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The Youtuber and The Hero

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“You know, I love talking about heroes, but I do appreciate how you guys let me do stuff for fun sometimes.”

Izuku spoke to the camera while sitting on the floor of his apartment. He clapped his hands together.

He sing-songed, “So, welcome back to Me Time, starring me and my time!”

(He’d add some sparkles in post.)

Honeydew, his Shih Tzu, lifted her head from where she was laying under the living room table. She boofed once before putting her head down. Izuku smiled.

“So, I was in the mood for something that would be painfully hard to make. Something that I’d obviously fail at making look even remotely okay.”

He spread his arms out with more confidence than he felt.

“So today, I’m making an Ingenium cosplay out of only the stuff I could find in my house!”

Izuku picked up the camera, filming himself in various locations in his apartment looking for supplies. For this video, he mainly wanted to find tinfoil and dark clothes, plus the leftover white paint from when he tried to follow a Bob Ross video using only audio. Izuku set his supplies down on the floor, already feeling anticipation growing in his chest. Some of his most popular “Me Time” videos involved him trying to make hero cosplays out of only stuff in his house, or with a laughably small budget.

They were silly videos, supposed to be a break from the complex mathematics and theories he usually did.

As Izuku laid out a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie on the floor, he tried not to think about how he went to highschool with Iida Tenya, the current Ingenium. Izuku went to work taping sheets of tin foil to sweatpants.

Ingenium was out there saving lives. Meanwhile, Izuku was an Yuuei alumnus and painting pieces of cardboard white on a Friday afternoon. He felt a little pathetic as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

“Okay… so I don’t want to hot glue anything because I actually like this hoodie, but nothing is staying taped to it…”

He ripped a sheet of tin foil that was part of the chest armor. Izuku looked up at the camera, shoulders slumped and pouting.

“This is so sad. Someone please call Cellophane, tell him I need help.”


2 New Messages

 

Ochako: TENYA

Ochako: Did u see Midoriya Deku’s newest video??

Tenya: No, I haven’t. What did he discuss this time?

He knew of the hero analysis Youtuber, although he wasn’t nearly a big a fan as Ochako was. Tenya figured Deku finally did a theory on her Quirk.

Ochako: HE DID ANOTHER ME TIME VIDEO

Ochako: HE TRIED TO MAKE A COSPLAY OF YOU

Ochako: pfjshdkfkrahj it was so sad

Ochako: poor Honeydew she stepped in paint halfway through

Tenya could feel his cheeks grow warm. He was thankful that he was the only one left in the locker room. He wasn’t aware that Deku was a fan of his.

Tenya: Are you sure it’s not my brother’s costume?

Ochako: asdflkjd well it kind of vaguely resembles yours so I’d say so

Tenya: I’ll watch it when I get home. Thank you for telling me.

Ochako: HURRY I WANT TO KNOW WHAT U THINK OF IT

Once he got home, Tenya sat at his kitchen table and opened up his laptop. He tended to stay away from those who talked mainly about heroes, it wouldn’t do well to get a bloated ego, but Midoriya Deku was always on the less pretentious side of the hero critic spectrum. (That is, if he could be considered a critic at all. He behaved much more like a fanboy, although the word felt so childish to Tenya.)

He found Deku’s most recent video. It was almost twenty minutes long.

Me Time #11: Ingenium Cosplay Using Only Stuff In My House (Help Me)

True to Ochako’s word, it was laughably difficult making a costume as complex as Tenya’s using mainly tin foil and a limited amount of cardboard. Halfway through the video, Deku looked up from duct taping his sweatpants. His eyes widened as he rushed to pull his tiny, white dog off a paper plate covered in paint.

Tenya snorted into his cup of tea. Deku grabbed the camera and seemed to sprint through his house to the kitchen sink.

“Honeydew! How could you do this to me?”

The video cut to Izuku scrubbing his dog’s paws, then to him completing his project. Izuku put on the messy armor, showing it off with a surprisingly high roundhouse kick.

“Overall, it’s not going to win any awards but the important thing is that I tried.”

The camera shifted and jolted until it focused on the floor, where Deku’s dog sat licking her now clean paws.

“And Honeydew has officially lost her arts and crafts privileges.”

After the video ended, Tenya picked up his phone and texted Ochako.

Tenya: I watched the video. I thought it was very enjoyable. :)

Ochako: ALSHJDFSKAFHK I feel so bad for deku, he was just doing his best when Honeydew went and Did That

Tenya: That poor, little dog.

Tenya mostly listened to Ochako as she continued to talk about how funny the video was. Tenya smiled at her enthusiasm. She was a fan of his since they graduated high school, and was still waiting for the day Deku would (hopefully) talk about her.


Eijirou pressed a hand to his mouth, grinning underneath. How could someone be so cute?

He pressed play on his phone, resuming the video and watching Deku strut around in his apartment wearing something only somewhat resembling Ingenium. Honeydew, the cutest dog in the world, followed after her owner, nipping at his socks.

“What’re you smiling at?”

Eijirou paused the video again, pulling his headphones off. Katsuki was staring at him from the kitchen, holding a bowl of instant ramen in his hands. (A mutual guilty pleasure.)

“Just Midoriya Deku’s newest vid.”

As expected, Katsuki tsked and rolled his eyes. He sat on the couch next to Eijirou and began eating.

“Don’t know why people obsess over that nerd.”

“He’d pretty funny.”

And pretty in general. His freckles were adorable.

But Eijirou knew Katsuki had some sort of thing against Deku and left it at that.

“Whatever.”

Katsuki went back to eating. Eijirou leaned back against the couch arm, pressing play on the video. At the very end, it cut to Deku at his desk, cleaned up from the paint and sweat he managed to accumulate.

“So, that was an utter disaster, but at least I had fun doing it.”

Eijirou smiled.

“But now I just wanted to remind you guys that my new book on out for sale right now!”

The cover of his book, a bright yellow volume with the profile of All Might in his prime flashed on the screen.

Hero Analysis by Midoriya Izuku

Eijirou was surprised that Deku wasn’t using his pseudonym for the book, but then again, he couldn’t easily imagine most people wanting to read a book by someone named Deku.

“It covers a ton of hero history and Quirk theory about some of the most influential heroes of all time, interpreted and written by yours truly!”

Eijirou wasn’t the biggest reader, and barely had time for it as a pro Hero, but he pre-ordered as soon as he found out Deku was writing a book. (And that there would be a chapter about Crimson Riot).

“That’s not all, stop by the Spilled Ink in Musutafu on September fifteenth, anytime from one to five, and I’ll be there to sign it!”

The address of the signing popped on screen. It wasn’t the first time Eijirou wished he could go.

A light blush started spreading across Deku’s cheeks. He rubbed the back of his neck and smiled. Deku, almost unanimously decided by his fanbase, was cutest when he was flustered. (Which, to be fair, seemed to be at least half the time he was on screen.)

“And I just want to thank everyone who watches my videos! Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this in the first place. I never would have imagined that anyone would want to read my rambling without anyone to watch them first.”

When the video ended, Eijirou felt a little flutter in his chest. He loved Deku’s videoes, although, he wondered. Deku was probably one of the smartest people Eijirou’s ever seen. Who wouldn’t want to listen to him?


His best friend texted him at two in the morning.

Hitoshi: saw your new vid. Tell Honeydew I love her

Izuku smiled. He rolled onto his back, holding his phone close to his face. The little dog in question was sleeping on a pillow at the foot of his bed.

Izuku: She’s a bad and naughty girl that should be punished for her crimes

Hitoshi: are you really that mad at her?

Izuku:...

Izuku: no :(

Hitoshi was Izuku’s first subscriber, back when he first started his channel in high school. They were in the General Education class together, until Hitoshi started training with Eraserhead and got bumped up to the hero course.

Hitoshi: So, how’ve you been?

Izuku: Good! Why?

Hitoshi: you were making an awful lot of self-deprecating jokes this video. More so than usual

Hitoshi knew him too well.

Izuku: No, I’m fine! Sorry for making you worry

Hitoshi: Don’t apologise. I just wanted to know if you’re okay

Izuku:

His fingers hovered over his phone screen, not knowing what to say. His palms were getting clammy from making Hitoshi worry over him, but Izuku really did think he was fine. There wasn’t any reason for his friend to be worrying over him.

But he still hadn’t typed anything yet. Three little dots appeared and vanished as Hitoshi sent his next message.

Hitoshi: Do you want me to come over sometime this week?

Izuku fumbled with his phone, nearly dropping it on his face.

Izuku: You don’t have to do that! I don’t want you to stress out over this, I promise I’m okay!!

Hitoshi lived over two hours away. Izuku didn’t want him taking off from his patrols or leaving his own house to take care of him again.

Hitoshi: Alright.

Hitoshi: But I’m always here if you need me

Izuku smiled.

Izuku: I know, it’s why I love you

Hitoshi sent the emoji of the sick face with a medical mask on it.

Hitoshi: love you too. Goodnight

Izuku smiled. He sent back his own goodnight message, with enough moon, star, and heart emojis to fill up a few lines.


The Spilled Ink was a bookshop in Musutafu. It was quaint, easy to manage, and about thirty minutes away from his mom’s apartment. But it wasn’t exactly what Izuku envisioned himself doing with his life beyond the internet.

He went to college after graduating from Yuuei. He double majored in History and Theoretical Heroics, a subject about laws regarding Quirk use and theoretical Quirk application. It was primarily for analysts hired by hero agencies, but here Izuku was, working in a bookshop part time.

He told himself again and again that this was his choice. Multiple hero agencies reached out to him to be an analyst once he graduated, but Izuku declined every one. It would have been too painful, to work in a building with heroes and not be one himself. He was even offered a position and at Ground Zero and Red Riot’s agency, and refused almost immediately. He was sure it was some agent trying to hire him, certainly not Kacchan, but Izuku couldn’t imagine walking into work one day and having Ground Zero ask why he was there.

Not after they went to the same high school. Not after they both tried to become heroes and only one succeeded. He would’ve died of humiliation.

(And in the end, he refused any agency employing a hero he went to high school with. Which was, it turned out, all of them.)

Izuku regretted that choice now. Youtube and working at the bookshop were nice, but his heart still ached for more.

He sat behind the checkout counter, sighed, and flipped through the pages of his latest journal.

Hero Analysis #22

(The For the Future part got cut off at #15.)

Izuku spun the pen in his hand, going back to the sketch of Uravity he started yesterday. He’s seen her lift literal tons of weight, and always wondered if she needed to focus mentally on keeping it all in the air, or if her touch was really all it took. He propped his chin up with his other hand and sighed as he doodled. He wasn’t trying to slack off on the job, but the manager was out for the day, and it wasn’t like there was a whole lot for him to do otherwise. The shop wasn’t usually very busy, and it was partially why Izuku agreed to do the book signing here. It was a nice gesture of his boss to set this up for him, but honestly, he wasn’t really expecting anyone to show up. The bookshop was very low-key, and Izuku wasn’t exactly the most popular face on the internet.

Not that he didn’t appreciate the following he did have, though. He certainly did! Izuku made most of his income online, and he’d certainly never be upset with the one million followers he did have.

(It was actually closer to two million, but that wasn’t important to Izuku.)

It’s just… out of everything a person could decide to do, why choose to meet him?

Izuku pushed that thought away, trying to focus more on his journal.


Any thoughts of a certain famous Youtuber slipped from Eijirou’s mind for the next week.

There was a series of bank robberies that no other hero was able to stop, orchestrated by some B-list villains and their cronies. Most of them were easy enough to defeat for Eijirou and Katsuki, but one got away, taking most of the stolen money with her.

She was hard to find, with a Quirk that let her teleport. She already evaded the police and every hero sent to capture her. The only conclusive thing that they knew was that she relied on shadows in some way to travel.

Not even Katsuki, with his mobility and explosions, could catch her before she left Tokyo entirely. And as much as he appreciated his best friend, Eijirou wasn’t exactly happy to hear Katsuki complain about having to partner with another agency in Musutafu.

Eijirou tried to look on the bright side. They knew she was spotted in the shopping district, and had even more people looking for her than before. (Katsuki did not share this sentiment.)

Their first goal in his mind was capturing their target. The second goal was to keep Katsuki from saying anything too rude to the heroes they were partnering with. Eijirou thought very little of Midoriya Deku.


Izuku honestly wasn’t that surprised when the book signing amounted to only a dozen or so people in the first hour. He really wasn’t ~that~ popular, and he actually preferred it this way. He got to meet his fans (and wasn’t that thought intimidating?). He was able to talk to them more personally, express theories with other hero enthusiasts, and feel good for once about the amount of effort he put into his work.

At the end of the first hour, the last person in line was girl with a copy of his book clutched to her chest. Her skin was a pale shade of gray, her eyes completely red, and she couldn’t have been out of middle school yet. She didn’t really speak much, and Izuku could relate to that. He asked for her name, signed her book, and handed it back without giving her too much hassle.

“Actually, I was hoping I could ask you a question.”

Izuku blinked. He set down his pen.

“Yes?”

She bit her lip.

“My Quirk is… I can make people sad. Kind of like how Ms. Joke can make people laugh? But I just make everyone feel awful.”

Izuku didn’t know where she was going with that. He stood up and sat on the table, feeling weird if he wasn’t eye to eye with her. If the girl was surprised, she didn’t say anything.

“And… I just wanted to ask you if you think I could still be a hero with a Quirk like mine.”

Izuku blinked. (He remembered being in a tunnel, the feeling of cold slime squeezing his body, in his nose, in his mouth, in his lungs, feeling like dying the sensation of being saved the sight of All Might, flying through the air, being on a skyscraper, pouring his heart out, hoping with everything in him-

He couldn’t be a hero.)

Izuku blinked again. He smiled at the young girl, even though he felt his heart pounding.

“Of course you can! The kind of Quirk you have doesn’t matter as long as you know how to use it.”

The girl looked surprised, like she was expecting Izuku to deny her. He felt this warmth in his chest, a shy, budding sort of joy at making her happy. Izuku looked around, making sure that no one was paying attention to them. Then he leaned in close and whispered, “Can you show me?”

She stiffened, eyes wide. “What?”

Izuku raised his hands defensively.

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I’d love to see what you could do. I promise, I won’t tell anyone.”

The girl looked down at her hands, then back at Izuku.

“Are you sure?”

Izuku nodded. “Can you control it well? Can you just show me a little bit?”

The girl nodded back.

“Hold out your hand.”

Izuku watched as she took his hand, only touching him once before pulling away. But for a single second, where their skin touched, a dark gray aura manifested. Izuku’s breath caught in his throat as he immediately began crying.

(“Believe you’ll be born with a Quirk in your next life, and take a swan dive off the roof.”)

The echoing voice in his head and the sense of sadness faded in a few seconds. Izuku blinked, wiping his tears on his sleeve. Not bad, for what was supposed to be a low-dose. There were definitely more painful things Izuku could have remembered.

His stared at the girl. “That was incredible.”

Definitely an unpleasant Quirk, but with plenty of potential. Izuku wished he had his journal on him. The girl blushed.

“Thank you, Deku.”

The warmth in his chest returned, even stronger than before, and he blinked away the tears that still threatened to fall from his eyes. Before the girl left, he realized something else. He called after her.

