“Sensei, how do you write this kanji again? Was it three strokes or four?”
“It's four, Takagaki,” Midoriya replies, turning to redraw the character on the board. “There is a small space here between the second and third strokes." He makes the pause exaggerated to make sure the student understands before finishing the kanji. Dropping the chalk back next to the board, he turns around, facing the class again. “Any other questions?” The deafening silence only a class of teenagers can produce answers him. He hums. “Alright, have a good night everyone.”
The students file out quickly after his dismissal. Midoriya sinks into the chair behind his desk, tilting his head back to stare at the stucco ceiling, eyes tracing along the bumps and crevices. He reaches a hand up above his head, clenching a fist, pose reminiscent of one he made a lot as a child. He's twenty-seven, now, and no closer to his grand dreams of being a hero than he was when he was seven. Midoriya had had to be realistic upon graduating high school. There was no way he could be a hero of the people like All Might. Not as he was.
'Certainly not as I am,' he thinks bitterly, dropping his fist and leaning forward. He has to deliver the stack of reports on his desk to the staff room for the class's regular teacher to grade when they got back from their absence. Midoriya heaves himself to his feet, gathers the papers, and makes his way out of the empty classroom.
Teaching is not, as it turns out, as glamorous as guidance councillors made it out to be.
That's not to say that Midoriya dislikes his job. On the contrary, he enjoys teaching. He likes helping students discover things they didn't know before. Seeing that shine in someone's eye as they learn about something they really love. Being able to lend an ear or a word of advice to a teen who looks like they're struggling.
The major downside, really, is that Midoriya can't seem to find a full time position. After graduating university five years prior, he thought that his life would be in the clear: get a job, get a house, get married, start a family. Cut and dry. He had never considered this part time hell of substitute work. The stress of living paycheck to paycheck, of having to write IOUs for his friends, more often than not, and of being evicted from multiple apartments has taken its toll on the once entirely optimistic man.
Midoriya had never thought much about how his life would turn out past his childhood. As a child, he had dreamed of growing into a man like his hero, Yagi Toshinori, a police sergeant in Tokyo who had saved so many people he had become something of a celebrity. All Might, the papers had dubbed him. A man so strong and capable that you couldn't help but feel safe knowing he was around. The rest of the police force were no slouches, either, and Midoriya had filled many a notebook with anything he could dig up on each of his heroes. From simple stats of height and weight, to more detailed reports about strengths and weaknesses, Midoriya recorded it all. Research, he told himself, for when he too was a police officer.
As he aged, Midoriya began to lag behind the other boys. He was smaller in stature, slimmer, his frame never quite filling out the same as his classmates. When he reached high school, he stood still a handful of centimetres below the next shortest boy. It wasn't a detrimental difference, but as his peers were young, impressionable boys, he suffered for it. Add in his soft spoken nature, as well as his occasional bouts of muttering to himself, lost in thought, and Midoriya made for a prime target of bullies. And most of these bullies answered to one Bakugou Katsuki.
Midoriya had known Bakugou since they were three, going to the same preschool, then all the way up and through high school. Midoriya had idolized Bakugou, not just for his strength, but for his determination. He came off as cocky to most people, but Midoriya knew it was warranted. Bakugou was the kind of boy who would make something of himself, and everyone knew it. That was why if he said a few rude comments to Midoriya in class, teachers would just pretend they hadn't heard. If he pushed Midoriya around on the playground, adults said that he just didn't know his own strength yet. And yet Midoriya kept coming back to him, for years. Looking back now, he can see how poisonous their relationship was, but as a kid, Midoriya had figured it was better to be seen by Bakugou than to fade into the background of his life.
Though that's not to say that Midoriya didn't have any real friends. His three closest friends from high school still play an important part in his life. They are like family to him. Iida; the concerned mother, always keeping everyone out of trouble. Uraraka; the caring sister who isn't afraid to call anyone out on anything. Todoroki; the quiet rock of the group, able to calm any of them no matter the situation. Midoriya isn't sure how he would have made it through without the three of them. He isn't sure how he'd make it through now even. For the last several months, he has been living with Todoroki, renting his couch. Todoroki refused money from the start, as he makes more than enough to get by working at a law firm, but Midoriya is persistent. He also suspects his friend uses the money he gives to buy their shared groceries, rather than towards the rent.
