days. He meets up with Iida for dinner a few nights after – Midoriya was busy, as expected. A few nights after that, he meets up with Katsuki and Midoriya for dinner as promised the week before.

Perhaps it’s what was discussed at the Michelin starred seafood restaurant roughly one week ago, because Katsuki joins them for dinner with a cap and sunglasses, her mouth is shut and she looks inconspicuous by herself, but it’s obviously her with Midoriya stuck to her side. Once the private room is shut, Katsuki takes off her disguise and complains.

“Oi, half-ass, why do you look like that?” Katsuki scowls.

Shouto knows his eyes linger on her long legs clad in stockings. Her short pastel pink skirt draws his eyes in. “I don’t look any different”, Shouto states.

“Exactly!” Katsuki humphs and takes a seat, “did your parents not tell you to keep a low profile?

Down low”, Shouto corrects and shrugs, “you’re the celebrity… so, well…”

“Are you serious!?” Katsuki looks bewildered, “Todoroki Enji’s golden son is not a celebrity!?”

Midoriya laughs hesitantly on the side and tries to calm Katsuki down in his own way. She brushes him off.

“You’re right”, Shouto raises his hands in defence, “I will keep a low profile when I meet you next”. He still doesn’t believe that he’s a celebrity, not many people know his face after all. Sure, they know his father’s face, and know that he has children, but to know Todoroki Shouto’s face, it’s uncommon. Maybe when he’s an adult, and into the workforce properly, his face may become more well known then.

“You better”, Katsuki crosses her arms and tilts her chin up and then turns to look at Midoriya and tells him exactly what she thinks of his friend as though Todoroki Shouto himself was not sitting opposite her. He realises that she’s… doing it on purpose. It’s also when Shouto notices that he doesn’t rile Katsuki as much or try to bicker with her with Midoriya’s presence there. It perhaps helps that Midoriya makes him feel calm. Perks of a good best friend.

Most likely, Shouto muses, it’s because he knows that despite what Katsuki says, Midoriya is not her nerdy lackey or just her personal photographer. He’s her childhood friend. One who respects Katsuki immensely and knows full well her worth. Shouto knew of Midoriya’s protectiveness over Katsuki before he even met Katsuki herself. Shouto isn’t afraid to remind himself that Midoriya loves Katsuki in his own way, and that there’s a high chance that Midoriya wouldn’t hesitate to dismiss all his friends for Katsuki.

Shouto wonders if Katsuki knows that herself. Because maybe that’s why she’s been keen on meeting up with Midoriya’s friends. Or well, friend. Perhaps it’s Katsuki’s own way of showing how much she also treasures the relationship she has with Midoriya by interacting with his friends, to give Midoriya the chance to do so instead of waiting at her beck and call 24/7.

At the moment, Shouto can’t see himself in a romantic relationship with Katsuki, especially with how clingy the two childhood friends are with each other. And he’s not quite stable himself, he isn’t ready for a relationship, he knows that, but if it’s with Katsuki, he would love to put all his efforts in and try with her. He wants to pamper her and he wants her to pamper him. He would love to take her out to eat and cook at home together. He wants to be there when she is working her magic, to watch it in process again and again.

“What are you doing April 11th, Todoroki-kun?” Midoriya asks Shouto.

“Hm?” Shouto scratches his head lightly as he takes out his phone and goes through his phone, “I have work”, he replies when he finds the date on his calendar.

“Me too”, Katsuki says as she taps her fingers against the table. Shouto’s eyes immediately goes to look at Katsuki and he feels like her beauty is extra appealing whilst she’s lounging around and picking at her food slowly.

“Don’t you have work most days?” Shouto asks, knowing full well that he is right, Midoriya still keeps him posted after all. He’s still recording radio shows and TV shows after all.

“I’ve been invited to the Empress Shouken Memorial at Meiji Jingu that day”, Katsuki elaborates, “to remember and honour her, a part of it includes ikebana”.

Midoriya fiddles with his fingers, continually glancing at Katsuki, “so Kacchan will be there in the morning, and well, we thought you might be interested in coming along to watch?”

Shouto’s eyes light up. He is definitely interested to go and watch. “I will try to take time off”.

Midoriya smiles at him. Katsuki looks away.

Shouto hopes that Midoriya’s smile is a smile of approval. He doubts it. He’s just helping out a fan who also happens to be his friend.

“I’ll have to finish before the ceremony starts at 10am”, Katsuki speaks without looking Shouto in the face, “so you probably only need to take time off until then”. Katsuki then looks at Shouto, “unless you’re staying the whole day”.

Shouto nods. University would’ve started by then, he guesses he can just take the morning off and make up for the hours after classes one day. “I’ll be there in the morning to watch”.

A small smile makes it to Katsuki’s face as she looks away again.

They meet up again the week after, this time, Shouto makes sure to cover his face with a surgical mask and a cap as well. He feels like such a suspicious person with his mirrored sunglasses, walking around like that at night. He swears he’s getting strange looks from people and that he’s attracting more attention than not.

“Who cares if the punters are staring at you”, Katsuki lectures him, “you don’t want to catch the attention of the paparazzi!”