“By the way, you should trying checking out this really cool underground hero. I don’t know if you know him, but he goes by Hitoshi. He’s got a Quirk that some people think is scary too.”

And in the smallest way, Izuku felt like a hero.


Izuku spent the rest of the time allotted to his book signing catering to a small number of people, but really, he was never very good at sitting still. He got up from time to time when no one was around to check on the shop. Izuku walked through the aisles and went into the back room, just to look through their shelves and storage boxes. He checked his watch as he walked out, noting that it was the nearing the end of both his signing and his shift.

The bell above the front door rang. He looked up.

Izuku’s eyes widened, not daring to believe his day could get any better. He ran across the store as politely as possible before flinging himself into Hitoshi’s arms. His best friend hugged him back, chuckling.

“Hey, Deku.”

Izuku smiled. When Hitoshi called him by his pseudonym, it was never to acknowledge his fame (or to be an insult). With Hitoshi, it was the nickname he grew up with.

Izuku suddenly remembered that he was in public, and still on the job, and quickly pulled away before anyone could see.

“Um, what are you doing here?”

He winced internally. That sounded so rude. But Hitoshi didn’t seem to mind

“Well, you see,” he reached inside his trench coat, “I was hoping I could get this signed.”

He pulled out a copy of Izuku’s book and he immediately flushed red from his face to his neck. Izuku buried his face in his hands.

He asked, “You didn’t.”

“I did.”

“I would have given you a copy.”

“I wanted to support my favorite Youtuber.”

Izuku thought he was going to cry (again). He peeked at Hitoshi from behind his hands.

“You’re lucky you caught me, my shift’s about to end.”

He didn’t sound nearly as sarcastic as Hitoshi could in his sleep, but Izuku tried not to dwell on it as he grabbed a pen from the checkout counter.

“You seriously want me to sign it?”

“Of course.”

Izuku was still blushing as he wrote his name. He hesitated for a second, then covered the page with his other hand. Hitoshi tried to lean over his shoulder, but Izuku quickly wrote under his name,

Thank you for being such a good friend.

He added a few scribbled hearts and shoved the book into Hitoshi’s hands.

“So,” Izuku asked, so he could keep Hitoshi from reading the note, “Are you planning on doing anything while you’re in town?”

Hitoshi shrugged. “I just wanted to see you.”

“Toshi.”

He wasn’t mad. He didn’t think he could ever be mad at Hitoshi, but Izuku should have figured his friend wouldn’t have listened to him.

“I said I was fine.”

“I know,” Hitoshi said, “but am I not allowed to visit a celebrity?”

Izuku’s blush deeped.

“Don’t call me that.”

“Why not? You have more fans than I do.”

Izuku looked away, his face now a darker shade of red. It was still hard for him to grasp that Hitoshi, a pro hero, had a smaller following than him. It felt wrong, for more people to pay attention to him than to someone who actively saved lives. (Regardless of whether or not Hitoshi was an underground hero.)

His eyes caught motion on the TV screen behind the checkout counter. He looked up. It was muted, but there was footage of a hero running after someone across rooftops. They passed by a shopping mall.

Izuku recognized that mall, and the plaza that came after it. The chase was happening nearby, only a few blocks away.

Hitoshi followed his gaze to the TV. He signed like he couldn’t believe a criminal would be rude enough to interrupt his day.

“I should help with that.”

Izuku’s shoulders slumped as he turned his attention back to his friend. He nodded.

“Go.”

Hitoshi put a hand on his shoulder.

“I’ll meet you back here later.”

Then he ran out of the shop, heading for the location of the villain. Izuku felt empty, watching his best friend run into danger while he stayed in the bookshop.

He turned away from the door, figuring he should at least keep himself busy. Izuku cleaned up the table used for the book signing, putting everything away in the storage room. But his mind was still on Hitoshi and the villain.

Why did Izuku want go too?

You’d only get in the way.

He went to the checkout counter, opening and closing his journal several times. Thinking about writing but not wanting to do it.

You don’t know how to fight.

He knew some self-defense, but nothing on par with that of a pro. Izuku started biting his nails, checking his watch every minute. Waiting for his shift to end.

What could you even do?

Izuku felt his palms sweat.

No matter what, you aren’t a hero.

“Midoriya?” His manager asked.

He looked up from his watch too quickly. “Yes?”

“That man was your friend right? If you’re worried about him, you should go.”

The words replayed in Izuku’s head, not being fully processed.

“W-what?”

His manager, a middle aged woman with pink hair, smiled.

“Your shift’s almost over anyways. Go ahead.”

Izuku was bowing before he even knew he was moving.

“Thank you so much!”

He grabbed his jacket, then started sprinting in the direction Hitoshi left in. He tried to ignore how right it felt, to be moving without thinking.


Hitoshi pulled out his phone, checking for updates.

The target had a teleportation Quirk, making their last known location hard to pinpoint. But he’s worked with less information before. Hitoshi strayed from the sidewalk, cutting across alleys. He wished he had his capturing weapon, but he’d make do without that too.

He found a fire escape, jumping up to catch the bottom of the ladder and hauling himself up. He got to the roof, spotting a woman on a building a few streets over. She was wearing the same black jacket as the criminal on the TV. And she seemed to have lost the hero that was previously following her.

Hitoshi started running in the same direction, thinking of how to get to her. If he was lucky, there was another hero nearby and he could just corral her to them. Or, if she was dumb, he could corner her and make her respond to him.

The sound of explosions echoed through the air. Hitoshi saw a bright red ball of light speeding from the other side of the criminal. He squinted.

Was that Bakugou? What was he doing here?

Hitoshi blinked and the next moment, the villain was gone. He slowed down, trying to see where she’d teleport to next. He heard a shout from the street below. He looked over the edge of the roof, finding her pushing through crowds of shoppers. She crossed the street, and Hitoshi realized she was trying to get to the alley in front of him.

He smirked. It seemed that Ground Zero was corralling her to him.

He sprinted, jumping from the edge of the roof to the fire escape on the building across from the alley. He dropped down onto the ground, cutting off his target’s escape just as she entered the alley.

“Going somewhere?”

She stopped, breathing hard. Maybe she didn’t realize he was a hero in his civilian garb.

“Get out of-”

Her body went slack, her eyes unseeing. Hitoshi smirked. All this fuss over an escaped villain, and this was what it took to capture her? Bakugou was going to be furious.


It wasn’t as hard as Izuku expected to find Hitoshi. He just followed the sound of police sirens and the growing crowd of spectators.

“Excuse me, excuse me, I’m so sorry…”

Izuku pushed his way to the front of the crowd, finding that the woman from TV was handcuffed and being lead into the back of a police car. He sighed in relief and looked around. Hitoshi was showing his license to an officer, looking like he was explaining himself. He didn’t appear hurt.

Izuku waited for him to finish. Hitoshi turned from the policeman and caught his eye. His shoulders tensed. His eyes widened. Izuku frowned, dread growing in his stomach as Hitoshi jogged over to him.

“What are you doing here?”

Hitoshi put both his hands on Izuku’s shoulder, ignoring both the awed and confused looks he was getting from the crowd.

“I…”

A flash of bright red hair caught Izuku’s eye. Hitoshi kept a hold on his shoulders, not letting him turn.

“I was worried about you.”

Which was true, but Izuku also felt the need to be there. To know what was happening.

Hitoshi said, “Well, I’m fine. So how about you and me get some dinner, huh? I’ll pay.”

Izuku tilted his head to the side.

“You don’t need to give the police a statement or something?”

“Already done. We can leave now.”

Hitoshi started urging him into the crowd, but Izuku tried to pull himself out of his hold.

“What’s going on, Toshi?”

Why did he want to go so badly? Was it the news van parked on the street?

“Hitoshi!”

Izuku’s breath caught in his throat. That voice sounded familiar.

He saw the way Hitoshi squeezed his eyes shut, exhaling sharply, before turning around. He kept one hand on Izuku’s wrist, keeping him behind him.

“What do you want?”

“Just wanted to thank you. We, uh...”

Izuku was too curious for his own good. He leaned to the side, peeking past Hitoshi’s shoulder.

He gasped. Red Riot stood not even a few feet away and -oh no- they made eye contact and now Izuku might have to talk to him but he couldn’t not after all these years and not like this and not when he’s so sweaty and not when Hitoshi is essentially holding his hand and if Red Riot’s here then he might be here too-

Izuku jerked his head back, so thankful that Hitoshi was still much taller than him.

“Don’t worry about it.” Hitoshi should be given an award for how deadpan he sounded.

The hand holding Izuku’s wrist squeezed tighter. Izuku breathed in and out, trying to reason with himself. There was probably no way such a big hero knew remembered him from high school. Or knew about his Youtube channel. No way. Red Riot definitely had much better uses of his time than to watch Izuku ramble. He was overreacting, for sure.

(But then, why is Hitoshi trying so hard to hide him?)

“You want to come with us to the agency we teamed up with? You can fill out a report there.”

See? Red Riot had more important things to worry about than Midoriya Deku. He was fine. He was fine. He was fine.

Hitoshi said, “I actually have somewhere else to be, so if you don’t mind-”

“Hey, asshole!”

The thrum of the crowd- the murmurs and shouts and footsteps- all died down. Izuku knew that voice too. He knew he shouldn’t have, but he looked past Hitoshi’s shoulder again. He thought his heart was going to stop.

Ground Zero was walking over to them (to Red Riot and Hitoshi, he corrected himself), his infamous sneer in place. His attention was trained on Hitoshi, but for half a second, Izuku thought those red eyes looked at him.

But he wasn’t sure. He recoiled instantly, grabbing the back of Hitoshi’s jacket with his free hand. He knew why Hitoshi wanted to leave now.

Ground Zero asked, “Where do you think you’re going? Who is that?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck, he saw Izuku. Did he recognize him? He couldn’t have. Izuku was too forgettable.

“I’m just going to get something to eat with a friend.”

Hitoshi took a half step back, urging Izuku into the crowd more than he was retreating from the other hero. And if he was in any other state of mind, Izuku would have started applauding Hitoshi’s ability to calmly face the number six hero’s temper.

As it was, the dam at the back of his mind dedicated to suppressing everything Bakugou Katsuki’s ever said to him was dangerously close to breaking.

“What? Too good for us?”

“Zero,” Red Riot scolded.

“Actually, I’m just trying to get out of your hair, Ground Zero. I’m sure you have much more important things to take care of.”

Without waiting for an answer, Hitoshi turned around. He wrapped one arm around Izuku’s shoulders, keeping him moving forward without letting him look back.

Ground Zero called out, “Wait, who-”

Hitoshi called over his shoulder. “Bye, Zero. Riot. I’ll see you when I see you.”

Then they were in the thick of the crowd and out of it as most of the spectator’s attention turned to the two more public heroes. Izuku thought he only started breathing again when they were a block away. Then he felt empty, as all the adrenaline and sweat and anxiety that he spent the entire encounter stockpiling drained away. He blinked, already feeling warm tears start to well up in his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Toshi.”

Hitoshi looked down at him. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

“I caused a scene.”

“Bakugou caused a scene by opening his big mouth. You did nothing wrong.”

Izuku hated how close he was to crying.

“I think they saw me. Will they bother you about it?”

Hitoshi shrugged. “I doubt it.”

He took his arm from around Izuku’s shoulders. They were getting a few looks, and Izuku was in no mindset to be stared at.

“Look, how about we go to your apartment and get some take out tonight? Maybe watch a movie.”

Izuku wiped his eyes and tried to smile.

“Yes, please.”


 

Having Hitoshi over was nice. Izuku bundled himself in a thick blanket, tucked against Hitoshi’s side, with Honeydew in his lap. They ordered too much food for two people and a dog to eat, and lazed around on the couch watching multiple Pokemon movies in a row (Izuku needed something inherently cute and utterly harmless to calm himself). He and Hitoshi argued over which movie was the superior film, and Izuku found himself laughing hard enough to cry. Honeydew made a valiant effort to lick his face clean of sauce and tears.

It was almost midnight when they decided that Hitoshi should just spend the night.

“You want to shower?”

Hitoshi ran a hand through his hair and yawned. “Yeah, you still have some of my clothes here?”

Izuku nodded. “I can get you some pajamas.”

They both got up from the couch, stretching while Honeydew yipped at them, urging them to go back to giving her attention. Hitoshi gave her a pat on his way to the bathroom. Izuku went to his bedroom, flicking on the light and rummaging through his closet.

He and Hitoshi were never together, they were too good of friends to ever date, but there was a time in Izuku’s life where Hitoshi pretty much lived with him.

Izuku found a pair of sweatpants too large to be his own and an Eraserhead t-shirt he knew belonged to Hitoshi. To his utter embarrassment, Izuku also found a pair of clean boxers he knew didn’t belong to him. He took the clothes and knocked on the bathroom door. He could hear the sound of running water, but was surprised when the door opened just a crack. Izuku averted his eyes, just to be safe.

“Found some of your stuff.”

A hand took the pile of clothes. “Hey, I’ve been looking for this shirt.”

Izuku laughed.

“Thanks, Deku.”

He hummed in acknowledgement, letting Hitoshi close the door while he went back to the living room. Izuku started cleaning up the mess they left behind, dangling the occasional piece of leftovers in front of Honeydew for her to take.

After he finished, Izuku washed his hands in the kitchen sink. He heard the bathroom door open. Hitoshi found him in the kitchen and frowned.

“I would have helped you clean up.”

Izuku said, “Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

He dried his hands and yawned. He was tired now, and looked forward to cuddling in bed with Honeydew. But first…

He turned from the sink, finding Hitoshi crouched down and petting his dog.

“Hey, Toshi?”

Hitoshi looked up. “Yeah?”

Izuku shifted his weight from one foot to another. “Thanks, for before.”

For hiding him during his meltdown in front of two other pro-heroes.

Hitoshi stood up.

“You don’t have to thank me.”

Izuku wanted to smile. “Still, I just… I thought I’d be better around them.”

It’s been years since Izuku has seen anyone from high school, aside from Hitoshi. He skirted around the pro-heroes at all costs. And, he hoped, that after hiding from Kacchan for all of their third year of high school and almost six years after, that he’d be forgotten.

(But, oh god, imagine if Ground Zero remembered him? Recognized him, even? Harassed Hitoshi for it… Why couldn’t he just stay in the bookstore?)

“Hey.”

Was he muttering? Oh fuck, he was muttering.

Hitoshi was never the most expressive person, but Izuku knew him well. His best friend never pitied him, never mocked him when he wanted to be a hero. (For still kind of wanting to be a hero.) He was patient with Izuku during the days when he didn’t have the energy to eat or bathe. And now, his dark purple eyes were boring into him.

“You weren’t expecting them to be there. I wasn’t either.”

He walked up to Izuku and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry about what they think of you. And you shouldn’t worry about me. I can give Bakugou as much of a hard time as he can try to give me.”

Hitoshi smiled. “And if he gets persistent, I’ll just brainwash him into doing something embarrassing.”

Izuku snorted, bowing his head.

“Thanks, Toshi.”

Chapter Text

He was exhausted by the time they got to their shared apartment. But in the shower, Eijirou couldn’t do anything other but think.