Midoriya slides the door to the staff room open with his toe, hands fully encumbered with paperwork. A smattering of teachers litter the room still, as it is just past the time classes finish. It's a Friday, so most of his colleagues have already gone home to their families to enjoy the weekend. Midoriya's weekend plans consist of cleaning Todoroki's apartment for him (a side effect of his guilt for crashing at his friend's home, rather than by any need of his friend's for him to do it), and maybe, if the weather stays sunny, spending Sunday afternoon at a park. Todoroki's work schedule is hectic, as he's always on call when he's on a case, so concrete plans with him are out. Iida and Uraraka just moved into their new home recently, and are still in the process of unpacking. Uraraka keeps inviting him over, but Midoriya can tell by Iida's face whenever the topic is brought up that he's not ready for outside eyes to see it. Which is fine. Midoriya can totally understand that. He was always self conscious about every apartment he had ever lived in, rarely inviting his friends over.
He sets the stack of papers down with a huff of strain. Tilting his head to the side, he cracks his neck, the soft pop noise echoing around the quiet room. One of the other teachers sends him a disparaging glance and he mumbles a quick apology before grabbing his things and shuffling out of the room. His coat is thrown haphazardly around him as he exits, followed by his messenger bag. Midoriya pulls out his phone to send a quick text to Todoroki, asking if he needs anything while he's on his way home. His friend replies as he arrives at the subway entrance, requesting a coffee, 'if it's not a bother'. Midoriya quirks a smile at the reply. Leave it to Todoroki to still be so polite after all these years. The slight man sends a quick 'can do!!' before slipping his phone away and entering the station.
Todoroki's apartment is about a forty minute train ride from the school Midoriya is currently working at. Not ideal, but he is in no position to complain. He doesn't mind the ride, finding he quite enjoys being on a train. Something about the gentle swaying of the cars, coupled with the quiet murmur of other passengers, soothes him. Midoriya is so lulled he nearly misses his transfer, sending him into a bit of a panic as he mumbles “sorry”s and “excuse me”s to the other passengers on his exit.
He arrives to his correct station ten minutes later, no worse for wear, and hurries into the station's discreet coffee shop. He and Todoroki had discovered it about a month beforehand, and had both become hooked immediately. The elderly couple who own the store have been in the station for longer than Midoriya has been alive, and the experience and care shows in their drinks.
Midoriya pushes the sliding door open, bowing his head slightly upon entering. He hears Mrs. Suou puttering behind the counter, though he can't see her yet.
“Welcome!” she calls out as the door slides shut once more. Moments later, a weathered grey head pops out above the counter, squinting over at him. She smiles. “Ah, Izu-kun, how are you today?”
Midoriya can honestly say he loves the Suou's, even after such a short time knowing them. Mr. Suou is a hardworking man, gruff with a gentle heart, and Mrs. Suou reminds him of every grandmother stereotype he's ever seen, small, plump, and sweet. They balance each other perfectly, he thinks.
“I'm doing well, obasan,” he replies with a smile, “And you?” Mrs. Suou waves her hand dismissively.
“My hip's been aching with all the rain we've been getting recently, but you don't want to hear about that,” she gripes good naturedly. “The usual for you and Shoucchan?”
Midoriya's smile widens as he nods. Todoroki hasn't heard her call him by that particular nickname yet, and he hopes he's there when she does just to see the flush on his friend's face at having such a cute name be given to him. In fact, it's so cute he thinks he might start using it, too. Mrs. Suou is already working on his drinks (an americano for Todoroki and a mocha for him) while he digs out his wallet. He pulls out his last 500 yen coin and places it on the tray as the old woman fixes a sleeve around each cup. She passes him the coffees and his change, and he tucks it away.
“It smells amazing, thank you, obasan,” he praises, bringing his cup to his lips and breathing in the rich scent of coffee and chocolate. Mrs. Suou tuts.
“Don't burn yourself now,” she scolds lightly, levelling Midoriya with a faux glare. He laughs.
“I'll be careful,” he promises, pressing his cup into the carrying tray and turning to leave. The apartment is only a five minute walk from here if he hurries, and he plans to get the coffee home hot.
Midoriya exits the shop quickly, making for the door of the station. Once outside, he transfers the tray of drinks to one hand and slips his phone from his pocket with the other. He slides open his conversation with Todoroki. 'caffeine acquired!' he sends, along with a smiling emote. Midoriya moves to put his phone away just as he feels a push from behind, sending him stumbling forward a few steps and into another person. His first instinct is to protect the coffees, and he raises his hand to guard them, but his reaction time is too slow. Time seems to slow down, and Midoriya can only stare in horror as a brown stain begins to spread along the delicate material of the dress shirt before him, both cup lids having fallen off upon impact with the poor victim. He backs up a step, face steadily heating, taking in the carnage of both coffee and clothing. 'Oh God, oh God, oh God,' his mind chants. His eyes are wide, and he's frozen. A deer in headlights.