“They know where I live”, Shouto reasons and then realises there’s a simple solution…

“Move then!” Katsuki shakes her head. Shouto is sure that her shaking fist wants to land on his face.

But it’s really not that simple. He’s on a contract, moving requires money, time and effort.

“Sorry, Todoroki-kun”, Midoriya says.

Shouto wonders whether Midoriya is apologising for not being his roommate, for playing a part in his meeting with Katsuki, for not being able to defend him, for not being able to keep Katsuki from continually probing and demanding from him… there is a whole pile.

But it’s fine, because in the end, he likes knowing Katsuki, he likes watching her in her kimono on variety shows, he likes flipping through magazines and admiring her art, he enjoys listening to her on the radio, he likes going out for meals with her. He likes it all. “That’s fine”.

“Then don’t complain, half-ass”, Katsuki scrunches her nose distastefully.

“Actually, if anything, aren’t you the half-ass?” Shouto musters some courage and asks, “I mean surely the media will find it easy to follow you around even if you disguise yourself, with Midoriya bright and there next to you all the time”.

“Eh”, Midoriya immediately sits up straight and frantically looks between Katsuki and Shouto, “hold on, Kacchan, don’t be upset, Todoroki-kun didn’t mean it like that, what he meant to say-”

“I know what he meant!” Katsuki snaps and pushes Midoriya’s worried flaying hands from her face, “and why would I be upset, he’s insulting you, not me”

“Eh? Kacchan, that’s mean, you should be upset for me”, Midoriya frowns.

“I should be upset at you, nerd!” Katsuki lightly pushes at Midoriya’s shoulder, but the shoulder doesn’t even budge.

In the end, the conversation is pushed aside and Shouto watches as Midoriya orders for himself and Katsuki again before Shouto informs dully what he wants to the waitress.

“What?” Katsuki glares at Midoriya, “is she your type, Deku?”

“What?” Midoriya shakes his head and then looks at Katsuki with a shocked expression, “what, who?”

“The waitress”, Katsuki hisses and leans in to make sure Midoriya understands what he was saying. Shouto thinks about what the waitress looked like, light brown hair, long straight waist length hair… and her face? He can’t quite remember that far. Had he known that that was Midoriya’s type, he would’ve looked.

“Eh? Wh-why, no-no-n-no, w-what?” Midoriya stammers his way through, “what would make you say that, Kacchan?”

“You just thought she’s cuter than me”, Katsuki folds her arms at her chest.

“N-no!” Midoriya holds up both his hands and Shouto supresses a laugh on his end, he knows that look, flustered and panicking. Very typical of Midoriya.

“Really?” Katsuki narrows her eyes at Midoriya.

“Honest!” Midoriya says with a confident nod, his hands still waving and denying Katsuki’s accusations, “though I did perhaps think that maybe Kacchan will look nice-nicer with longer hair?”

Katsuki leans back and frowns, “my hair is a good length!” She holds some of her shoulder length hair and rubs it between her fingers. Miffed, Katsuki pouts and then looks at Shouto, “do I look better with longer hair?” Katsuki plays with her hair with both her hands.

Shouto can’t stop the blush that immediately rises through his face. If he were to be honest, he hasn’t seen anyone who looks better than Katsuki. And he’s seen a lot of girls in his life. Most of the time, at company dinner parties. And maybe Midoriya wasn’t exactly exaggerating when he said that Todoroki-kun was the prince back in school. “I think you’re beautiful”, Shouto says honestly, his voice is a little higher than he remembers it.

Katsuki’s mouth opens slightly but nothing comes out. Her expression falls from peeved to expressionless as she stares at Shouto. No snarky words or bite coming out of her.

“Ka-Kacchan”, there is hesitance in Midoriya’s words.

Shouto takes it all as a positive sign, “whether it’s with you hair like that”, Shouto draws out the slight curl in of the end of Katsuki’s hair in the air, “when you have all your hair pulled back”, Shouto remembers the night Katsuki was in a kimono with her hair up and working her magic with the flowers in his apartment, “whether you have above shoulder hair or waist length hair…”, Shouto gulps loudly and licks his lips out of nervousness, “I think you’re beautiful.” Shouto stares straight at Katsuki.

Katsuki blinks several times but doesn’t stop looking at Shouto. Shouto offers Katsuki a shaky smile and watches as she turns red. It makes him flush even more.

“Kacchan!” Midoriya says loudly before he leaps over and cups Katsuki’s cheeks within his palms and squeezes hard. The effect is immediate. Katsuki’s gaze is immediately turned away from Shouto and directed to Midoriya’s hard gaze.

“Deku! You!” Katsuki growls out as she grips Midoriya’s wrists tightly and tugs. Shouto knows that Midoriya lets Katsuki remove his hands. Midoriya was well known for having a strong grip in high school, he won all the arm wrestles too.

“Kacchan! You know you’re stunning”, Midoriya reassures Katsuki, “you don’t need to feel insecure and ask someone else”, Midoriya sends Shouto a quick glance he can’t decipher.

“Stuff you Deku!” Katsuki punches Midoriya in the shoulder again and then gives him the finger, “I’m not insecure!”