That had to have been Midoriya Deku with Shinsou, back in Musutafu. The mop of dark green hair, the freckles, the wide eyes. It was him, without a doubt. But Eijirou had to deal with Shinsou and Katsuki at once, and Deku became a minor priority. Now, he regretted not pressing the situation further when he could. He was curious about the way Shinsou held Deku, and how they left together.

Eijirou couldn’t help but wonder if they were together, or how they even would have met. And did anyone else from their old class know? Or was it supposed to be a secret?

He supposed it was a secret, in a way, if Shinsou never told anyone. Or, he was just being himself.

Eijirou sighed as he got out of the shower. He quickly dried himself and, towel wrapped around his waist, Eijirou walked to his bedroom to put on some clothes. While tossing on a shirt, a speck of color caught his eye.

A bright yellow book sat on his nightstand.

“Damn it.”

Today was Deku’s book signing, and he completely forgot about it. For a moment, Eijirou was probably only a few feet from the guy and didn’t even say anything. He ran a hand through his wet hair. What a shame…

Then Eijirou bit his lip. Maybe he could text Shinsou?


 

Sweat drenched Katsuki’s back, tank top clinging to his skin. His agency had a great gym in the basement, somewhat soundproof and well suited for blowing off steam.

Katsuki flexed his palms before blowing up another block of concrete, shielding his eyes as debris went flying. He was panting, shoulders rising and falling from the exertion, but he didn’t get any satisfaction from his work out. Katsuki closed his hands into fists and opened them again. Not even shattering some targets could distract him from what happened.

It’s been a few days since he and Eijirou came back from Musutafu. Since he saw Shinsou leave the crime scene with someone Katsuki knew.

Midoriya Izuku. Deku.

Katsuki grunted as he shot another explosion at the pile of rubble. It was impossible not to recognize that head of green hair, or his face full of freckles. Before Deku was a Youtuber or whatever, he was just the Quirkless kid that Katuski used to torment.

Believe you’ll be born with a Quirk in your next life, and take a swan dive off the roof.

His bit his lip, repressing a snarl. Could he have been a bigger asshole when he was a kid? (Has he really changed?)

Katsuki growled, frustrated, letting the explosions spark across his palms like miniature fireworks. There was no doubt in his mind that he saw his childhood victim for the first time in over half a decade. Their eyes met for only a second, but he could have said something. He could have ignored the purple bastard just a little bit and done something other than grow furious. (But in his defense, he was mad that Shinsou showed up out of nowhere and captured their villain. Katsuki hated that he was still so good at getting under his skin, unafraid of Katsuki’s temper or Quirk or really anything about him.)

Now, looking back, Katsuki could recognize the fear in Deku’s eyes. The panic, the wide-eyed, pale terror. He had to be twenty-four now, like Katsuki, but for the brief time they saw each other, he looked exactly like he did when they were kids.

Deku was still afraid of him.

Surrounded by a reinforced gym full of rubble, Katsuki clenched his hands into fists and extinguished his explosions.


 

1 New Message

Kyoka <3 : OMg babe

Momo saw her phone screen light up out of the corner of her eye. She really shouldn’t be slacking off while working, but she was in her own office. Plus, what if Kyoka needed something?

Momo: Yes?

Kyoka <3 : Midoriya Deku’s newest Me Time video

Kyoka <3 : I’m fuckign crying

Momo smiled. She could just imagine it- her girlfriend still in her pajamas after noon on her day off, binge watching Deku videos.

Kyoka <3 : he tried to sew socks for Honeydew and she tore them apart

Kyoka sent a series of crying-smiley emojis. Momo laughed softly, imagining the tiny dog having the time of her life.

Momo: I’ll have to watch it when I get home, I haven’t seen his Ingenium cosplay either

Kyoka <3 : Hot date concept: we cancel dinner reservations and watch Deku instead

Momo: Plot twist, we watch Deku at the restaurant

Kyoka <3 : damn babe ur so smart

Momo smiled. She knew how much her girlfriend loved Midoriya Deku, although she preferred his “Me Time” videos. Momo herself actually found his hero analysis and theories much more entertaining.

Momo: I know, it’s why you love me

Momo: I’ll see you tonight~

Kyoka sent her a heart and sparkle emoji.


 

Izuku dumped all the scrap fabric into a giant, plastic bin with all the other leftover supplies from past videos. He thought, since Honeydew loved trying to steal his socks, he’d just make some for herself. Izuku poured his heart into a pair of giants sock large enough for her to fit inside, and she ripped them apart within minutes. (He couldn’t tell if she hated them, or really loved them. Either way, he wasn’t making more.)

“Oh, Honey, what am I going to do with you?”

Honeydew was taking a nap on the heap of fabric that used to be her newest toys. Izuku sat on the couch and pulled out his phone, deciding that he could start editing later. As it was, he barely had the energy to film a video to begin with. A little more than a week had passed, but he was still on edge after seeing Red Riot and Ground Zero.

Izuku sighed, already feeling the guilt starting to fester in his stomach. He’s been using his “Me Time” videos as a distraction, focusing more on them than his analyses. (But then again, why spend days or even weeks compiling evidence for conspiracy theories or anything technical, when a dog and a few massive socks were sure to get more views?)

He honestly had no one to blame but himself for his problems. His “for fun” videos started as a means of keeping himself invested in continuing his channel. They were a hobby, done maybe once a month. Then it became twice a month when they grew more popular. Eventually, he started making them one once a week if he could, with the same frequency as the videos he should be putting more effort into. And now, they were an escape from the less savory moments of his life.

Izuku stretched his legs out and propped them on his coffee table. He started scrolling through Chirper, the social media platform for hero-related topics.

He knew he was begging for trouble, really. Lots of unpleasant (i.e. Ground Zero-related) images could pop up, but Izuku also didn’t really use many other social media platforms. Despite being a Youtuber, he was a bit of a social recluse, keeping mainly to YouTube and Chirper, but really nothing else. He just couldn’t imagine constantly interacting with people he didn’t know, but who knew him. He’d undoubtedly end up making a fool of himself.

Out of habit, Izuku searched his own pseudonym. (If he was looking for feedback, why not go directly to the comment section of his own videos?) Izuku found a pleasantly surprising number people admiring his dedication to his last actually serious video, a historical piece about Crimson Riot. For that, he had to mention Red Riot as part of Crimson’s lasting influence. And filming that part made Izuku’s stomach churn.

Izuku stopped scrolling when he came across a particular comment.

ChargerBoltt: Hey, I’ve watched a few of this guy’s videos. Had no idea he did stuff about heroes too!

Izuku lips pressed together tightly, the guilt in his stomach growing stronger. What a fucking testament that was to his inability to keep his channel contained to what it should be. He kept scrolling.

Gr0undRi0t: you guys remember when he was a hero youtuber?

BestJeanAss: lol whaaat? When?

Izuku winced, turning off his phone and letting his head slump against the back of the couch.

Would things be different if, in another world, he actually managed to become a hero?

At one point, Izuku thought he was doing everything right. He trained himself, started exercising and practicing martial arts before the Yuuei entrance exam. He even got into the school of his dreams (granted, in the General course) but when it came down to it…

Izuku just couldn’t do it. He couldn’t shine bright enough to get into the hero course. There were a few times, especially in the Sports Festivals, but the hope in Izuku began to die by his third year. And now, here he was. A Yuuei alumnus, a college graduate, a moderately successful Youtuber, but not anything compared to the heroes he went to school with.

Izuku heard the clinking of Honeydew’s tags, jarring him out of his self-induced guilt trip. He watched as his dog pawed at the couch before jumping up. He couldn’t help but smile and scoop the dog into his arms. She huffed a bit, but let him hold her.

“Aww, did you come to cheer my up, Honey-D?”

She didn’t answer. Izuku hugged her to his chest, and she was content to lick his cheek.


 

Eijirou didn’t know why he was so nervous. He was just sending a text.

A text to Shinsou. About Midoriya Deku. Who Shinsou may or may not be dating.

That thought alone was a little daunting, but the more Eijirou looked back at their encounter, the more he was bothered by what he saw. Shinsou was guarding Deku, no doubt about it, with a surprising grip on the Youtuber’s wrist. For the two seconds Eijirou actually saw him, Midoriya Deku’s eyes were blown wide with fear.

Eijirou paced around the living room, grateful that Katsuki wasn’t at home for the time being. He decided to type out the first message that came to him and send it before he could change his mind.

Eijirou: Hey dude, just wanted to say thanks again for the assist with that villain last week

He wanted to sound friendly, even if he was still a little anxious. But Shinsou was also notorious in high school for being one of the worst people in class when it came to texting back. (The others being Mina and Shoji). Eijirou was willing to set his phone down and check back in a couple of hours when it vibrated in his hand.

Shinsou: Don’t mention it.

Through text, Eijirou couldn’t really tell if he was being rude or casual about it. Maybe both.

Eijirou: But you did save us a ton of work, even if Katsuki won’t admit it

Shinsou: Glad I could help.

Eijirou:

Things seemed to being going better than disastrously wrong, and that was really all Eijirou needed to send his next message.

Eijirou: But I was wondering, that guy you were with back in Musutafu. I might’ve been seeing things but was that Midoriya Deku?

Shinsou:

The three little bubbles indicating he was typing appeared and vanished twice, before Shinsou sent his message.

Shinsou: What if it was?

Eijirou’s eyes widened. Okay. Okay, okay, okay. Not a direct admittance, but pretty much one regardless.

Eijirou: Do you know him?

He waited. Shinsou responded after a few minutes.

Shinsou: Yes. He asks that you keep this information private.

Eijirou’s breath caught in his throat. Holy fuck, that really was Midoriya Deku standing right in front of him! Now he felt silly for not introducing himself when he could have. He started typing at the same time as Shinsou.

Eijirou: Oh dude, that’s so cool!

Shinsou: Especially from Bakugou.

He blinked.

Eijirou: What?

Shinsou started texting almost immediately.

Shinsou: Do not tell Bakugou that you are aware I know him. Do not tell anyone else from our old class, either.

Eijirou was now holding his phone more gingerly, as if by just treating it gently he could circumvent his new, awkward position. He understood someone wanting privacy, but pro-heroes were kind of Deku’s bread and butter. He wouldn’t want to meet one? (Or, another? He was friends with Shinsou, after all.)

Eijirou: Uh, sure dude. Your secret is safe with me

But there was still a reason he wanted to text Shinsou in the first place. Eijirou hesitantly typed out his next message.

Eijirou: I was only asking because I bought his book and forgot to bring it with me to Musutafu, and I was hoping he could still sign it? No big deal if he can’t, though!

Shinsou didn’t respond.


 

Izuku’s hands shook as he scrolled through the screenshots Hitoshi sent him. He read through the conversation he had with Red Riot again, lips pressed tight together.

Hitoshi: So? It’s your call. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do.

It was finally happening. Izuku spent the days since encountering Red Riot and Ground Zero suffering from near perpetual anxiety-sweats. But Izuku just knew something like this was bound to happen.

He was thankful to Hitoshi for cueing him into the conversation and asking what he wanted. He might’ve been a nervous wreck, but he still didn’t want Hitoshi to be rude for his sake.

Just say that we know each other. There. That should have been plain and simple. Ambiguous, yet polite. End of conversation.

Now Red Riot was saying that he bought Izuku’s book?

Oh, that could mean three possible things. One, Red Riot was very aware of the disaster Izuku was, and thought of him as either entertaining or entertainingly sad. Two, because he worked with Red Riot, Bakugou could know of him, and Izuku would really rather die than ever meet that man again. And three, perhaps worst of all, Red Riot might not be the only pro-hero that knew who he was.

And all those ideas sounded awful.

Izuku sucked in a deep breath, and tried to think. The brightness from his multiple computer screens washed out his skin, making him seem paler than he already was. (He was editing when Hitoshi texted him.)

Why was he so stressed? This was fine. This was an easy issue to solve. Just have Red Riot ship the book to Izuku’s P.O. box, and he could send it back. Done. No face to face confrontation needed. Why was he making such a big fuss about all this?

Hitoshi sent him a picture, another screenshot from his conversation with Red Riot.

Kirishima: Also, if you could tell him, I feel kind of bad for not introducing myself. I’m a big fan, and I was kind of wondering if I could meet him?

Shinsou: Are you serious?

Kirishima: Yes? I get that he’s probably a busy guy, but I’d really like to meet him

Okay, never mind. Time for Izuku to die now. He’d leave the money in his bank account and Honeydew to his mom, and request that Hitoshi burn his journals. He’d prefer being cremated so there’d be no gravestone to commemorate his awkward life or his humiliating death.

Hitoshi texted him.

Hitoshi: Want me to tell him to fuck off?

Oh no. Death canceled. Izuku was typing before he knew it.

Izuku: No! I don’t want you to be mean to him !

He didn’t want to actually meet Red Riot or be in the same room as him, but Izuku also couldn’t stand being rude to people. Still, the side of him afraid of everything smothered the side that couldn’t be mean to save his life.

Izuku: Can you just tell him I’m too busy?

Izuku: But if he mails me his book, i’ll still sign it

Hitoshi didn’t respond for a minute. Izuku shifted in his chair, anxious. Then, three little dots appeared on screen, and a message.

Hitoshi: Done.

Izuku made a little sound in the back of his throat, part relief and part gratitude. He really couldn’t have asked for a better friend.


 

The next week passed by faster than Izuku would have liked. He went to work on Tuesday and Thursday, editing on his off days and compiling research for a video on Hawks. He remembered to feed Honeydew more than he remembered to cook for himself. And speaking of, he went to the vet to pick up a refill Honeydew’s eye medication. His poor baby, she was almost eleven years old and her eyes were getting a little cloudier than they already were.

Izuku could almost say that he forgot about Red Riot, except that it was impossible.

Red Riot knows you exist, Red Riot watches your videos, Red Riot wants your autograph, Red Riot Red Riot Red Riot-

(It was exhausting, to say the least.)

The stream of thoughts hummed at the back of his mind for a week, until Izuku went to his P.O. box to pick up his fan mail. He typically went around once a month, but he wanted to be prompt about this. This time, he got mostly letters, but there were a few flat packages and one box.

The box felt heavy in his backpack, weighing him down more than all the letters combined.

Izuku took a deep breath once he got home, set everything on his kitchen counter. He took a knife from a drawer and picked up the box. He cut through the tape slowly, though it wasn’t much of a struggle as he expected to open the package. Sitting inside, cushioned by a few sheets of crumpled newspaper, was a copy of his own book. The cheery yellow cover mocked him, insulted him with it’s optimism. Izuku picked up the book, running his fingers over the spine. His own name stared back at him.

Izuku took a pen laying on the counter and opened the front cover. There was a folded piece of notebook paper inside, and it fluttered to the ground. Izuku frowned, taking the paper and opening it.

Hi, Midoriya Deku!

The handwriting was a little messy.

I wanted to thank you so much for doing this for me. I’m a really big fan of yours!

The nervous sweats were returning with a vengeance, and Izuku fought the urge to put the paper down and maybe never touch it again.

I wish I could tell you how much your videos mean to me. You’re such a smart guy, and I love watching your stuff at the end of a long day.

Izuku blinked, uncomprehending. Red Riot liked his videos? That much was probably obvious, if he had a copy of Izuku’s book. But to tell him?

(Also, did Red Riot watch his hero or personal videos? Both?)

He rubbed the back of his neck, certain he was already blushing. Izuku kept reading.