“I'm s-so sorry!” he blurts out, stuttering in his haste to apologize after his moment of panic. He bends into a deep bow at the waist, torso parallel to the ground. “Please allow me to pay for any medical care needed for burns, as well as for your dry cleaning!”
There's a beat of silence. Midoriya may have thought the person had left if not for the clear sight he had of their shoes. 'Those look like real leather, oh God, his shirt is probably so expensive and I ruined it. I'm not going to be able to pay Todoroki for months of rent after this. Maybe I can work overtime tutoring to get some extra--'
“Haah?!” a familiar sounding voice cuts off Midoriya's rambling thoughts, “You think you can fuckin' afford to pay to clean my shirt when that suit you're wearing is obviously secondhand??” Midoriya feels like the deer again, refuses to rise from his bow. “Fuck, forget about it. I'm not about to take money from some guy who's fucking broke.” This gives Midoriya pause. Maybe he was wrong about recognizing the man's voice. It's been almost ten years since he's even seen him, let alone talked to him. It can't possibly be him. “Hey, shit-for-brains, are you even listening to me? I'm not taking your fucking money.” Then again, that does sound awfully like him. Midoriya risks a peek up through his fringe.
Of all people he could have spilled his coffee on, of course it had been Bakugou Katsuki.
“Are you gonna stop fucking bowing anytime soon? People are staring,” Bakugou looks somewhat awkward, hands in his pants pockets, shoe scuffing the ground as he glances around. Midoriya wonders how he can get away without the blond realizing it's him.
“Um...uh...” Midoriya coughs, trying to lower the pitch of his voice, “Thanks, then, I'll be going now, then...” He rises from his bow quickly, head still lowered, turns his body away from the other man. He manages to take one step away before a hand on his shoulder stops him.
“Wait a sec,” Bakugou says, fingers firmly grasping the slim shoulder below them, “You look familiar. Have we met before? At the station?” Midoriya knows that Bakugou is a police officer, one of the best, trained by All Might himself. It's hard not to know with how much the blond man had been in the papers recently. Midoriya is happy for him, really. He made his dream a reality. At least that made one of them.
“No!” Midoriya squeaks, keeping his face turned. He clears his throat, “I mean, no...”
“You sure?” Bakugou questions, “I know your voice. Hey, flighty, fucking look at me.” His tone leaves no room for argument. It's a command, not an option. Midoriya relents. Turns.
Bakugou drops his hand as if burned.
“Deku?” His voice is as stunned sounding as he looks. Midoriya avoids his eyes, choosing instead to look at a point over his shoulder.
“Long time no see, Kacchan,” he says meekly, threading his fingers together nervously and holding them to his stomach. He can feel the other man's eyes flicking between his hands and his face, appraising him silently. The pair stands quietly for a moment, one man looking too much, the other not at all. Eventually, Midoriya breaks the silence.
“W-well, I gotta go,” he stutters out, gesturing over his shoulder with his thumb. “Shouto is waiting for his coffee, and now I have to go get another one. I'm really sorry again about your shirt. See you around!” He makes to leave, but is stopped again by Bakugou's hand, this time on his bicep. 'He's way more touchy than I remember,' he thinks offhandedly, trying not to shrink away from his childhood bully out of pure habit. They may have parted on neutral terms at the end of school, but Midoriya can't shake years of ingrained self-preservation instinct, no matter how much he idolized the man. Bakugou notices his flinch anyway, and immediately releases his arm.
“On second thought,” Bakugou begins, dropping his hand back to his side, “I do want something as repayment.”
'Oh God, this is why I was trying to leave. What could he possibly want? I can't pay for it, as he said, but what if he wants collateral? What could I even offer as collateral?'
“Let me take you to dinner.”
The statement stuns Midoriya. That isn't exactly what he had been expecting.
“What?” he gets out, looking at Bakugou properly for the first time in the encounter. He exhales softly as he looks at him. 'How did he get even more hot?' he wonders, momentarily derailed as he takes in the man's appearance.
Bakugou has definitely filled into the muscles that were beginning to develop in school. Broad shoulders and thick biceps barely restrained by the fashionable sport coat covering them, strong jaw framing a face that could be the love child between Superman and an angel. 'There's no way having a face like that is legal,' Midoriya decides. Intelligent crimson orbs shine between pale lashes, watching Midoriya like a hawk. 'He cut his hair shorter,' Midoriya observes, 'It looks nice'. Bakugou raises an eyebrow, lips twitching into a surprised smirk.