Shouto watches as Midoriya skilfully calms Katsuki down by riling her up. It was originally a strange sight, but it’s not something he has gotten use to. He is slightly thankful that Midoriya had distracted Katsuki because it now gives him time to calm down and cover the flush on his face. On the other hand, he had wanted to continue staring at Katsuki’s soft face. He’d definitely be dreaming about her expression. Katsuki in general. Really.

When the waitress comes back in, Shouto looks directly at Katsuki and gives her a smile. She sends a nasty glare back. Shouto laughs to himself when he realises that Midoriya had kept his head down and at the table the whole time. Katsuki’s hmph! resonates through their private room, and Midoriya only looks up and at Katsuki with a cheeky grin when the door closes, indicating that the waitress has left the room.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya’s grin widens, “happy?”

Katsuki glances at Midoriya, but she doesn’t say anything about Midoriya or the waitress as she instead looks at the food and indicates that it’s time to eat, “itadakimasu”.

The next day, Shouto is lounging around in his bath after a long day at work when his phone rings. Flustered, Shouto quickly steps out of his bath, dries his hand and then picks up the phone.

Midoriya Izuku is the name that flashes on his phone.

Confused as to why his best friend is calling him, Shouto hesitates a little before he answers the call.

“Mido-”, Shouto starts but is interrupted.

“About time you picked up you half-ass!” Comes Katsuki’s voice from the other end of the phone.

“Ka-Katsuki!?” Shouto stammers through, he definitely did not expect Katsuki to be calling him with Midoriya’s phone. Immediately, his thoughts turn for the worst and his concern sky-rockets. “Is everything okay? Are you okay? Is Midoriya okay?” He shoots one question after another in rapid-fire.

“Shut up”, Katsuki’s snarl is evident and Shouto can just imagine her giving him her fingers, “I’m coming over in half an hour, so you better be at home”.

“What?” Shouto is confused, his heart races immediately, but before he can press for more information, Katsuki hangs up. Immediately Shouto calls back and he lets out a breath of relief when someone answers the phone.

“Stop calling me”, Katsuki growls out, “you better be ready to open the door in half an hour”. She hangs up again before Shouto can even get a word out.

Shouto stares at his phone with disbelief. He wonders if it’s an emergency, wonders what Midoriya is thinking with all of this going on. He messages Midoriya on LINE for an explanation. Midoriya doesn’t read the message. Shouto can only assume that that means he’s other preoccupied with Katsuki or Katsuki is still holding onto Midoriya’s phone. Both thoughts leaves Shouto feeling rather sour. At least Katsuki is coming over.

Oh.

Blushing, Shouto quickly drains his bath, gives it a quick rinse before he towel dries himself and puts some clothes on. He takes in his laundry that’s lying around in the lounge room and dumps it into his bedroom and tries to lean the living area, making sure none of his underwear is hanging off chairs trying to dry and what not.

A buzz rings through his ears alerting him that someone is calling his apartment. Shouto heads to the intercom and sees Katsuki’s face glaring at him – the camera.

“Hurry up”, Katsuki spits out, she leans back a little and Shouto can see that her arms are crossed. He imagines she’s also tapping her feet.

“Just a second”, Shouto says before pressing the button that’ll open the doors for Katsuki to enter.

It takes Katsuki less than a minute to make her way to Shouto’s apartment, her heels clicking against the floor of the corridor alerts Shouto and he’s already at the door opening it when she walks straight in.

“Where’s Midoriya?” Shout asked, confused and sticking his head out of his door, looking for his best friend.

“How’d I know?” Katsuki grunts as she takes off her laced boots at the genkan and then casually walks right into Shouto’s apartment. Its not like she’s never been. In fact, she’s been plenty over the last 2 months.

“But-”, Shouto begins, “you have his phone? And he’s always with you”.

“No, he isn’t”, Katsuki grimaces, “that’s gross”.

Shouto frown and closes the door, making sure it’s locked. He walks into his apartment to see Katsuki already in the kitchen boiling water and making herself a cup of tea.

“Are you… running away?” Shouto asks, still confused as to why Katsuki is here in his apartment, all by herself.

“Huh!?” Katsuki sounds and looks shocked from the way she twists her body around to look Shouto square in the face, “I never run away! What are you trying to imply?”

Shouto gulps, feels like he’s just stepped on a landmine. He suddenly feels very inclined to believe that Katsuki is running away from something, he just hopes that he isn’t dragged into deep shit with Katsuki lounging around his home. Shouto knows that her schedule is free for the rest of the day – thank you Midoriya as always, but, that doesn’t mean he thinks she should be here when she’s usually under such strict surveillance from her childhood friend…

“Does Midoriya know you’re here?” Shouto asks ignoring Katsuki’s bristling complaints about listening to what she’s saying.

“He’s probably had it all figured out by now, that nerd!” Katsuki sighs in annoyance as she keeps her hands – small – around her mug, warming them up.

“Figured it out?” Shouto is becoming increasingly concerned, “you… really are running from something”

“I said I’m not”, Katsuki gives Shouto an unimpressed look, “so I’m not, don’t make me repeat myself”.