And I’m sorry I couldn’t go to your book signing. Work kept me busy, but if you’re ever in Tokyo, give my agency a call! I’d love to meet you in person.

Izuku felt like he should stop reading. This was too personal, too nice. He just… out of all the things a pro hero could tell him, why all this? Izuku spent his entire childhood being told he was nothing. This… this had to be some kind of pity lie. Red Riot couldn’t really be serious about wanting Izuku to call his agency. That was just a courtesy. (Right?)

His eyes scanned the bottom of the page.

You make me smile almost every day, so please keep up the awesome work!

-Red Riot

(Kirishima Eijirou)

Izuku’s eyes widened. He reread that last line again. (He remembered when he wanted nothing more in the world than to be like All Might. To save the day with a smile. To be a hero.)

Izuku’s hands started shaking. He reread the letter once, then twice. He blinked, his eyes suddenly warm and wet. Why was he about to cry?

More importantly, how could Red Riot like his content so much? And could he really be honest inviting Izuku to his agency?

(Why would he include it if he didn’t mean it?)

And he called Izuku’s work awesome. That was a word he’s seen in the comment sections a few times, but Izuku rarely looked at those. (His nerves usually got the best of him whenever he saw hate. Shameful, he knew.) But to hear that word from a pro hero? And to know he could make Red Riot smile?

What could Izuku make of all this?

A small voice in his head said that there was an actual possibility that the hero was being sincere. The more easily stressed part of his mind (i.e. most of his mind) beat it into submission.

A teardrop fell from his cheek, blotting the paper. Izuku rubbed his eyes with his sleeve, setting the note aside. The blank first page of his book was still sitting on his kitchen counter. Izuku picked up his pen again, holding it over the book for a moment. Then, he began writing.

Dear Red Riot,

Thank you so much for your note, I was so surprised to find it! I’m so happy to hear you like my content, and I hope I can continue to make you smile!

Sincerely,

Midoriya Izuku

It wasn’t nearly as long as Red Riot’s note, but Izuku meant every word. And as a last-minute personal touch, Izuku added a few stars next to his name.

The simplest thing to do was to mail the book back to the return address on the box. However, Izuku wasn’t expecting Red Riot to be so nice to him. (He didn’t realize how much he meant to the hero.) Izuku knew that just returning the book wouldn’t be enough for himself.

Later that day, after spending a few hours stewing in the possible ways it could go right and wrong, he decided to go through with it. He sat on the couch, Honeydew in his lap and phone in hand.

Izuku: I got Red Riot’s book today.

Hitoshi: And?

Izuku: I need you to carry a message for me.

Hitoshi: Is something wrong?

Izuku: No, I just changed my mind about something.


 

Eijirou’s phone buzzed a week after he shipped his book to Deku’s P.O. box, and two weeks after seeing his favorite Youtuber on the street in Musutafu. He was alone in the locker room of the agency, changing out of his costume. Eijirou quickly threw on his civilian clothes and picked up his phone.

Shinsou: Midoriya got your book. He’s mailing it back tomorrow but he wanted me to tell you something.

Eijirou bit his lip despite his sharp teeth. Since he couldn’t meet Deku in person, he wrote a note with his book, just to express the smallest portion of the gratitude he felt for the Youtuber. Did he do something wrong?

Eijirou: What is it?

Shinsou: He wants to talk to you on Skype. Or face time or whatever.

Eijirou stared at the message. Deku really wants to talk to him?

Eijirou: Oh wow yeah that’d be awesome!

Was Eijirou really going to meet Midoriya Deku?

He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, undeniably giddy. He wished he could tell his friends. He wished he could tell anyone about this, but he remembered Shinsou’s words. Quickly, Eijirou looked over his shoulder, just to make sure he was still alone. Then he smiled and went back to his phone.

Shinsou: He also doesn’t want me to be the middleman anymore. So here.

His next text was a phone number.

Holy fuck.

Eijirou: THANK YOU so much dude! Omfg you’re the best!

Shinsou: But Kirishima

Eijirou was ready to pour countless heart emojis onto his old classmate. He saw the message and frowned. Shinsou didn’t often use his personal name (at least, not since high school).

Shinsou: I expect you to delete Deku’s contact info once you don’t need it. And if you scare or hurt him in any way, you aren’t getting a second chance.

Shinsou: I will find you, and I’ll make you regret whatever it is you do to him.  

Shinsou: Do you understand?

Eijirou’s breath caught in his throat. It wasn’t the shock of being threatened, not even by someone he knew. It was the idea that Shinsou thought Eijirou would even consider hurting Deku.

(There had to be a reason why.)

He typed his next message carefully.

Eijirou: I understand. Thank you again for doing this for me

Three little dots appeared immediately, then faded as the next text appeared.

Shinsou: Don’t mention it.

Eijirou got the impression that the conversation was over.

Whatever kind of relationship Deku had with Shinsou, they were definately much closer than Eijirou thought.


 

Izuku laid in bed, burrowed in his blankets, after telling Hitoshi to give his number to Red Riot. As much as he appreciated his friend, Izuku should be able to take care of himself. He didn’t need a messenger.

He convinced himself that he could -should- be able to do this alone.

(But if he was so confident in himself, why was he hiding in bed?)

Izuku closed his eyes, breathing in and out. He paused when he heard Honeydew squeeze past the open door, her nails clicking against the hardwood floor. She pawed at Izuku’s bed, whining softly. Izuku rolled over, finder her watching him with her big, black eyes. Izuku wriggled out of his blankets and scooped her up with one arm.

“What do you want, Honey-Bunny?”

She squirmed until she was tucked up inside his covers with him. Honeydew started pawing at him, urging him to give her attention. Izuku pat her belly, running his fingers through her soft fur. It’s been a while since the last time Honeydew’s been this demanding. She’s gotten used to sleeping next to his bed since he got her a few years ago.

He couldn’t resist cooing at her, “Do you want to meet a pro hero too, Honey-D?”

Honeydew didn’t answer. Her eyes closed as Izuku scratched her behind her ear. A chat with Red Riot was probably inevitable, but Izuku wished he’d be able to hold onto Honeydew for it. She was great moral support.

His dog readjusted herself so she was laying with her head tucked under his chin. Her whiskers tickled his throat, and Izuku stifled a laugh. For a moment, he forgot about Hitoshi and Red Riot. About future conversations and his lackluster life. He just wanted to lay in bed with his dog.

Chapter Text

The night after Izuku convinced Hitoshi to give his phone number to Red Riot, he got a text.

Hi! This is Red Riot

Izuku stared at his phone screen. He kept staring until his phone buzzed again.

But please don’t be afraid to call me Kirishima

Izuku set down his knife, ignoring the dinner he was about to start cooking for himself, and grabbed his phone. He didn’t think he’d be contacted so soon.

He started typing.

Izuku: Hello, Red Riot.

He erased that before sending. Too formal.

Izuku: Hi, Kiris-

No, he started erasing that as well. That was too casual, but then again, Red Riot also gave him permission to use his personal name. Would it be rude to still call him by his hero name?

Izuku decided the best thing to do was to follow Red Riot’s request.

Izuku: Hi, Kirishima

Izuku: I’m happy I could talk to you.

Which was true, he was still thankful for Red Riot’s letter, but Izuku was already starting to feel the vice grip of anxiety squeeze his chest. He probably still sounded too formal, especially if Red Riot was already asking him to call him by his real name. Izuku also added the unknown number to his contacts list, just so he wouldn’t forget to do it later. His thumbs hovered over the screen, hesitating.

He saved the name as Red Riot.

(Better to keep his distance.)

Red Riot: Same! I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to do this. I’m sure you’re really busy

Red Riot texted so casually. Should Izuku be doing that too?

Izuku: Don’t worry about it! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

He didn’t want to seem overly formal, but really did still want to be as polite as possible. The only problem was that Izuku didn’t know if Red Riot remembered him from high school.

(But what if that was why Red Riot offered his real name? Did he remember the Quirkless, scrawny human disaster from Gen Ed? He couldn’t have…)

Izuku sucked in a breath, trying to calm himself. He was fine. He was fine, because Red Riot certainly wouldn’t ever remember someone like him.

Red Riot: Awesome! So, sorry if this is really soon, but are you free this weekend?

Izuku blinked. He looked at the small calendar propped on his counter. It was Wednesday night, and that just felt too soon, even with a two day buffer between now and the earliest they could potentially talk.

Izuku: I’m sorry, but I’ll be a little busy. What about the next weekend?

A small part of him felt terrible for lying, but Izuku’s confidence probably peaked in his first year of high school. Possible prolonged social interactions with people, especially people like Red Riot, needed at least a few more days to hype himself up for.

Speaking of, Red Riot didn’t immediately respond. Izuku started pacing around his kitchen, growing restless.

He probably should have been more considerate. He was talking to a pro hero, after all. His schedule was much more important than Izuku’s ever will be and-

A message popped on screen.

Red Riot: Just checked my patrol schedule. I’m free next Sunday night. Is that okay?

Izuku stopped pacing. It wasn’t like he could push back any further than. At least not without seeming rude. (Plus, it wasn’t like he did anything other than film and edit on his weekends, either.)

Izuku: That’s fine!

Why was he clutching his phone so tightly?

Red Riot: Great! But I’d appreciate it if you could keep this low-key, you know? It’d be nice not having people trying to find me on my night off.

Izuku read the message carefully. It never occurred to him to tell anyone else, except maybe Hitoshi. But he understood the potential danger of spilling a pro hero’s schedule. (Press, overly-enthusiastic fans, a plucky criminal running amok knowing there was no Red Riot to stop them…)

Izuku: I understand. I promise I won’t tell anyone.

The gravity of the situation was starting to weigh on his shoulders, making Izuku feel immensely small, but strangely intrusive. He was like a leaf in the wind, or a blade of grass in a field, forcing something much bigger and stronger than him to bend to his will. He kind of wished he agreed to this weekend, but felt like it was too late now. The date Red Riot was happy with was set, and Izuku could at least try to adhere to that.


 

By Friday, two days after initially speaking to Red Riot, Izuku was proud of himself for not spontaneously combusting yet. He was giving the final edits to the script of his next analysis, a heavily fan requested video on Shoto after his three-part critique on Endeavor(not a Me Time video!).

But Izuku still hadn’t told Hitoshi the details about what was going to happen. Granted, it wasn’t like his friend was blowing up his phone with messages. Hitoshi trusted Izuku to come to him if he needed help, especially now that he’s been getting better at taking care of himself.

And there technically wasn’t anything wrong in Izuku’s life. He remembered to buy this week’s groceries and go to work at the Spilled Ink. He’s been regularly showering for over a year now, and Izuku has a more consistent uploading schedule than ever before. (The fear of failing his fans was mostly what kept that streak up.)

It was just that… he was kind of tired of running to Hitoshi for help. He didn’t want to be a burden anymore.

Plus, he was doing fine on his own (besides the panic attack he nearly had in front of Ground Zero a week ago). Izuku successfully set up contact with Red Riot. There wasn’t any need to go to his best friend, but them want was eating away at him. A leaden ball of dread that Izuku’s probably been carrying his entire life was growing just a little bit heavier, and he couldn’t tell why. Was he already getting nervous for the video chat with Red Riot?

That wouldn’t be out of character for him, but still. Izuku shifted in his seat, trying to dislodge the ball of nerves from his stomach (no such luck). His eyes moved over the long document on his screen, propping his chin on one hand.

When looking through images to use for his video, Izuku had to continuously stare at the same blue and gray eye, the same red and white hair, that he saw in high school. Izuku never actually interacted with him in high school, never had the guts to talk to any of the heroics course kids, but he still wondered. Was Shoto as cold as he looked?

(What about Red Riot?)

Izuku blinked. Was this why he was so anxious? After all, he couldn’t imagine why a pro hero would want to meet him, if not to ridicule him. He didn’t want to, but Izuku was already imagining it.

Making most of your money as a professional fanboy huh? Living the dream much?

You live in your mom’s basement?

You’re voice is so grating.

What happened to your hero videos? Or did you just get lazy?

You’re just a twink trying to sound smart.

Izuku mentally slapped himself, cheeks only slightly flushed. Some of those weren’t even his own insecurities. The little voice at the back of his head was just mimicking a few of the many colorful comments left on his videos.

Comments that Red Riot could make.

Izuku bit his lip and glanced at the phone sitting at the corner of his desk.

(He’s gone and done it. He’s made himself anxious. Again.)

Izuku picked up his phone. Was he going to be bothering Hitoshi? It was Friday night, and he might already be on patrol. It would probably be better for Izuku not to say anything. But maybe, after his last phone got demolished on a patrol, Hitoshi stopped carrying it on him? Maybe he left it at home, were Izuku’s texts wouldn’t disturb him.

Maybe he was already getting tired of coddling Izuku, especially after doing so much for him lately.

Izuku set his phone down. Red Riot was always so nice to fans, and during interviews. He wouldn’t go this far just to mock him. (Unless, like Izuku worried, Red Riot wasn’t the only hero who knew about him. And that they all hated him. For a variety of reasons.)

Izuku got up and went to the kitchen, walking past Honeydew on the way. His journal was sitting on the counter. Izuku flipped through the pages until he found Red Riot’s letter. He read through it again and stopped at the last line.

You make me smile almost every day, so please keep up the awesome work!

Red Riot didn’t have to write a letter. He didn’t have to say any of this, but he did. Izuku folded the note and tucked it back into his journal. He didn’t need to bother Hitoshi about this. Izuku could handle himself.

He took a deep breath, and went back to his office. He was fine. He was fine.


 

Although Eijirou loved daytime patrols, it was optimal time to interact with as many people as possible, Katsuki preferred late night ones. Still, there were at least a few times a week when they went out together, usually late in the evening like now.

They left their agency and started for their usual route. Eijirou took in a deep breath of early October air, the sun still in the sky but hanging low over the horizon. He rolled his shoulders as a chilly breeze went by. Eventually, he was going to need to swap his ordinary costume for his winter version. He glanced at Katsuki’s bare shoulders, knowing his friend would need to do the same.

After a few minutes of walking, Eijirou said, “Bet I can bag more baddies than you.”

Katsuki smirked, teeth bared. “You’re on, Red Head.”

Katsuki, under the eye of several fans just now spotting them, blasted himself into the air. Eijirou watched him soar, becoming a beacon in the fading sky, until Katsuki landed on the nearest roof. This was a benefit of their shared patrols, eyes on the ground and eyes above. (Plus, Katsuki’s naturally competitive attitude.)

Eijirou checked the comm link in his ear.

He asked, “Hear me, Zero?”

A voice replied, “Yeah, yeah. Keep your eyes open, or I’ll leave you in the dust.”

“Pft. You wish.”

The day started off calm, despite Katsuki’s craving for something to do. Eijirou waved to everyone who called out his name and posed for a picture with a group of middle school boys. They thanked him profusely, bouncing on the balls of their feet in a way that made Eijirou remember when he was their age (and wow didn’t that make him feel old). A few people spotted Katsuki going from roof to roof, calling out to him. Eijirou laughed as Katsuki propelled himself further into the air.

He said, “Always the people person.”

“Shut up, Riot. I’m doing my job, aren’t I?”

Eijirou rolled his eyes, still smiling.