“Still fucking muttering aloud, huh, nerd?” he asks, voice lacking any venom of the past. It sounds, if Midoriya doesn't know any better, almost fond. Midoriya flushes as he takes in the meaning of his words. He had just said that thought out loud. An embarrassed squeak leaves him as he raises his hands to cover his mouth, eyes wide.
“I! Uh, I mean...that is to say...” the dark haired boy backpedals, face getting incrementally warmer the longer Bakugou stares at him with that amused look on his face. As he watches, the blond runs a hand through said hair, making it stick up even further.
“Thanks,” Bakugou says sincerely, crimson eyes making intense contact with green. Midoriya isn't sure how much more of this he can take. Bakugou, first forgiving him, but now thanking him? He shakes his head. He must have fallen asleep on the train. This is definitely dream territory. Bakugou notices his expression, his face twisting into a scowl, looking much more like himself. “What the fuck are you spacing out about now, nerd?” he demands, snapping his fingers in front of Midoriya's face.
“I'm dreaming, right?” Midoriya replies with a laugh, relaxing his posture and lowering his hands, “There's no way the real Kacchan would be this nice to me.”
That statement makes Bakugou's scowl deepen, brow furrowed to the extreme.
“Do you want me to be an asshole, shitty Deku?!” he bites out, looking angry, “I just want to take you out for fucking dinner, and you're here looking down on me.”
Midoriya almost smiles at how pouty the man looks as he says that. Almost. Bakugou holds out his hand. Midoriya eyes it warily, not sure what he wants, not sure if he can handle the man touching him again right now.
“Give me your fucking phone,” the blond says. Midoriya pulls it out nervously and sets it in his palm, not wanting to anger the man further, figment of his imagination or not. “Unlock it, stupid,” he's told, and hastens to do so. Bakugou taps at the screen for a minute before handing the phone back to its owner. Midoriya looks down at the screen to see a new contact has been added: 'Kacchan'. His eyes widen.
“I thought you didn't like that nickname,” he wonders aloud, staring at the name, eyes feeling damp for a reason unknown to him. Bakugou sniffs, looking away from the watery eyed man, stuffing his hands grumpily into his pants pockets.
“I figured you'd change it to that anyway, so I'm just fucking saving you time, stupid Deku,” he mutters, a blush colouring his cheeks lightly. Midoriya stares, taking it in. He's never seen the blond blush before, never seen him be bashful or embarrassed. Bakugou looks entirely uncomfortable with the entire situation, totally out of his element. He almost looks--
The word is out of his mouth before he can stop it. He clamps a hand over his lips anyway, taking a step back. Bakugou cuts his eyes to him, flaming orbs widened in shock, blush still present on his face, maybe even deeper now.
“Deku, you...” he starts, reaching a hand forward in the air once more, seemingly unsure what he planned on doing with said hand. Midoriya doesn't give him the chance to figure it out.
“Okay, I'll text you when I'm free, or whatever,” the dark haired boy says, backing away further out of reach, “I gotta go get that new coffee. Bye, Kacchan!” Midoriya then spins on his heel and speed walks back into the station, a nervous buzz running through him. Even after he rounds the corner and into the shop, Midoriya swears he can feel Bakugou's eyes still staring after him. Spooky.
Midoriya arrives home with two freshly made coffees (free of charge as per Mrs. Suou, despite his protests) after a brief text of explanation to Todoroki. All his friend replied with was 'Tell me about it when you get home'. Midoriya nearly feels as nervous for that than he did during the run in.
The entire elevator ride up, Midoriya is fidgeting. It lets out a pleasant ding as it reaches the twenty-third floor. Midoriya steps off and heads down the hall, pulling out his key on his way. He unlocks the door and slips inside.
“I'm home,” he announces softly to the seemingly empty apartment. He knows his friend is here somewhere. Most probably in his office, Midoriya figures. Slipping his shoes off, he pads down the hall towards Todoroki's room. The apartment is a one bedroom, with every inch of space in use. As a lawyer, Todoroki is always taking his work home, his overtime hours at legendary stats, in Midoriya's opinion. After he moved in, the other man had cleaned most of his overflowing work from the main room, so that Midoriya would have space to exist. The two had bought a nice folding divider and portioned off a corner of the (admittedly) large living room space for him to have as a 'room'. Midoriya doesn't mind, as he doesn't have many belongings to need the use of an entire room. A few worn out suits, one carry-on sized suitcase of casual clothes, framed pictures of his family and friends, and a few pieces of All Might memorabilia left over from his childhood make up the bulk of his things. Since he has had to move so many times, Midoriya has learned to not keep much.