“If you’re having a problem”, Shouto takes a seat opposite Katsuki at his dining table, with his own mug of tea, “maybe I can help”.

Katsuki opens her mouth, about to say something, Shouto assumes it would’ve been along the lines of if you want to help, then shut up. But Shouto beats her to it and continues, “you’re here already”.

Grimacing, Katsuki removes her hands from the porcelain mug and hen tucks her arms under each other.

A part of Shouto wants to feel over the moon for having Katsuki choose to come to his place when she was in some sort of dilemma, it made him feel reliable and important to her. Another part of Shouto felt like he needed to find a way to alert Midoriya, because he doesn’t want to put strain on their relationship, he knows how much he cares for Katsuki, and if she really up and left with his phone and without telling him, he’s sure that Midoriya would surely be in panic mode.

Katsuki doesn’t say anything, and neither does Shouto, they sit in silence – not comfortable or uncomfortable – except for the sipping of their tea.

Not too long after, Shouto gets a LINE call from Midoriya. He sits his phone on the table with Midoriya’s name on the screen, the sound of the call rings through his apartment. Shouto looks at Katsuki to see her reaction.

“He logged in elsewhere to call you, that nerd”, Katsuki mutters and turns away from the phone. Shouto takes that it means he will pick up. He pops his phone on speaker.

“Todoroki-kun, sorry for the sudden call, did Kacchan contact you today?”

“Yes”, Todoroki answers honestly, his eyes trained on Katsuki.

“Oh good”, Midoriya’s voice goes from super panicked to just panicked, “is she by any chance with you at the moment?”

“Yes”, Shouto answers again, “she’s sitting in my living room drinking tea”.

“I’m so sorry, Todoroki-kun!” Midoriya apologises.

Shouto feels funny hearing that, “there’s nothing for you to apologise for, Katsuki is good company”.

Katsuki raises one elegant eyebrow, her eyes unblinking as she turned to stare at Shouto.

“I’ll come pick her up soon, I’ll be there in half an hour”, Midoriya says quickly.

Shouto isn’t sure why but he ha hoped somewhere deep within that Katsuki could’ve stayed longer. He wanted to talk more to her.

“Shut up, Deku!” Katsuki calls out before swiping the end call button. She then takes Shouto’s phone as well and keeps it on her side of the table.

“Um…”, Shouto looks at his phone and then at Katsuki.

“What?” Katsuki shoots him an annoyed glance.

“That’s my phone”, Shouto points out the obvious.

“Clearly”, Katsuki rolls her eyes. And just as she says that, Shouto’s phone lights up again with Midoriya calling. Immediately, Katsuki glares at it and swipes the cancel call button, she then turns the phone on mute and places it face down on the table in the middle, “Deku is so bloody annoying”.

Shouto purses his lips and shrugs, he leaves his phone alone, instead, opting to sip at his tea. Midoriya is coming over anyway, and they both know just how jittery Katsuki is. Plus, it’s not like Shouto needs to desperately be on his phone, especially if Katsuki is before him. Even if they’re not really conversing. He never imagined that there’d be so much silence between them when they were left alone. This definitely was not what Shouto imagined his first conversation with Katsuki alone would be like.

“You weren’t wearing a disguise”, Shouto points out to try and make conversation, “the paparazzi will catch you coming to mine again”.

Katsuki shrugs, “I don’t care”.

Shouto raises one eyebrow, he isn’t too sure about how much truth is in that statement, “our parents will make a fuss out of it again and money will have to be spent again”.

“Not necessarily”, Katsuki says.

And Shouto isn’t stupid, he knows what Katsuki is saying – just don’t pay for it - but he wonders if she fully understands the implications of such articles being published, a nineteen-year-old girl, not even a woman yet, visiting the apartment of a male at night. They’re not good implications. “Your image, Katsuki, would be tarnished”. He knows it’s important. Because it’s part of her selling point, her innocence, purity to sell the amazing pieces of work she creates with each flower and leaf that passes through her fingers. To share with everyone else the beauty in the art of ikebana. To captivate all the viewers… it was deadly.

Shouto would say that he isn’t a fan of art, traditional or not. There was just something about Katsuki’s art, he found absolutely captivating. It helped that Katsuki herself was very pleasing to the eye. Perhaps that was the main reason. He won’t deny that he felt like he understood so many words the flowers were speaking to him. He could see the back story and understand exactly where it was all coming for. Shouto never knew that was possible with kadou, until Katsuki walked into his life.

“Image, image, image”, Katsuki shakes her head, “that’s all they ever talk about and now you are too”, she stands from her seat, her mug of tea wobbles slightly on the table a little from the impact. “That’s all you guys ever want, image, image, image!”

Shouto sits at the table stunned, and not for a good reason.  He isn’t sure why Katsuki is so fired up, he assumes that whatever made her upset enough to come running to his apartment with Midoriya’s phone is also one of the roots feeding her anger. “Katsuki, what, we’re, I think we’re all looking out for you”.

Katsuki rolls her eyes and groans, “We? What about you?