An hour later, he paused his patrol to help an old woman carry her groceries a few blocks to her apartment. When he left the building, he heard a voice in his ear.

“You’re so fucking nice it’s gross.”

Eijirou smirked, eyes scanning the nearby roofs for his partner.

“Isn’t this what we’re here for? To help people?”

“Hnnn… you see anything we can punch yet?”

The street Eijirou was on was busy, but nothing out of the ordinary. “Nope. What do you see from up there?”

“A whole lot of nothing.”

“Let’s keep going, then.”

An uneventful patrol was rare, but not unheard of. Eijirou was mostly concerned that if nothing happened, he’d be spending the rest of his day sparring with Katsuki to burn off their excess energy. (Not that he’d ever refuse more training! It was always better to have more than less!)

Eijirou traveled to a more crowded part of the city when he felt it. A little tremor passed through the ground, jolting through his legs. An earthquake?

“Riot.”

He reached for his earpiece, looking for his partner. “Did you feel that from up there?”

He found Katuski perched on the edge of a building, eyes trained on something that Eijirou couldn’t see.

“There’s smoke a few blocks away.”

Katsuki launched himself into the air, speeding for whatever it was he saw. Eijirou started sprinting, following his partner.


 

Izuku was covering someone else’s shift at the Spilled Ink on Sunday when his eye drifted to the TV behind the counter. There was no sound, but subtitles for a news station. The screen showed an aerial view of Red Riot and Ground Zero, as well as a villain at least thirty feet tall. Izuku paused what he was doing. The shop wasn’t very busy, and he wasn’t the only one that noticed. Nakamura, his co-worker, and a few of their customers were drawn to the screen.

Size didn’t seem to be the only part of the villain’s Quirk. They had strength as well, ripping street lamps from the ground and tossing cars through the air. The street they were on seemed deserted, although there was a cluster of police cars behind Red Riot and Ground Zero.

Izuku watched closely, paying attention to the villain. There was a bluish sheen to his skin, and his eyes were a solid black color. He was gritting his teeth, apparently not pleased with the heroes sent to fight him.

Ground Zero distracted the villain as Red Riot got behind him, arm hardened and attempting to attack. He was swatted to the side at the last second, only to roll to his feet and charge again.

Red Riot hardened his entire torso, bowling into the back of the villain’s leg and knocking them off balance. He jumped onto the villain’s back, drawing blood with his jagged skin. As the villain attempted to pull him off, the bluish sheen to the his skin looked like it was glowing brighter.

The villain took hold of Red Riot’s leg and flung him to the side. But with his partner out of the way, Ground Zero dive bombed from above, performing his infamous Howitzer Impact-

(reckless, in an urban environment)

-and blasted the villain in a burst of light. Izuku flinched away from the TV, almost feeling that heat on his face.

Only when the explosions and smoke faded did Izuku look back at the screen. He sucked in a breath and his eyes widened. The helicopter the footage was probably being filmed from seemed to be moving away from the fight.

The villain now towered over the nearest buildings, at least five stories tall and almost large enough to rival Mt. Lady. The blue sheen to his skin was certainly brighter than before.

Izuku tilted his head. Could the transfer of energy be making him larger? But then, how would he have grown as large as he did before Ground Zero’s massive explosion?

Red Riot, absolutely unperturbed by his opponent’s increase in size, charged in from the side while his partner distracted the villain. He jumped, swinging his arm across the back of the villain’s knee, slicing flesh, but his opponent barely noticed.

Izuku continued to watch the fight (justified because everyone else’s attention was drawn to the TV now!), paying attention to the villain’s appearance. In only a few minutes, he grew more than twenty feet and his skin went from a bluish sheen to a nearly white aura.

Izuku blinked. He… he grew stronger the longer he fought. Heroes like Red Riot and Ground Zero weren’t going to beat him without some sort of alternative strategy. Izuku bit his lip, hoping that either he was wrong, or that the villain’s Quirk had a limit.


 

No matter what they did, this guy wasn’t going down. Eijirou wiped the blood and sweat from his forehead, sleeves frayed at the hems. How long have they been fighting now? Ten minutes? Fifteen? That didn’t seem like long, but already, the villain caused massive amounts of damage to the street and to several police cruisers.

He saw Katsuki launch himself from the ground, blasting a barrage of AP shots at the villain’s back.

“Hey, Riot.”

“What?”

Katsuki landed on the ground, sprinting for him. “I’m sick of this guy. Let’s do Unbreakable Bullet.”

Eijirou couldn’t help but grin. He started running toward Katsuki. “If you can get it right this time.”

With no hesitation, Eijirou stopped in front of the villain. Katsuki propelled himself the remaining few yards and landed behind him.

Eijirou felt both of Katsuki’s palms on his lower back. He said, “Aim high.”

“I know what to do!”

Then a few things happened at once. The villain lunged for them. Eijirou hardened his entire body, arms crossed in front of his face. Then, he felt only a mild heat as Katsuki blasted him into the air.

Eijirou watched as everything around him blurred together for half a second, then felt the shockwave of an impact.

He was falling through the air now, watching almost in slow motion as the villain’s head jerked back and he fell to the ground with an earth-shaking thud. Eijirou remembered to keep his Quirk up before he hit the ground. He grunted, but the street crumbled beneath his weight. A few seconds later, a blond head appeared over him, smirking.

“We did it?”

Katsuki snorted. “ ‘Course we did.”

Eijirou propped himself up on his elbows, watching the villain, either stunned or unconscious, slowly shrink and lose the strange glow around his body. Katsuki offered him a hand, and Eijirou took it.

“Ugh, that took fucking forever.”

“Language, Zero. You’re still on duty.” Eijirou made his way toward the villain, to make sure he was really down. 

“Like that’s ever stopped me!”

The villain laid in the middle of a crater made by his own body. He had a pretty ugly broken nose, and was undoubtedly incapacitated. Eijirou let the police force come in and do their thing, but helped them carry the villain’s unconscious body into one of their vehicles.

“Red Riot?”

He turned, finding an ambulance and a paramedic behind the police cars. She smiled at him. “I can take a look at that cut on your head.”

“Oh, thanks.”

He almost forgot he was bleeding. Luckily, he wouldn’t be needing stitches. His wound was cleaned and he was advised to get some rest.

He walked side by side with Katuski on the way back to the agency, letting the police take over the scene. The sky was dark now, and Eijirou really wanted a hot shower.

“So…” he said, “that was pretty much our best Unbreakable Bullet yet.”

Katsuki sighed, frustrated. “I was going for his chest.”

Eijirou laughed. Katsuki was always the perfectionist. “So, like I said. Our best one yet.”

“You’d be easier to aim if you weren’t so fucking heavy.”

Eijirou snorted, laughing and nudging Katsuki’s shoulder with his own. Was his best friend still salty over being shorter than him? (He’s had since their third year of high school to get over it.)

When they got back to the agency, Eijirou revelled in the feeling of changing into his soft hoodie and track pants. He stopped by the office to pick up his phone, finding that he had a few messages waiting for him. He scrolled through them as he and Katsuki took the elevator down to the first floor.

Mom: Saw your fight just now. Gave me and Mama a scare! Still so proud of you though! Tell Katsuki we said hi!

Eijirou smiled. He elbowed Katsuki’s side.

“My moms said hi.”

Katsuki grunted in response, distracted by his own phone and what may or may not have been a text from his own parents.

Eijirou: He says hi back :)

He moved on to a text from Mina, congratulating him for his most accurate Unbreakable Bullet to date. He sent a thanks, reminding her that Katsuki did most of the work.

He paused when he got to his last unread text.

Midoriya Deku: Hi, Red Riot. I really hope I’m not bothering you too much, but I saw your fight on TV. I was just wanted to know if you were okay? Again, so sorry if I’m bothering you!

Eijirou couldn’t help but smile, and he couldn’t stop the warm, fuzzy feeling in his chest. He knew Deku was a nice guy, but this was just so sweet.

Eijirou: Yeah! Don’t worry you aren’t bothering me at all! Thanks for checking in on me!

Out of all the things a hero youtuber could say, could gush about, it was kind of touching that Deku would choose to make sure he wasn’t hurt.


 

Izuku reread the text from Red Riot. He was on his way home now, jacket wrapped tightly around himself to protect him from the cold night air. He couldn’t pay attention to the entirety of Red Riot and Ground Zero’s fight (he was supposed to be working), and only caught the aftermath when the villain was subdued. He noticed Red Riot speaking to a paramedic, though. Izuku was relieved that he wasn’t hurt, and even more so that he wasn’t being intrusive.

But watching Red Riot fight struck something inside Izuku. It was something different from watching almost any other hero on a screen, whether it was a fight or an interview. It was different from meeting All Might as a teenager, and from seeing Ground Zero on TV.

It was the realization that Red Riot was a person. A real person who he went to highschool with, who Izuku somehow forgot could get injured. And he found himself worried. Afraid, even, for someone infinitely out of his league when it came to protecting himself.

He felt compelled to check in on Red Riot. So he sent a text. Just one, a quick message to make sure he was okay. Izuku honestly thought he wouldn’t get a response, because why would Red Riot give him any attention after a strenuous fight like that?

But he got an answer, and no idea what to do next.

And was he supposed to reply now? Red Riot answered him, so it felt like he didn’t need to respond, but who knew? Izuku certainly wasn’t the best when it came to people. But he wouldn’t know what to say if he did try, and from experience, he learned that saying nothing was better than making a fool of himself.

Izuku tucked his phone into his jacket pocket and hurried home.


 

A few days after the fight against the massive villain, Eijirou got an email from the agency’s mail room.

Got something you might be interested in.

-Hino

Eijirou didn’t often get messages directly from them, and took the elevator down after finishing up the paperwork he already started. Hino, an employee Eijirou’s gotten to know well over the years, nodded at him. “Hey.”

He tossed a thin, square package to Eijirou. He caught it (they both knew he would) and flipped it over. He sucked in a breath, it was from Deku.

“So, should I be telling PR that you may or may not be buddies with Midoriya Deku?”

Eijirou looked up. “You know him?”

Hino laughed. “Yeah, I love his videos.”

While Eijirou would love nothing more than to fellow to a fellow fan about Deku, or to announce to the world that they would be meeting, Shinsou’s request (and mild threat) echoed in his mind. No telling anyone, for some reason.

Eijirou rubbed the back of his neck. “Ah, can you actually keep this quiet? It’s just for personal reasons.”

Hino shrugged. “You’re technically my boss. You can make me do whatever you want.”

Sometimes Eijirou forgot that this was his own agency. He just had other people managing it.

He smiled. “Thank, I really appreciate it.”

Already having a good idea of what was in the box, Eijirou stuffed it into the bottom drawer of his desk and tried not to pay attention to it for the rest of the day. He would admit, tearing it open might be a little unprofessional, and the content of the box would definitely tick Katsuki off.

Instead, paperwork was filed, Eijirou got an offer for an interview with Tokyo Heros, and had to take over a call meant for an increasingly irritated Katsuki.

When the day ended, Eijirou tucked the package into his messenger bag and went home. In his bedroom, away from prying eyes, he finally tore it open. A yellow novel sat inside the box, waiting patiently for him. Eijirou picked it up, excitedly opening the front cover. He sucked in a breath, seeing more than just an autograph.

Dear Red Riot,

Thank you so much for your note, I was so surprised to find it! I’m so happy to hear you like my content, and I hope I can continue to make you smile!

Sincerely,

Midoriya Izuku

Eijirou reread the short note, taking in the neat handwriting. And oh wow , that was Midoriya Deku’s (Izuku’s? What was he supposed to call the youtuber when they meet?) signature! With several cute little stars sketched next to his name too.

Back when he mailed his book out, Eijirou didn’t think much of the letter he wrote. He just wanted to let Midoriya know at least a fraction of how much Eijirou loved his content.

He flipped to the first page of the book, eyes skimming the introduction. He couldn’t wait to talk to Midoriya on Sunday.


 

In the days leading up to his video chat with Red Riot, Izuku was doing everything imaginable to distract himself. He filmed and edited (a burst of productivity he hasn’t seen in weeks), he went to work at the Spilled Ink, took Honeydew on extra walks, jogged more, and stress ate. The desperate desire to not embarrass himself in front of a pro hero had grown since the last week.

Izuku caved. He picked up his phone.

Izuku: So, you remember going to school with Red Riot, right?

He edited his next video for an hour before Hitoshi texted back.

Hitoshi: Yeah, why?

Izuku saw the message and started rapidly typing on his phone.

Izuku: He’s nice, right?

Hitoshi: What do you mean?

Izuku: He wouldn’t judge me for stuttering, or being awkward?

Hitoshi: You’re worried about talking to him, aren’t you?

Izuku felt a shameful, nervous blush on his face.

Izuku: Why wouldn’t I be? He’s a pro hero. And he knows I exist!

Hitoshi: I’m a pro tho. You aren’t nervous around me.

Izuku bit his lip.

Izuku: Not the point. You’re my friend and I’ve seen you get drunk and cry about how much you love your cat.

Izuku has known Hitoshi for almost a decade. There wasn’t much hidden between them anymore.

Hitoshi: And you think Red Riot hasn’t done something equally stupid? Or dumber?

Hitoshi: Look, you know I hate people but he’s actually a nice guy. If he wasn’t I wouldn’t have given him your number. So just be yourself, and don’t worry.

Hitoshi: I can guarantee that he’s nervous about talking to you too.

Izuku frowned. That was absolutely not likely. Izuku’s seen interviews with Red Riot over the years, usually for only moments at a time before switching channels or closing the tab. (Watching heroes he went to school with wasn’t easy.) Red Riot was so proud of himself, so kind and generous. Izuku couldn’t possibly intimidate someone like that.

Still, he texted Hitoshi so his friend could at least think he was okay.

Izuku: Thanks, Toshi. But you promise he isn’t like, secretly mean?

(He was close to Ground Zero. Izuku didn’t forget that.)

Hitoshi: Nope. Probably couldn’t be mean if he tried. So don’t stress about it, alright? And tell me how it goes.

Izuku breathed a soft sigh of relief. Hitoshi himself wasn’t the best with people, but it was comforting that the chance of Red Riot mocking Izuku was potentially smaller than he thought.

(But he wouldn’t know for sure until Sunday night, only three days away now.)

All he could do was wait now.


Eijirou took a deep breath, running a hand through his hair. It wasn’t up now, he took a shower after a morning workout and was just using a headband to keep it out of his eyes. But now he wondered if he should have redone it. His hair was part of his look, what if Midoriya thought he was being sloppy? And maybe he should have changed his clothes before now too?

Eijirou looked down at himself. He was in a clean red t-shirt and some sweatpants, but it wasn’t like Midoriya was going to see his lower half. It was supposed to be a casual meeting, so he was probably fine. Eijirou looked back at his laptop screen. He was alone in his home office, Katsuki somewhere else in the apartment.

He and Midoriya fine tuned the details over the last few days, and it was finally happening. Opening Skype wasn’t nearly as dramatic as he expected it to be, finding MidoriyaDeku1 wasn’t as thrilling as he thought it’d be, but the wait was utterly nerve wracking. Butterflies stirred in his stomach, reminding him that holy shit this was actually going to happen! Then the call connected and a face appeared on the screen.

Years of having cameras suddenly filming him kicked Eijirou into picture-perfect high gear.