He toes open the door to Todoroki's room from its partially closed position. His friend is hunched over his desk, one hand holding his head, the other scribbling notes furiously on the paper before him. Though most of his work is done on his laptop, Todoroki likes to rough out his thoughts by hand. He always claims it helps him think better.
“Here's your coffee, Shouto,” Midoriya says, bringing his friend out of his work gently. Todoroki blinked, looking over to the other.
“Oh, Izuku, I didn't hear you get home,” he says apologetically, “Welcome home.” Midoriya smiles. Todoroki has always insisted that this was Midoriya's home as well, despite his weak protests otherwise. He hands the still warm cup to his friend, who takes it with a murmured thanks, taking a long sip immediately, dropping his heterochromic eyes closed in happiness. The dark haired man backs up to sit on Todoroki's bed, relaxing against the wall with his own drink.
Midoriya will forever be grateful for gaining a friend as good as Todoroki. The two have gone through a lot in their years of friendship. During university, they had even dated for a spell. While Midoriya had no complaints of their year and a half long relationship, they had mutually decided that they only felt platonic love for each other, and separated with no hard feelings. Midoriya is very proud to call the multicoloured haired man his best friend.
Todoroki's appearance is a hot topic for many people. Born with heterochromia, making his eyes two different colours, a rare case of poliosis, affecting half of his hair straight down the middle and turning the natural red hair to a perfect white, and a large port wine stain over his left eye, Todoroki is definitely eye catching to say the least. It's a sharp contrast with his subtle personality.
“So,” his friend interrupts his musing, “Tell me about Bakugou.”
Midoriya shoots his eyes away from the other man, begins fidgeting with the sleeve on the coffee cup.
“Well, first I spilled our coffees on him,” he begins, staring into the cup, “I didn't know it was him at first! I was just so embarrassed I was trying to get away as fast as possible.” Todoroki chuckles at his flustered state just retelling the tale. “I offered to pay for cleaning his shirt, but then he said I couldn't afford it!”
Todoroki mumbles a quiet, “Well, he's not wrong,” into his drink. Midoriya spares him an exasperated look.
“I tried to get away after he said I didn't have to give him anything, since he hadn't realized it was me yet, but he grabbed my shoulder...” Todoroki raises an eyebrow, waiting for him to continue, “He literally demanded I turn around and face him, and you know I can't not listen to Kacchan.” Todoroki nods, knowing this fact very well from their time together in high school. “After he found out it was me, he was all 'Oh, I want payment after all'!” Midoriya lowers his voice, attempting to impersonate Bakugou's rough tone. Todoroki's lips twitch as he keeps himself from smiling. “And do you know what he wanted as payment?!” Todoroki shakes his head 'no', a smile twitching onto his lips. “He said he wants to take me to dinner!”
“So are you going to go?” Todoroki asks mildly with a sip of his coffee. Midoriya's jaw drops at the question, sputtering.
“Wh...what do you mean, 'Am I gonna go'?! Just because Kacchan looks like a Greek God had a baby with Ken Watanabe, doesn't mean I should text him! Just because he said 'thank you' when I accidentally said his hair looked nice now? Just because I saw his blushing face and it's enough to give and angel its wings?!” Midoriya pants after his rant. Todoroki has a definite smirk on his face now.
“So you got his number?” he asks, spinning in his chair so he's facing his desk again. Midoriya flushes as he registers the question.
“He put it in my phone under 'Kacchan',” he whispers, smiling at his cup. Todoroki chuckles again.
“You've still got it bad, huh,” his friend says. Midoriya nods morosely, sets his cup on the bedside table, then flops face first onto the bed. He groans into the pillow.
“I thought I got over him years ago Shouto,” he whines, kicking his feet on the bed like a child. Todoroki tuts at him from across the room.
“Well, here's your chance to finally do something about it,” Todoroki reasons, going back to his work, “Text him and make plans.”
Midoriya raises his head with a snap from the pillow, face aghast.
“I can't just 'text him'!” he cries.
“Yes, you can. That's why he gave you his number.”
“He didn't take yours, so the ball is in your court right now,” Todoroki explains reasonably to the silent man, “He's giving you the option to back out, but you know that if you do, you'll regret it forever, and I'll have to hear about it for the rest of my life.”
Midoriya stares at his friend in shocked silence. Todoroki almost never says that much at one time.
“...I'll sleep on it,” Midoriya concedes, falling on the pillow again. Todoroki huffs a laugh.
“I'll wake you for dinner.”