“What about me?” Shouto frowns and asks, he stands up from his seat too and approaches Katsuki – she doesn’t move from her spot, rooted there and stares straight up at Todoroki with challenging eyes. He doesn’t understand. He isn’t Katsuki’s parents, he isn’t Katsuki’s – whatever Midoriya is to her – he’s just, he doesn’t even know what he is to Katsuki. An odd friend, perhaps. He’s unsure, should he, should he ask her? Would that make him look stupid? Is this something that even needs defining? It’s not like he’s insecure about it, he isn’t worried about it until he tries to define it to placate the bomb that just landed in his face. Because it may be necessary?

“Seriously”, Katsuki throws her arms in the air and then she takes a step forward and goes into Shouto’s personal space. Her smaller stature and petite form doesn’t make her any less menacing, “are you messing with me right now?”

“No”, Shouto denies straight away, he doesn’t move back and remove Katsuki out of his personal space, “why would you-”, but Shouto doesn’t get to finish his sentence when a loud buzz rings through his ears. Someone is ringing his apartment. It takes both their attention, they both turn their eyes to the intercom. Shouto walks over to the intercom and answers it.

“Oh, Midoriya”, Shouto is slightly surprised to see Midoriya already there, “I’ll let you in”. He glances at the clock on his wall and realises it definitely has not been 30 minutes.

“Bloody Deku”, Katsuki grumbles out mostly to herself before she sits herself down back on the chair and nurses her tea again.

Shouto stares at Katsuki for a bit before he steps back towards his seat on the opposite side of Katsuki, he also sits down and nurses his own tea. He thinks there’s some miscommunication between them, but he isn’t sure how to bring it up without offending Katsuki. And he’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to bring it up with Midoriya around, he isn’t sure how Midoriya will react, he knows that Midoriya will 100% be on Katsuki’s side though. Todoroki thinks that he’s already on Katsuki’s side. He’d tell her if she is wrong, but still on her side.

Perhaps it’s possible for him to say something before Midoriya makes his way up to his apartment. “Katsuki”, Shouto starts to catch the other’s attention.

“What?” Katsuki says roughly as she looks up and goes back to staring at Shouto.

Shouto finds his words caught in his throat. Nothing comes out as he continues staring at Katsuki.

The silence and staring clearly gets to Katsuki and irritates her when her frown deepens and she snaps out. “What!? Have you never seen someone as beautiful as me before?”

It’s the same question again. From when he met Katsuki that night with their parents. Shouto learns quickly that this is probably a defensive question for her. He doesn’t know what the appropriate answer here is. He isn’t even sure how he could answer without making Katsuki feel offended or uncomfortable. He isn’t sure what it is, the little amount in which they have between them, but he wants to be honest with her. And this question she has asked, it’s dead easy to answer with honesty. There is no shame involved.

“No”, Shouto answers honestly, his answer still unchanged, and is glad that something left his mouth. He watches as Katsuki’s eyes widen and her face flush red, she shoots right up and stumbles backwards in embarrassment. It was cute even as he watched her splutter. She really is stunning. She really is a goddess.

“Wh-wha-what!?” Katsuki doesn’t screech, nor is she mortified. She covers her face with her hands, eyes peeking out as she continues to stare at Shouto as though Shouto were not real. “Are you stupid!?”

Once again, Shouto is interrupted when his doorbell rings again. Shouto gets out of his chair and walks towards his front door to open the door for Midoriya. And it is indeed Midoriya.

Midoriya looks puffed – Shouto doesn’t doubt that Midoriya ran all the way here, he also doesn’t doubt that maybe Midoriya already knew that Katsuki would be at his place from the very start. “Todoroki-kun, thank you and so sorry, is Kacchan ready to go?”

Shouto could hear the ridiculous in the sentence even as Midoriya said it, as Midoriya moved to enter the apartment, and Shouto let him, he already knew that Midoriya only said that as a front, he knew that Midoriya also knew that no Kacchan is not ready to leave.

When both Shouto and Midoriya find Katsuki curled up on Shouto’s couch hugging one of the cushions, Shouto isn’t sure what to say. It’s a Katsuki he hasn’t seen before. Her bright red eyes peek out from the top edge of the cushion, her eyebrows furrowing, her long blond locks pool and falls of her shoulder so nicely that Shouto almost can feel the gentle waves it gives. He feels his stare might be steadily becoming more and more perverse.

Midoriya dumps his bag on the side – Shouto doesn’t mind – and then he immediately goes up to Katsuki and kneels next to the couch, right beside her, “Kacchan”, Midoriya’s voice is soft and gentle, it’s a tone Shouto isn’t use to hearing come pass Midoriya’s lips.

Kacchan doesn’t even grunt to acknowledge Midoriya.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya tries again, “you can’t stay here all night, Todoroki-kun needs to sleep too eventually”.

Shouto can tell that Midoriya is use to dealing with this kind of Katsuki – sulking. He doesn’t make any excessive movement that may scare Katsuki who put her in an even more defensive mood. Shouto feels that she may lash out in defence.

“I promise it’ll work out”, Midoriya continues to persuade Katsuki, “so let’s go home first?”