He spoke first. “Hi! Wow, it’s so awesome to finally meet you!”

Midoriya Deku (Izuku?) blinked, leaning back slightly in his seat. There was surprisingly little lag.

“Oh, uh, hi! I’m happy to meet you too.”

Could Eijirou see a hint of red on Midoriya’s cheeks?

He ignored it. “Hey listen, thanks so much for signing my book! I would’ve gone to your signing if I wasn’t too busy!”

Midoriya laughed, high pitched and short.

“Oh yeah, I wasn’t expecting to see you in Musutafu. But Hitoshi mentioned you were chasing the same villain.”

Eijirou cocked his head to the side. Hitoshi? How long has Midoriya known him? (Were they together? Or was Midoriya just using Shinsou’s hero name?)

Eijirou decided not to question it.

“Oh, Hitoshi was a huge help. He really made everything easier for me and Ground Zero. But-” he leaned away from his laptop screen, picking up the novel at the corner of his desk, “I did get your book in the mail a few days ago!”

He smiled, proudly showing it off.

“I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to finish, but I’ve already read a few pages!”

Midoriya’s cheeks turned a deep shade of red, reaching his neck. He brought a hand to his face, covering his mouth.

“Ah, I- I’m really happy you like it.”

(Adorable!) Eijirou hushed that side of his brain as he set the book to the side.

He smiled again. “It’s so cool that you can write so much about heroes. Where do you get all that motivation from?”

Midoriya blinked, not saying anything for a moment.

“It’s uh… I’m not sure, really. Heroes have always been an… interest of mine. So I just wrote what I thought about them.”

Eijirou whistled, impressed. The book was a few hundred pages long, and just from flipping through it the other day, Eijirou didn’t see much that was already covered by Midoriya’s channel. So he wondered how much was in Midoriya’s head to make this much content.

He leaned closer to the screen, propping his elbow on his desk and his chin on his palm. He raised an eyebrow. “So, do you have a favorite hero, then?”

Midoriya sputtered and mumbled a few rushed words, all while waving his hands through the air. He really was as lively in real life as he was in his videos.

“I, well, I don’t think I have a favorite, actually.”

Midoriya was playing with his hands now, distracting himself, and not really looking at the screen.

“I used to be the biggest All Might fan when I was a kid. But now? I’m not so sure.”

His eyes, so big and green, darted toward Eijirou. “This might be kind of weird to ask, but do you have a favorite? I mean- maybe an older hero you admire? Because I guess it’d be strange looking up to another pro…”

Eijirou straightened up, “Oh, that’s an easy question to answer!”

He flexed his arm, showing off his bicep. (He didn’t miss how Midoriya’s eyes widened even more.)

“Crimson Riot! The manliest hero ever!”

He neglected to mention that he’s watched Midoriya’s twenty minute long video on Crimson Riot. Multiple times. Sent it to everyone in his group chat, even. His heart still skips a beat everytime he hears himself being mentioned in that video, being part of Crimson’s influence. 

Midoriya asked, a little less shy now, “What do you like about him?”

Eijirou felt this warm, excited he’s really asking! sort of anticipation in his chest. He launched into a talk about his hero, about how cool and honorable and kind Crimson Riot was, despite his rugged Quirk. The entire time, Midoriya listened, sometimes nodding or humming in agreement. It felt like he was silently spurring Eijirou on, so completely and genuinely interested in what he had to say. Most people, even other heroes, didn’t give this much attention because Crimson Riot was an “older” hero, one of a past generation. But not Midoriya. He seemed to forget his nervousness, becoming enraptured in the talk of heroes.

The first time he actually stopped Eijirou was to correct him. “I’m sorry, but I think that happened after Crimson Riot’s fight against Canyon Crusher. I remember reading about it, and it took place the same year he chose to switch agencies.”

“No way!” Eijirou said, unperturbed, “That had to have happened before Canyon Crusher. It was so early in his career.”

Midoriya shot back with his own retort, and wow was this what hero fans felt like? Because it was kind of exciting to debate his favorite hero. After a few Moogle searches, Eijirou let out an exaggerated groaned admitted defeat.

“You have an awesome memory. That fight was so obscure it wasn’t even in his Miki page.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that! I just do a lot of research.”

He even made humble-bragging sound completely, well, humble.

Eijirou didn’t think his heart could take it.


 

Izuku started his call with Red Riot as worse of a wreck as he feared. He was nervous and sweaty, despite taking a cold shower beforehand, because his body hated him. He was afraid his clothes were too plain, or that Red Riot would notice how awkward he was without a script and the ability to retake a scene as many times as he wanted.

He didn’t expect to see a pro hero in a t-shirt and a headband. But Red Riot was not only pleasant and energetic (and mouth-wateringly muscular), but also kind of a fan boy. Izuku was initially taken aback by how much he knew about Crimson Riot, but he probably shouldn’t have doubted the man Red Riot took a part of his name from. Maybe Izuku kind of expected him to deny being such an enthusiast. Maybe it was because Red Riot was a hero himself.

Even witnessing Red Riot making a mistake was somehow enlightening. Izuku was once again reminded that this was a real person on the other end of the call. Still, Izuku was content to continue mainly listening to Red Riot when he heard the familiar jingle of metal tags.

He looked away from the screen, startled to see that he didn’t close the door entirely. Honeydew pawed at it until it was open wide enough for her to slip inside. Izuku looked back at the screen, apologetic.

“I’m so sorry, but my dog got into the room. I can just-”

Red Riot gasped, leaning in close to the camera. “Wait, Honeydew? Can I see her?”

Izuku startled slightly, taken back. (Honeydew, deciding that she wanted attention, was now whining at him.) He looked from the hero to the dog and to the hero again.

“Oh, um, sure.”

Izuku leaned down and picked up Honeydew. He pushed his keyboard to the side to let her sit on his desk.

Stars practically twinkled in Red Riot’s eyes. “She’s so cute!”

He waved, trying to get her attention. “Hi, Honeydew!”

Honeydew, not very entertained by some stranger’s voice, seemed only interested in belly rubs. Izuku smiled, scratching her behind the ear. “She’s such a little troublemaker.”

“No!” Red Riot laughed, “She’s an angel! Right, Honeydew?”

Izuku thought about how surreal it was that someone who’s never met Honey clearly adored her.

Honey yawned before laying down on Izuku’s desk (much to Red Riot’s delight). And as predicted, she was a great comfort to have in the room. Izuku kept one hand on her most of the time, soothing himself with her soft fur. He slowly felt the tension in his shoulders and stomach easing.

His biggest fear, being remembered from high school, didn’t seem like it would be an issue. There was no you seem familiar, have we met before?, or weren't you in Gen Ed? It was kind of sad, that Izuku was as forgettable as he thought he was. But also relieving to know that he was a stranger to Red Riot up until now.

And now that he wasn’t stressed about his past, Izuku began to take in the smaller details in the hero. Red Riot smiled a lot, and his sharp teeth weren’t actually as intimidating as he thought they’d be. His hair looked so soft when it wasn’t spiked up, offsetting his chiseled jawline.

Those passionate, red eyes were overwhelming, showing Izuku someone far more energetic than he was. It was also kind of exhausting, because Red Riot was so clearly an extrovert and Izuku’s anxious, little introvert heart was having difficulties keeping up. Still, he smiled, he spoke when spoken to, and tried to avoid looking at the small (cute) scar on Red Riot’s eyelid.

After stifling his second yawn, Izuku’s eyes darted toward the time, wondering how long it’s been.

“Oh wow.”

Red Riot paused. “Hm?”

Izuku rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s already been over an hour…”

He hoped he wasn’t sounding rude. It was past nine pm. Not incredibly late, but Izuku felt like he’s had a long day. However, he’d stay for as long as Red Riot wanted him to.

“Ah, sorry.” Red Riot laughed, apologetic. “I got a little carried away, didn’t I?”

“Oh, no, no-” Izuku started waving one arm nervously, catching Honeydew’s attention, “- It’s just that I, uh, I-”

Red Riot laughed again, not unkindly. “Don’t worry, I can get out of your hair now. It is pretty late.”

Izuku, reluctant to offend, still asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it’s no problem. Thanks so much for doing this for me.”

Izuku heave a massive, internal sigh of relief. He smiled timidly, “No, this was fun. I was happy to do it.”

He really was. Red Riot was everything Izuku envisioned in his best-case scenario.

“Have a good night!”

Red Riot smiled and waved one last time. “Thanks again. And goodnight to you too!”

Then the call ended. Izuku closed his eyes, rubbing them with the heels of both palms to relax. Out of all the ways the past hour could have gone wrong, nothing awful happened. Izuku would even say he enjoyed it.

And Red Riot, despite his fame, really was amazing.


 

“Thanks again. And goodnight to you too!”

Eijirou ended the call and sat back in his chair. He stared up at the ceiling, heart beating a little faster than usual. He couldn’t believe he spent an entire hour with Midoriya Deku. And the youtuber, despite his popularity, was…

smart

honest

precious

cute(?)

Yeah, there was no doubt about it. His hair and his eyes and his freckles and laugh in his videos were one thing, but seeing them all candid was another. And meeting him showed Eijirou two things.

One, Midoriya was about as genuine a person could get. There was probably no front put up for his videos. He was kind, accommodating, and way smarter than Eijirou expected.

And two, Eijirou’s heart ached a little at the realization of how far Midoriya was out of his league.

Chapter Text

Katsuki gritted his teeth, lips peeled back in a snarl.

No way. No fucking way.

Sitting by the window alone in Yuuei’s cafeteria, dressed in the same school uniform as him, was fucking Deku. Katsuki slammed his tray on the nearest table, startling the guy from his class with shitty red hair. He ignored the cries of surprise and indignity as he stormed across the room.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?”

The little shit, the little fucker who’s followed Katsuki his entire life, said nothing. His eyes were wide, mouth opening and closing as he tried to stutter out a response. Katsuki could begin to feel eyes on him, but he didn’t give a flying shit about anyone else. It was the first day of school, his first day at Yuuei, and Katsuki had it ruined by an ugly mop of green hair.

He barked, “Well? Answer me!”

He held out a hand, letting explosions pop and crackle across his palm. Even those tiny explosions were enough to get the nerd flinching away from him.

Deku sucked in a breath. “I told you...”

He looked up, his eyes meeting Katsuki’s, “I was going to get into Yuuei too, Kacchan.”

And there was that damned name. The most irritating reminder that he’s known this nerd for nearly his entire life.

“Deku-”

“Hey there!”

They both turned, Katsuki immediately leaning away from the massive blondie suddenly in his personal space. The guy was huge, and had to have been an upperclassman. He smiled at Katuski, blue eyes twinkling.

Blondie said, “Couldn’t help but notice you using your Quirk there! But you should know that we students aren’t supposed to use our Quirks outside of class.”

He clapped one massive hand on Katsuki’s shoulder, making him tense.

“I’d hate to report a first year on the first day of school, so why not go enjoy your lunch?”

Katsuki tried to rip himself from this guy’s hand, only to feel his hold tighten slightly. And the stupid upperclassman was still smiling. Katsuki wrinkled his nose, looking back at Deku.

“This isn’t over.”

Then he wrenched himself out of Blondie’s hand and stalked over to where he left his tray, not looking back. He dropped into a chair and started eating.

“Uh, it was Bakugou, right?” The guy with shitty hair asked, “So… what was that about?”

Four eyes, the guy losing his shit over Katsuki putting his feet on his desk earlier, started yelling, “Harassing your fellow students on our first day? Have you no shame?”

“Both of you, shut up!” Katsuki snapped.

He started wolfing down food, furious. Fucking Deku, how’d he even get in to Yuuei? There was no way he passed the practical portion of the entrance exam. Katsuki swallowed a mouthful of rice.

If Deku didn’t pass the practical exam, then he couldn’t have possibly gotten into the Heroics course.

He glanced back over at Deku. The big, blond guy was gone now and Deku was still eating alone. As he ate, he scribbled away in his stupid journal. Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. If Deku wasn’t in the hero class, then he had to have been in Gen Ed.

With all the other reject extras.

Katsuki couldn’t help but smile, baring more teeth than necessary. Even with Deku still trying to follow him, maybe Katsuki could have some fun.


Izuku should have seen it coming. But he couldn’t help himself, he was blinded by the constant stream of I’m in Yuuei I’m in Yuuei I’m in Yuuei ! ! ! going through his head the entire day.

Yes, it was still disappointing that he was in Gen Ed. Yes, Kacchan shouting at him during lunch was more than an unpleasant surprise, but Izuku refused to let anything dampen his spirits. He wanted to start his year off positive, no matter what.

But again, he really should have seen it coming. When the day ended, Kacchan found him outside of school with alarming efficiency. Maybe it was from experience, after cornering Izuku during all of middle school.

“Where do you think you’re going, Deku?”

Izuku heard that voice, and before he could even try to run away, a hand grabbed the back of his jacket. Izuku struggled, but this time, there was no older student to help him. None of his classmates noticed him being dragged away either, everyone still buzzing with first-day enthusiasm. Kacchan dragged him around the side of the nearest building, away from the crowd of departing students, and slammed Izuku’s back against the wall.

He grunted, the back of his head throbbing. A hand gripped the front of his jacket, keeping him in place.

“Deku…” Kacchan snarled.

Izuku tried not to flinch. He stared his childhood friend(?) down.

“Hi, Kacchan.”

Hearing that name only seemed to further enrage Kacchan. He asked, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“What do you mean?” But Izuku very much knew what he meant.

Kacchan raised an eyebrow, as if silently asking are you really that stupid?

“How the fuck did you follow me to Yuuei?”

Izuku’s brows furrowed. He swallowed dryly. He didn’t “follow” Kacchan here. He got into Yuuei with his own merit! He gripped Kacchan’s hand, trying to pull the other boy off of him. “I worked hard, just like you did! I got here because I earned it.”  

Kacchan only blinked, then barked out a laugh. The sound was sharp and cold and sent a shiver down Izuku’s spine. He’s heard that laugh so many times before.

Kacchan was smiling at him without a hint of kindness. “You idiot.”

He cocked his head to the side. “You aren’t in the Heroics course, so you have to be in one of the loser classes!”

He tugged Izuku away from the wall, only to push him back again. Izuku grunted as his back hit the wall once more.

“Are you saying that that’s the best you can do? Fucking typical of you, Deku.”

A small sound escaped Izuku’s throat as Kacchan raised his other hand. Tiny sparks popped and crackled in his palm. Izuku flinched away from them, remembering the scent of stinged hair and smoking clothes.

“I don’t think you should be doing that.”

Izuku and Kacchan both turned, finding another student standing a few feet away. Izuku stiffened, recognizing the boy from his class. His hair was a wild mess of purple, and he had both hands shoved casually into his pants pockets.

Kacchan sneered at him. “And who are you supposed to be?”

Shinsou (was that his name?) shrugged. “Someone who saw you dragging away another student as if no one would notice.”

He tilted his head to the side. “You seem awfully egotistical for a future hero, you know.”

Izuku wanted to warn him, to scream at him that Kacchan was the last person he should be insulting. But he could only stand there and watch as Kacchan opened his mouth.

“Who the fuck-”

Izuku felt the jolt that went through Kacchan’s body. He blinked, realizing that Kacchan had gone slack. There was a blank look in his eyes.