“Don’t tell me what to do”, Katsuki hisses out and sticks out a leg to kick Midoriya on the shoulder – Midoriya doesn’t even budge. Shouto watches on and he knows it’s perverse for him to think that in the current situation that he wishes that it was him that Katsuki was kicking. He hopes he doesn’t dream about it tonight – if he gets any sleep at all.

“Okay Kacchan”, Midoriya nods, “I won’t tell you what to do, but that means you can’t run away like this again”.

It felt like Shouto was watching a parent lecture their child gently. It was a strange sight. His heart stops when Katsuki looks away from Midoriya to look at him, but it was only for a second before she averted her gaze back at Midoriya.

“Die”, is all Katsuki says before he buries her head into the cushion, “stupid”.

Midoriya smiles and then stands up, “I’ll make you dinner tonight”.

“No”, Katsuki says, her voice muffled in the cushion, “you’re shit in the kitchen, I’m not going to suffer through food poisoning”.

“You won’t die”, Midoriya sighs dramatically, “the last time I made you oysters, it was decent, no?”

Katsuki pulls the cushion from her face and gives Midoriya a judgemental look. “They were meant to be eaten raw, Deku, you squeezed lemon on it, that’s barely cooking”.

Midoriya shrugs and takes this chance to remove the cushion from Katsuki’s hold and then place it beside her, “let’s go?”

“I’m tired”, Katsuki looks away, “I’m comfortable here, I think I may just stay here”.

“Eh? Kacchan?” Midoriya freezes in his spot, “Todoroki-kun has work tomorrow, you can’t sleep here”.

“I’ll sleep in his room”, Katsuki says boldly, “he can sleep out here, I won’t wake up that way”.

“What?” Shouto says. He is definitely not ready. Just the thought of Katsuki sleeping at his place, in his room, in his bed is very tantalising. Too much honestly.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya says seriously.

Katsuki sighs and throws the cushion she was holding, it lands right on Shouto’s face and he shakes his head to rid of the stupor he’s in. He did not expect Midoriya and Katsuki’s conversation to be like this, and he definitely did not expect a cushion in his face. “Give me a piggy back home, half-ass”, Katsuki demands. She doesn’t move from the couch.

Shouto blinks at Katsuki, trying to process what she just asked from him. At least it seems like she has given up on sleeping over. Shouto’s mind goes wild. He can see how inappropriate it is for him to piggy back Katsuki home tonight. The paparazzi will have a field day. Night. And Katsuki is in a mini skirt, there’s no way he will piggy back her whilst she’s in a skirt, at least, not without something to shield her from the world. Knowing Midoriya, he’s probably packed a disguise in his backpack for Katsuki, he won’t be surprised if Midoriya pulls out a spare coat for her either. But that’s not the point.

“Kacchan”, Midoriya says with a warning tone, “O-iemoto will be furious”.

Katsuki clicks her tongue. “Fine, whatever”, she stands up and crosses her arms before sticking her tongue out at Midoriya.

Shouto is further convinced that the iemoto has great influence over Katsuki. Her parents and now Midoriya have brought up the title of iemoto to put pressure on Katsuki. And it has worked, both times. He wonders what kind of person the iemoto is. A goddess just like Katsuki? The thought makes Shouto’s heart twist strangely, he can’t imagine someone more beautiful than Katsuki. He’s interested to know which kadou house Katsuki belongs to, he wants to know which iemoto she follows. He wants to know whether she bows down to the iemoto or whether she stands confident and tall even under the gaze of the iemoto – the most powerful in the house. It’s an amusing thought.

Katsuki then walks up to Shouto with a pout, strongly, Katsuki grabs a fist full of Shouto’s shirt and yanks it towards herself. “You half-ass, you better be free on April 20th, or you’re dead.”

“Oh. Okay”, Shouto agrees amicably.

Katsuki lets go and glares a little for good measure. She then walks to the dining table and picks up her mug of tea, she finishes it in a few gulps before rinsing it at the sink and then popping it aside to air-dry. Katsuki then wriggles into the coat Midoriya hands her before she is at the genkan putting her shoes on.

“Isn’t the event at Meiji Jingu on April 11th? Not the 20th?” Shouto asks and looks at Midoriya who pockets his phone back.

Midoriya nods affirmatively.

“You really are stupid”, Katsuki turns around to insult Shouto once more before she leaves. She pops on the hat Midoriya hands her and then the sunglasses too – Shouto thinks she looks awfully suspicious to be dressed like so at night, but well, to avoid her face being taken by the paparazzi, there’s no choice. “Keep both days free. The 20th is my birthday, idi~ot”.

“Oh”, Shouto says. He wants to record Katsuki say idi~ot with the deliberate elongation as though he were speaking to another kid, or someone, Shouto hopes it’s this one, he’s fond of. Then he can replay it at will and smile to himself at hearing that cute intonation. It was quite lovely to his ears.

Katsuki takes the surgical face mask from Midoriya and makes sure it covers her own face properly. “See you”. With that, Katsuki leaves through the front door with Midoriya in tow.

“Thank you and sorry, Todoroki-kun”, Midoriya gives Shouto a sheepish smile.

Shouto waves them off with a small smile. When the door clicks shut and he locks it is when Shouto starts panicking. He has never found anywhere Katsuki’s birthdate. Nowhere, no magazine, no interview, no TV show, nothing. Not even the photo books with her art and a small section on her biography have ever listed out her birthdate. He was just let privy into some amazing detail. Shouto celebrates to himself. He immediately notes down the birthday in the calendar on his phone. He takes out his application for leave form and fills it in, knowing that he will have to bring it in and hand it in ASAP. He wants April 20th off, no matter what. And the morning of the 11th, but, the 20th! For sure. He needs to start thinking about what to get for her 20th birthday. He hopes that it won’t keep him up at night.

Shouto definitely feels privileged to know Katsuki’s birthday. He is certain that there are many people who are also fans have no clue apart from her birth year.

“Bakugou-san, how old are you?”

“15 this year”

Shouto liked that the hosts generally referred to Katsuki as Bakugou-san, he could feel the distance she has with the public. He knows that female celebrities, especially ones who have been famous from a young age are often referred to by their first name, Bakugou typically would’ve been Katsuki-chan. Though he supposes there is a level of respect given to those who practice the traditional arts and is well-known for their practice in traditional art.

Katsuki has never stated when her birth month is, or whether it’s in the first half or the second half of the year, but several months can be worked out when one figures out the number Katsuki will be at the end of the year and the year level she is currently in. Which is how Shouto knew that even though they’re in the same year level, Katsuki was born first.

Not that it matters. He hopes that this small difference in age isn’t make or break for his maybe chance with Katsuki. He knows he needs to be deemed as worthy by the parents, by his best friend Midoriya and Katsuki herself. He thinks, it will be difficult for sure. As it should be for someone of Katsuki’s calibre. He thinks he is on the path to be a man worthy of Katsuki. He hopes. He wants to make her happy. He thinks that Katsuki probably makes him happy too. But he won’t know for sure until, well, until they are.

Shouto can’t help but feel that the iemoto of Katsuki’s house will have quite the influence too. It’s somewhat general knowledge that the wise words of the iemoto is the rule. Katsuki is flashy, confident and filled with flair, but she doesn’t obviously go against advice or rules set out by society or her parents. He’s seen the iemoto be brought up a few times, it seems that whatever the iemoto has said is a somewhat ground rule that cages Katsuki in and stops her from blindly following her desires. Shouto doesn’t know much about it so he can’t say for sure whether that restriction is good or bad… for someone like Katsuki.

The next time they meet up, thankfully not in the presence of their parents, also, Katsuki isn’t sulking anymore. She is however, sitting in the guest lounge waiting for him at work… Midoriya beside her with a sheepish smile on her face.

“Took you long enough”, Katsuki grumbles when Shouto steps into the room and looks at his uninvited guests.

“Midoriya, Katsuki, why are you both here?” Shouto asks as he adjusts his suit and takes a seat opposite them, noting that they have both been served tea.

“Your father said that you’d entertain us”, Katsuki answers straight away, she crosses her legs and Shouto can’t help but follow it, he looks back up and sees Katsuki staring right at him, he twitches his nose in slight discomfort. Her expression, unreadable as she judges him.

“I didn’t know you were here for a job”, Shouto straightens up, ready for business. He glances at Midoriya, Midoriya never mentioned anything about them coming to his workplace today, or any mention that Katsuki is presenting her art at his workplace either. He felt slightly betrayed, since he was use to getting all the details of Katsuki’s work life from his best friend.

“Not every month”, Midoriya says as though that explains everything, “but it seems like this was Todoroki-san thought of it again after seeing Kacchan again, so he thought perhaps this time we might want to put something more formal up, a set timetable”.

Shouto frowns, this is definitely not his area of work. He glances at the door, if anything, it’s the work of perhaps the general manager, which is not his role. His frown lessens and is smoothed out when he realises that it doesn’t matter, because it’s not like he can’t organise something like that, it’s easy, really, and if it means he gets to spend more time with Katsuki, he’s happy. And on a professional level too. Not one of we know each other because of our mutual friend Midoriya.

“Kacchan said she’d be fine to have you organise it”, Midoriya says, “and you know how Kacchan is, a rather prickly handful of uncontainable energy-”

Katsuki elbows Midoriya roughly, but Midoriya doesn’t even budge. Shouto isn’t surprised, he knows that Midoriya is at the gym often as a hobby, he imagines Katsuki is too. Since they’re stuck together all the time, and it isn’t hard to imagine Katsuki’s figure underneath her flattering clothing. She’s toned.

“-better to have someone she kind of knows to make all our lives, easier, you know? Saves me the time to explain why kadouka Bakugou Katsuki is… well, like this” Midoriya nods and gently scratches his head, ignoring the indignant squawks and continual rough elbows coming from his childhood friend – which is really a good display of the main point Midoriya was trying to convey.

That makes sense. Shouto nods. He understands. It was a special privilege, but not really. Midoriya was telling him that he’s different, but in no way special. Maybe it was Midoriya’s way of being nice, a friendly reminder that it doesn’t matter if they’re friends, if he likes his Kacchan, even if it’s Todoroki Shouto, still no different to all of Kacchan’s other admirers.