Izuku’s classmate said, “Let him go.”

The hand holding onto Izuku fell to Kacchan’s side. He was still staring blankly at the boy with purple hair.

Shinsou’s eyes drifted from Kacchan to Izuku. His head tilted to the side, gesturing behind him. “Come on, let’s leave.”

Izuku looked from him to Kacchan. To Kacchan’s empty eyes and slumped shoulders.

Shinsou sighed. “It’s nothing serious. I’ll let go of him once we’re a safe distance away.” He blinked, sounding disinterested. “Unless you want to stick around..?”

“N-no…” Izuku hurried away from Kacchan.

Once he was besides the other boy, Shinsou said, “When I let go, you’re going to forget that this interaction ever happened.”

Let go? What does that mean?

For a second, Izuku thought Shinsou was talking to him. But his eyes were still on Kacchan. (Some kind of manipulation Quirk?)

Then Shinsou turned around without another word, and Izuku had to start walking to keep up. He glanced over his shoulder. Kacchan hadn’t moved at all.

“I told you not to worry about him.” 

Izuku looked back to Shinsou. “Oh… uh… but you aren’t supposed to use your Quirk outside of class.”

The boy shrugged. “You can report me if you want. But you didn’t look like you were enjoying the situation.”

Izuku shook his head. “Oh, no, no that’s not what I meant! Thank you, but um, aren’t you worried about getting in trouble?”

His classmate scoffed. “My Quirk lets me control other people. I told him to forget our conversation once he snaps out of it.”

Izuku swallowed, wondering exactly what this boy could do. They reached the school’s gate in silence. Izuku turned to go home, surprised when Shinsou also went the same way.

He felt like it’d be awkward to keep walking in silence. “Um, I’m Midoriya, by the way. We’re in the same class.”

Izuku actually sat behind him, but he wasn’t sure if the other boy remembered him.

After a pause, he said, “I’m Shinsou.”

Ah, at least Izuku got his name right. He couldn’t help but ask, “So, do you mind me asking what your Quirk is?”

Shinsou glanced down at him for a moment, then looked away. “It’s called Brainwashing. I can take control of anyone who responds to me.”

Izuku’s eyes widened. He couldn’t help but get excited, he was a true fanboy at heart. “That is so cool! You don’t have to make physical contact or anything? And can you control multiple people at once?”

Shinsou stared at him, eyes narrowed. He looked like he was studying Izuku.

“My Quirk is entirely verbal. And yes, but I might pass out if I control too many people at once.”

He kept staring at Izuku. “You aren’t scared?”

Izuku cocked his head to the side. “Of what?”

“Of me?”

Izuku frowned. “Why would I be scared? You’re Quirk is so powerful! You’d be an amazing long distance fighter, especially considering that so many heroes nowadays specialize in close combat. And your Quirk would give you an advantage in capturing missions...”

Izuku launched into a ramble that was half ideas and half mutterings when he realized that they had walked a block without Shinsou saying anything. He paused, suddenly shy. Shinsou’s eyes were wide, his lips slightly parted. Izuku remembered that he was also in Gen Ed.

“I mean all of this assuming you want to be a hero! Obviously not everyone wants to be one but I- uh, I’m sorry, I just thought-”

“No...” Shinsou said. His voice was softer than before. “It’s fine. I do want to be a hero, but I got put into Gen Ed.”

“Oh, okay.” Izuku mentally flinched. Why was he like this?

A moment passed in (what Izuku thought was) awkward silence. But after a moment, Shinsou asked, “You really think I can be a hero?”

Izuku nodded slowly. “Of course. I think with training, anyone can be one.”

Shinsou asked, “Do you want to be one too?”

Izuku rubbed the back of his neck. He laughed shyly. “Yeah, it’s been my dream since I was a little kid.”

“What’s your Quirk, then?”

Ah, the dreaded question. Izuku felt a heat begin to bloom in his cheeks. He looked down at his shoes.

“I actually don’t have one.” Izuku didn’t look up, he didn’t want to see Shinsou’s reaction.

To his surprise, Shinsou didn’t say anything. Izuku didn’t know if he should be thankful for that or not. They kept walking until they eventually parted ways.


The following few days passed by quickly. The USJ was attacked, the school was temporarily shut down, and security measures were almost doubled when Yuuei  reopened.

(Izuku wondered what it was like for Kacchan’s class to fight real villains.)

But after classes resumed, Izuku thought it’d be best to avoid Kacchan. Regardless of whether or not he actually forgot their encounter like Shinsou said he would, Izuku wasn’t keen to start getting bullied again. Unfortunately, the one place he couldn’t avoid Kacchan was the cafeteria.

That was fine, though. There were upsides to this situation. Lunch gave Izuku the opportunity to take notes on the hero classes. He sat alone at a table in the corner of the room, a safe distance away from Kacchan. Izuku bit into an apple, chewing absentmindedly while he wrote in his journal. Soon, the chatter of countless other students faded until it was just background sound.

He wasn’t sure how long he stayed in his own little world until a tray clattered onto the table in front of him. Izuku looked up, instinctively shutting his journal. Shinsou was standing in front of him.

“You mind if I sit here?”

Izuku glanced around. Most of the other tables in the cafeteria were packed with groups of students. He nodded, although he didn’t really feel like he had a choice. Shinsou already set his tray on the table, and now he was taking the seat cross from Izuku.

He leaned a bit to the side, trying to get a look at the hero course kids from around Shinsou. After a moment, Shinsou stopped eating to turn around. He spotted the boisterous group of students from classes 1-A and B. He turned back to Izuku and raised an eyebrow.

“Judging the hero kids?”

A nervous little sound escaped Izuku’s throat. He waved his hand through the air.

“Oh, no- it’s not like that, I uh, I just like studying them…”

And wow, wasn’t that eloquent and not at all creepy? But to his surprise, Shinsou exhaled sharply through his nose. The corner of his mouth quirked up a bit.

“You don’t need to act like I care. Or like I’m judging you.”

Shinsou started eating again, and Izuku glanced at his own tray of mostly-untouched food. He took a sip of water, his throat dry. Neither he nor Shinsou said anything for a few minutes. They ate in delicate silence until Izuku noticed a head of spiky blond hair getting up. He sank in his seat, pulling his journal up to hide his face. He pretended to read, glancing over the top of his notebook after a few seconds to make sure Kacchan didn’t see him. To his relief, Kacchan was just getting rid of his tray. When he sat back down, Izuku straightened up.

Shinsou’s eyes shifted from Kacchan to Izuku. He raised an eyebrow.

“So, what’s your deal with that guy?”

There were a million and one ways Izuku could have answered that question. Kacchan was his childhood friend. Kacchan was his childhood bully. Kacchan hated him for never giving up on his dreams and Kacchan told him to jump off a roof once.

Instead, he said, “We know each other.”

Shinsou nodded, although everything he did seemed to be weighed down by a lethargic, half-hearted sort of exhaustion.

“And based on the way he spoke to you before, I’m guessing he doesn’t like that a Quirkless kid got into Yuuei.”

Izuku blinked, shoulders stiffening. Shinsou smiled at him, baring his teeth in a way entirely different from Kacchan. With Shinsou, he seemed like a smug cat. He continued, “I think I know what that feels like. A lot of people don’t like someone with a villain’s Quirk being in Yuuei either.”

It took Izuku a second to realize Shinsou was talking about himself.

He said, “But your Quirk isn’t villainous. It’s full of potential! You’d be a great hero with it!”

Shinsou huffed, his smile widening. “You’re the first to think so.”

Izuku frowned, but in a way, he understood. Not all men (people in general, really) were created equal. The Quirkless and people with “unattractive” Quirks sat at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

He picked at his food until he realized that Shinsou was staring at his notebook. At the faded Hero Notes For The Future on the cover. Izuku quickly slid the book to the side, feeling his face heating up again.

Shinsou said, “You know, I was talking to a few teachers earlier. There’s a way to transfer from Gen Ed to the hero classes.”

Izuku’s eyes widened. He leaned forward in his seat.

“How?”

Shinsou smiled again, but it was different from before. There was a glimmer in his tired eyes, a hint of ambition.

“The Sports Festival. If we can prove that we’re strong enough to be in the Heroics course, the school will consider transferring us.”

Thoughts immediately flew by in Izuku’s mind, a thousand possibilities but the one thing that stuck out among everything else was one word.

We.

He asked, “Do you honestly think I can be a hero without a Quirk?”

Shinsou studied him, his smile gone but that shine in his eyes was still present. “I think your ego isn’t nearly as inflated as most of the hero kids. And you seem smarter than them too.”

Warmth bubbled in Izuku’s chest as his eyes grew damp. He smiled shyly. He didn’t get a direct answer, but this was the closest Izuku has ever gotten to someone believing in him.

“Thank you, Shinsou.”

The other boy shrugged, turning his attention back to his lunch. “It’ll be hard though, for both of us. Do you think you can compete with all the hero kids and their Quirks?”

Oh, if only Shinsou knew Izuku’s been asked variants of that question his entire life.

“Don’t worry about me. Someday, I’ll see you in the heroics course.”

Shinsou’s huffed, exhaling sharply through his nose again.

“Someday soon, I hope.”

Izuku smiled a little bit wider.


Weeks of training in the school’s gym (sometimes with Shinsou) lead to this day. The Sports Festival. Izuku understood the stakes- academic scores alone would not help him get into one of the hero classes. So he had only one chance a year to leave an impact not only on Yuuei, but on the world. And this was the first opportunity of three to prove himself and show that he deserved to be in the Heroics course.

Already, he made a big splash in the obstacle course. Izuku used part of a scraped robot to dig up a pile of smoke bombs. He detonated all of them at once, blasting himself past not only Kacchan but Todoroki Shouto, the youngest son of Endeavor.

He got himself first place. He got himself a staggering ten million price tag for the cavalry battle. Izuku thought that his winning streak would die right then and there.

Shinsou came up to him, his knowing smile on his face.

“We’re in this together. Besides, there’s no one else I’d rather team up with.”

Izuku could have cried. (He did, actually. A lot.)

A girl with pink hair came up to him next, rambling about her “babies” and proudly proclaiming that she’d be on their team. Izuku was thankful, especially for Hatsume’s gadgets, but they still needed a third person.

Shinsou told them to wait, and came back a few minutes later with a boy Izuku recognized from 1-A. His eyes were blank and empty.

Izuku inhaled sharply. “You can’t just control random people with your Quirk!”

Shinsou shrugged. “We need someone with high mobility. And I’ve seen him in the obstacle course. We could use him.”

Izuku felt his stomach churn at those words. He didn’t want to manipulate people to benefit himself. But without a full team, they’d be at a severe disadvantage. He glanced at the boy with the tail and bit his lip.

“Did you at least try to ask him first?”

“Of course I did. It’s how I got him to respond.”

Izuku stared at his closest (and admittedly only) friend. He swallowed dryly.

“I still don’t like this.”

“I know,” Shinsou rubbed the back of his neck. He glanced at the boy he put under his control, brows furrowed a little bit. “But this is our only chance. Besides, think of it this way. When we win, we’ll be taking him with us to the final challenge.”

Izuku thought about it, but had no more time to argue. The timer to make their teams went off and the cavalry battle was going to start regardless of Izuku’s moral dilemma. Throughout the battle, he effectively became a chew toy for the hero classes. Todoroki and Kacchan brawled over him as much as they did against him. But in the end, with Izuku’s quick thinking (and lifetime of running from bullies), Hatsume’s inventions, Shinsou shouting at the other teams, and their “friend”, they managed to survive. They didn’t end up winning, but they snagged enough points to stay in the competition.

Izuku watched as Shinsou released his control over the boy from 1-A. The guilt in his stomach grew heavier as he watched the boy look around wildly.

“Should we explain what happened to him?”

Shinsou put a hand on his shoulder. “He’ll be fine. He’s in the hero course, after all.”

Izuku chose to let it be. Whether or not it was the right choice, it was the one he made.

After the cavalry battle came the part of the Sports Festival Izuku dreaded, but prepared for, the most. It was time for the one-on-one tournament. With this challenge, Izuku lost all his former allies. And he was the only Quirkless student out of everyone still competing.

While waiting in a crowd for the first round of matches to be announced, Izuku felt a hand grip his arm. A voice whispered into his ear. “I hope we get pitted against each other. I wanna fucking slaughter you.”

Izuku’s entire body stiffened. He turned around, but the hand on his arm was already gone and Kacchan was stalking off to stand with his class.

“Ignore him.” Shinsou’s cold voice snapped Izuku out of his stupor. Izuku looked up and inhaled sharply, taken aback by the unabashed hatred in Shinsou’s eyes.

Midnight’s voice called all of them to attention. A massive screen would soon be showing the first round of battles. Izuku stood, sweaty and nervous, as he waited for his face and name to appear. He silently begged the universe to make him face anyone but Kacchan.

When he saw himself, Izuku’s breath caught in his throat. His eyes widened.

He was against the only person he realized he’d rather fight less than Kacchan.

He heard Shinsou whisper, “No fucking way…”

They were going to have to fight each other. Izuku looked up at Shinsou, Shinsou looked down at him. Izuku hoped for some sort of comforting gesture, even though he knew his friend wasn’t the coddling type.

Instead, Shinsou said, “Whatever happens… may the best man win.”

Izuku swallowed. He didn’t trust his voice not to quiver if he spoke. He nodded instead.

After that, they had to part ways. Shinsou was sent to one waiting room and Izuku to another.

He waited all of zero seconds before starting to pace around the room, muttering to himself. One part of him was touched by Shinsou’s words. His friend saw him as an equal, even without a Quirk. But the rest of Izuku was a messy, nervous wreck. He considered his options. Izuku had the advantage of knowing how Shinsou’s Quirk worked better than anyone else still competing. But Shinsou also knew how easy it was to get Izuku talking. And he had an approximate knowledge of Izuku’s fighting style.

In the months before Yuuei’s entrance exam, Izuku took lessons in martial arts. That, and his acceptable scores in the written test, were his saving grace and ticket to the General course. He was physically stronger than Shinsou, but he didn’t have a Quirk. It was his biggest disadvantage, and Izuku was beginning to feel it.

Assuming he won this match, what would happen then?

He’d be fighting kids in the hero classes. They’d be much stronger than him and have powers he couldn’t possibly compete against. Izuku paced faster, biting his nails now. His other hand ran through his hair as he tried to think of a solution. His heart started beating fast as his breathing grew shallow.

When the clock in the waiting room showed that there was only a few minutes left, Izuku knew what he had to do.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He did a final round of stretches, chugged half a bottle of water, and left the room. He walked back out onto the field, greeting the roaring voices of the audience head on. A massive concrete stage was set in the middle of the arena. It beckoned to him as much as it daunted him.

Izuku walked up the steps, seeing Shinsou emerge from the opposite set of stairs. Present Mic’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers.

“What’s this? A Quirkless student still in the competition? Incredible! Everyone give it up for Midoriya Izuku from General Education!”

Izuku winced at his introduction, wishing that he could get this over with faster.

“Also from the General course is Shinsou Hitoshi! Quirk: Brainwashing! He can control anyone who responds to him! I can’t believe that not one, but two students from Gen Ed have made it this far!”