“You do know Kacchan’s working timetable very well”, Midoriya furthers his reasoning, “in fact, the best, after me”.

Shouto nods again. All points making sense to him still. He blames his enthusiasm to be able to help organise Katsuki’s timetable. Not that it needed blaming. It is a privilege. He is ecstatic. He wonders how much it shows on his face and his behaviour.

“S-shall we start with your dates?” Shouto asks.

“What?” Katsuki frowns, arms crossed at her chest, she leans in towards Shouto and peers at him, judging with all her might, “dates?”

“Kacchan, calm down”, Midoriya urges quietly.

“I’m calm, Deku”. Katsuki huffs and physically shakes.

“Do you think my timetable is planned out 6 months ahead or something?” Katsuki leans back and crosses her legs.

Good point. When it’s stated like that it does sound rather ridiculous. Shouto hums for a second and then quickly redevises his plan, “should we go for something like the first Sunday of each season?”

“Once every three months…”, Midoriya mutters to himself as he flips through the calendar in his hands, “the maximum Kacchan will have time to do on a Sunday morning isn’t many, the office is quite large, so it’ll depend on how many they’d like to have light up the workplace, if it was just the foyer, or if in the main offices as well, there’s also the elevators to consider…”, Midoriya starts counting fingers and when he reaches a number, he stops and looks at Katsuki, “Kacchan, Sunday may not be convenient for you”.

“Should we do a weekday instead?” Shouto asks, already wanting to take those words back, he was hoping that she’d be alright with a Sunday, because he’s definitely at work on a Sunday, he’d be able to admire her works fresh on the first day, and maybe catch more than just a glimpse of Katsuki. “Or several days? To spread out the work?”

“Sunday is fine”, Katsuki says, “weekdays are busy with uni and work”, she looks at Shouto and holds his gaze, “as you’d know”.

“No?” Shouto frowns and racks through his memories to see whether he knows that Katsuki is at uni… “Katsuki, you go to uni?”

Katsuki gives Shouto a strange look, “you didn’t know?” She shrugs, “I’m majoring in aeronautical engineering”.

“You’re… what?” Shouto tries to take in this information.

“Isn’t it fitting? Us?” Katsuki grins widely, “I’m majoring in aeronautical engineering and you’re the heir to a multibillion-dollar airline empire”.

Shouto’s heart sinks. Is this the reason as to why he’s been seeing Katsuki so much? Is she approaching him using that knowledge to her advantage?

“I can’t imagine it to be much fun to sit in the office all day though”, Katsuki shrugs, “at least with aerospace, I’m on the ground, working on things…”, she gives Shouto a distasteful look.

“But… what about kadou?” Shouto asks, befuddled.

“What about it?” Katsuki raises one elegant eye brow.

“I thought you were dedicating your life to kadou?” Shouto stammers out.

Katsuki scoffs. “Kadou is my hobby”.

“You’re making a living out of your hobby…”, Shouto is in awe. He… will never see work as a hobby, it is unfortunate, but he can see how someone as bright and vibrant as Katsuki can have her hobby also be her work. It was enviable. But he was so happy at the same time.

Katsuki shrugs again, “gotta make do with what you have. But once I’m officially an aerospace engineer”, Katsuki smiles widely, “I guess kadou will be more of a hobby and less of a job”.

Shouto’s heart continues sinking. Because, does that mean his chances of seeing kadouka Katsuki will decrease rapidly? To a number next to zero? He doesn’t want that, he admires kadouka Katsuki, he’s a big fan. He would be the number 1 fan if it weren’t for Midoriya already taking that spot permanently. Katsuki as an engineer, he knows she’s particular about many specifics, he feels bad for generalising engineers, but he knows their keen attention to detail and curious mind, Katsuki doesn’t fit right in, and she looks so… well, she doesn’t look like what Shouto is use to seeing in the engineers that work under his father. He isn’t sure if that is a good thing or not though.

“And who knows, I might end up in your rival company”, Katsuki continues, a toothy grin lights up on her face, “as one of their aerospace engineers”.

“Or at NASA”, Midoriya mumbles. But Shouto hears it.

“Wait”, Shouto shakes his head lightly, “we, you’re, you didn’t approach me to try and get a job here?” Shouto waves at the empty space of the office, the multibillion-dollar Todoroki airline company.

Katsuki gives Shouto another disgusted look, “as if I’d ever need your connections to get a job”.

Midoriya chuckles lightly, “Todoroki-kun, don’t worry, Kacchan is a hard-working genius, she especially loves fluid mechanics”. He then places an index finger on his lips, indicating for Todoroki to keep all of the above information hush hush from the public.

Clicking her tongue, Katsuki then waves a hand back at Shouto, “so? First Sunday of each season, that’s fine with you? Half-ass?” She tosses her hair lightly when she sits back and Shouto once again finds himself mesmerised – he watches as the strands fall and caress Katsuki’s face. He’s head over heels for her.

“Yes”, Shouto answers confidently, “more than fine”.