Izuku couldn’t see Shinsou’s reaction, but wondered if he felt proud of his introduction. His heart started hammering in his chest when Midnight raised her arm in the air.

She brought her hand down, shouting out, “Begin!”

Neither Izuku or Shinsou moved. But Shinsou was the first to speak. He called from across the arena, “I’m sorry I have to fight you.”

Izuku opened his mouth to respond before remembering to cut himself off. Instead, he broke into a sprint. Izuku rammed his shoulder into Shinsou’s chest, knocking him backward. Shinsou stayed on his feet, using maneuvers that Izuku recognized as tactics he taught his friend when they sparred.

It might be a little harder than he thought to make a final impact on the crowd. (And Yuuei.)

Izuku shifted his weight to his front foot, swinging his back leg up into a roundhouse kick. Shinsou blocked at the last moment, but he grunted under the impact. They were so close, Izuku could see the sweat on Shinsou’s brow.

Shinsou managed a remorseful grin. “I wish I trained with you more now.”

Izuku kept his mouth shut, biting his lower lip to keep silent. His brows furrowed in concentration as he kept on the offensive, driving Shinsou closer and closer to the out-of-bounds line.

“That was a good punch!”

“Why so quiet?”

“Where’d you learn that move?”

“I’m sorry,” Shinsou said as he landed a punch to Izuku stomach. He wheezed, but the angle gave him an opening to uppercut Shinsou across his jaw. Izuku felt Shinsou’s teeth clack together, internally apologizing to his friend. His eyes darted behind them. They were only a few yards away from the chalk line. It was almost over.

Shinsou stumbled back, wiping spit and blood from his lip. He was heaving from exertion, just like Izuku. Shinsou’s eyes were wide open. Alert. Afraid.

“No sympathy for your friend, huh?”

Friend.

All this time, after all these weeks of knowing each other, this was the first time Shinsou acknowledged their relationship. Izuku swallowed.

“I’m sorry-”

His words died in his throat. Izuku’s body seized, then went slack. He could still see, could still hear, but couldn’t move. Shinsou stared at him.

“Walk out of bounds.”

Izuku did as he was told. His body moved step by step, shuffling past Shinsou and finally reaching the white chalk line. As much as it hurt the part of him still conscious of his actions, he stepped past it.

Midnight declared Shinsou the winner and the match ended. Izuku’s shoulders stiffened as he was released from Shinsou’s control. He took in a gulp of air, blinking to keep the tears from forming.

“Midoriya-”

Izuku didn’t turn around. He kept walking, reaching the stairs and leaving despite his waiting room being on the other side of the arena. He heard Shinsou start walking behind him and picked up the pace. The cameras were still filming them, and Izuku couldn’t bear to look at himself, or have Shinsou see him. Once he reached the tunnel Shinsou came from, he broke into a sprint, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand.

Izuku found a supply closet and hid inside it. He heard Shinsou run by, still looking for him. Once he was gone, Izuku leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. He brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them.

Finally, the first tear fell. Then another, and another. It hurt. It hurt so much to give up his first chance to impress Yuuei. He tugged the collar of his shirt up to wipe his eyes. His vision was reduced to a watery blur and Izuku squeezed his eyes shut. He rested his head against his knees. Izuku took deep, shuttering breathes as he sobbed.

Izuku wasn’t sure how long he stayed in the closet balling his eyes out. But he eventually re-emerged to find the nearest bathroom. He splashed cold water onto his face and looked up. His red-eyed, sweaty reflection stared back at him. Izuku diverted his gaze and left.

Izuku tried to look at the bright side. At the very least, he could help Shinsou further his own goals. And really, wasn’t that what a hero did? Didn’t they help people?

He found the booth holding his class and noticed that Shinsou wasn’t there. Izuku tried to slip into a seat without being noticed.

“Hey, Midoriya!”

He winced. Izuku looked up, taken aback by all the faces now staring at him. Someone clapped him on the back.

“Congrats on making it to the tournament!”

“You were awesome out there!”

“I had no idea you could do all those cool moves!”

“You didn’t even need a Quirk to fight!”

“You gave Shinsou a serious run for his money!”

His classmates high-fived him, congratulated him, patted him on the back. Izuku, never having felt even a shred of support like this from a class in his life, couldn’t help but smile a little. He hid his lower face in his shirt collar, blushing.

(Did the hero kids get to feel like this all the time?)

Soon, the class’s attention was diverted by the next match. Izuku noticed that he missed a good chunk of the other first-round matches. But something felt off. He leaned over and asked his nearest classmate, “Have you seen Shinsou?”

They frowned. “No, sorry. He didn’t come back after your guy’s match.”

Dread settled in Izuku’s stomach. He curled his hands in the hem of his shirt. His mood worsened when he saw that Kacchan was up now. At the other end of the arena was another girl from the hero course. The match flew by in a blaze of smoke and explosions. Early on, Izuku caught on to the girl’s strategy. She was making the debris from Kacchan’s explosions float into the air.

But Izuku didn’t have it in him to take notes or even to mutter his theories. He watched, tense as anyone else in the audience, as Kacchan blew away her entire meteor shower with a single explosion. Izuku flinched away from the sight, remembering the intensity of Kacchan’s Quirk from years of first hand experience. Then it was over. Kacchan won, like he always did.

An emotion Izuku couldn’t quite place started to fill up his chest. It was cold, but burning hot at the same time. It felt a little like fear, but got his heart hammering and stomach curling at once. The sensation intensified as he viewed the next match, a tie-breaking arm wrestling competition between two students, Kirishima and Tetsutetsu. Watching Tetsutetsu’s steel skin crack on the big screen sent a shock through Izuku. The coiling dread in his gut intensified. His fists gripped his shirt tighter, his knuckles turning white.

Then, it was the second round of matches, and Shinsou was kicking it off by fighting Todoroki from 1-A. Izuku watched his friend walk back out onto the arena. The ache in his chest didn’t go away, but it didn’t worsen either.

Seeing Shinsou ready for his next match didn’t hurt him as much as Izuku feared. He held no ill will against Shinsou. He even hoped his friend would win. But as soon as the match started, a wall of ice barrelled toward Shinsou. He dove to the side just in time. He shouted something Izuku couldn’t hear, but Todoroki didn’t respond to whatever it was. He sent another jagged sheet of ice, trapping Shinsou in between the two walls.

The match ended quickly after that.

Shinsou walked away from his fight, defeated. Almost all of Izuku’s class ran to crowd the front of their booth, shouting praise for Shinsou.

Izuku stayed in his seat, overhearing someone from the audience speaking.

“Imagine having that kind of Quirk, though.”

“I know, capturing villains would be so easy!”

He looked up, seeing two pro heroes discussing the match.

“It’s just a shame he lost. I’m sure he’d be an excellent stealth hero, though. Yuuei clearly has no idea what they’re doing with him.”

Izuku’s eyes widened. They were talking about Shinsou.

That boiling, curling, hot and cold and painful feeling in his chest vanished for a moment and Izuku felt his entire body fill with a happy sort of warmth. Even if throwing his match meant losing for him, seeing Shinsou being able to leave a lasting impact made up for it. He turned back to the arena, getting up to join his classmates.

“Shinsou! You did awesome!”

He waved to get his friend’s attention. When their eyes met, Izuku smiled. To his surprise, Shinsou paused. He stared at Izuku for a moment before breaking eye contact and continuing on his way.

It took a little while for Shinsou to make his way from the ground level to their class’s booth. When he did, he brushed away his congratulations to pull Izuku into the hallway.

“I couldn’t find you after our match. Where did you go?”

Izuku blinked, not knowing what to say. Thoughts flew by in his head. Was Shinsou worried he damaged their friendship by winning? Did Izuku distract him from giving his all in his match against Todoroki? (Was Izuku actually an awful friend?)

He wished, not for the first time, that he could disappear.

“Midoriya.” Shinsou asked again. “What happened to you?”

Izuku tried to smile apologetically. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m sorry. I just… needed some time to myself.”

“So, are you upset I beat you?”

Izuku waved his hands through the air, forcing himself to smile wider. “Oh no, of course not! I’m sorry if I made you worry, though. I really am.”

Shinsou didn’t say anything for a moment. He studied Izuku, before sighing. “You have nothing to apologize for. Now come on, let’s go watch the rest of those assholes beat each other up.”

He lead Izuku back into their booth in time for the next match. The ache-y, burning empty-yet-overwhelming fear(?) in Izuku’s chest slowly came trickling back in.

Kirishima Eijirou, Iida Tenya, Todoroki Shouto, Tokoyami Fumikage. Izuku memorized their names and faces and took mental notes on their Quirks. Kacchan beat Kirishima. Todoroki beat Iida. Then Kacchan beat Tokoyami.

Izuku bore witness to the loud, explosive, dynamic, icy-hot all out brawl between Kacchan and Todoroki.

He studied Todoroki’s form, realizing that he used only ice, despite Present Mic describing the half of him that could produce fire. Why did he not use that side?

But when the match ended with Kacchan demanding a proper win from Todoroki, Izuku realized what the feeling inside him was.

It was a brutal mix of apprehension and a rude awakening.

Watching the students from the Heroics classes, not just Kacchan, showed Izuku exactly how far a Quirk could take a potential hero. And not just any Quirk, even Shinsou lost startlingly fast against Todoroki’s brute force.

Izuku’s hands curled back into fists, nails digging hard enough into his palms that he risked drawing blood. Even if he did beat Shinsou in their match, he would have stood even less of a chance against Todoroki, or anyone else for that matter. Seeing 1-A showed Izuku how far ahead the students with Quirks were. And for the first time in his life, the dream Izuku was so sure he could eventually achieve felt like it was slipping away.

Chapter Text

Shoto was used to long days. He was the number five hero, and that warranted very little free time. When he did happen to have a quiet night to himself, Shoto rarely spent it like this: laying on his couch binge-watching online documentaries. But today was different. He came back from patrol early and decided he’d rather relax than train. And the first video he saw on Youtube was something called The History of Endeavor Part 1: A Hero Critique.

Shoto would never willing observe anything about his father, certainly not a twenty minute video that was apparently part of a series, but the thumbnail caught his eye. He saw a young man with curly green hair scrunching his nose at a famous image of Shoto’s father. The one taken years ago, where he was silhouetted by his own flames. So Shoto clicked the on the video.

And here he was, on part two of three, enjoying every moment of watching this Youtuber roast his father. While this man, Midoriya Deku (that had to be a pseudonym, right?) had the tendency to dissolve into rants and rambles, he was fucking smart. It was like no obscure fact from the past ten years could hide from him. Deku seemed to be able to pull out every minute media blunder and every callous response Shoto’s father had made. He even found old statements from early on in Gale Force’s and Shoto’s own career.

It was cathartic, to say the least. But Shoto couldn’t deny that part of it was due to the Youtuber himself. None of this critique was anything new to Shoto, but Deku was somehow alluring. His wide eyes and lively demeanor made him seem younger than he probably was, but he spoke so passionately it left no doubt in Shoto’s mind that he meant everything he said. He was honest. Passionate. Com passionate.

Shoto finished the third and final part of the series and went to Deku’s channel. He started scrolling through his older videos, watching anything that stuck out to him- Lemillion and All Might were two. But Shoto also noticed that many of Deku’s more recent videoes were part of a ‘Me Time’ series. Shoto watched several, starting with Deku trying to make socks for his Shih Tzu. He laughed empathetically as the little dog tore apart her new chew toys, reminded of Fuyumi’s jewelry-obsessed cat.

He found another video of Deku trying to make an Ingenium cosplay using only household items. While watching, Shoto felt a small stab of guilt in his chest. While he was vaguely aware of his former classmate’s lives from their interviews and televised fights, Shoto fell out of touch with many of them over time. The only one who still made the effort to communicate with him was Momo, but from what Shoto could tell, she still kept up with many of their former classmates. Besides Jirou, her girlfriend, Momo still maintained regular contact with Kaminari and Ashido.

But here Shoto was. Living in a high-rise Tokyo apartment. Essentially in the lap of luxury and fame. Focused solely on his career. Alone.

(Like his father.)

Shoto kept scrolling through Deku’s channel. He stopped when something caught his eye. His own face stared back at him.

An Analysis on Shoto

Shoto didn’t often indulge in anything about himself, but he was curious. When he clicked on the video, he saw Deku himself sitting in front of a wall covered in soundproofing foam.

Deku smiled. “Hey, everyone! I just wanted to say that I was blown away by how much attention my videos on Endeavor got. I want to thank each and every one of you for watching that series! Because of you guys, I can pay my bills and keep doing what I love.”

He continued, “I noticed that a lot of you actually wanted me to do something on Shoto as a follow up...” Deku rubbed the back of his neck, “And… well, you guys asked and I did it. So please enjoy the video!”

Then it cut to the actual video, with Deku discuessing Shoto as a hero. For the most part, it was praise. Some of it was for Shoto’s actual history as a hero, but there was a surprisingly long portion on his philanthropic work. As one of the top heroes in the country, Shoto admittedly had a lot of money. He didn’t want for many things, so why not donate some?

Toward the end of the video, Deku said, “There’s only one thing I don’t understand. Shoto’s Quirk is called Half-Cold Half-Hot.”

Ah, there it was. Ever since Shoto was a young teenager, he’s refused to use his father’s Quirk as much as possible. He’s gotten many comments and questions regarding why, and he supposed it was bound to come up in a video about him.

Deku went on, frowning. “We’ve seen Shoto use his fire in a very few number of emergency situations, but it seems like he’d much rather use his ice. What I think, and I absolutely can’t speak for him or say I truly understand him, is that he’s still trying to resist his father.”

Hit the nail on the head, didn’t he? Shoto was about to stop watching when Deku took a breath and said, “I feel like Shoto has nothing to prove to anyone else. He’s already an amazing hero. His fire belongs to himself, not to Endeavor.”

Shoto paused the video, hands lingering on his laptop. He stared at the still image of Midoriya Deku the moment after he finished his sentence.

Shoto’s been told that his fire was his own before. Sometimes by teachers and sometimes by other heroes. (And certainly his family.) But it was always with the underlying motive of getting Shoto to cave into their idea of what he should be. But look at him now; he’s become one of the top ten heroes by using only his ice.

But Midoriya Deku was someone with absolutely nothing to gain by saying this. He was someone who Shoto would likely never even meet in real life. But there he was, with all the empathy and compassion he’s displayed in every other video, almost speaking directly to Shoto.

He clenched his left fist, realizing his body temperature was rising. He finished watching Deku’s video, almost mesmerized by the Youtuber. At the end, he clicked on the little, red subscribe button.


 

The day after Izuku and Red Riot spoke, he texted Hitoshi. Izuku made sure it was later in the afternoon, so he wouldn’t risk disturbing his friend if he ended up sleeping in after a late night patrol.

Izuku: I talked to Red Riot last night

A few minutes later, Izuku got a call from Hitoshi. His friend didn’t waste time with pleasantries.

“How’d it go?”

Izuku could almost see Hitoshi now, pacing around his apartment much to the annoyance of his cats. Izuku himself was sitting at his desk with Honeydew in his lap.

“It was fun, actually. He’s a big fan of Crimson Riot.”

He could hear Hitoshi snort at the other end. “But how was he? Riot can be way too energetic sometimes.”

Izuku recalled the initial, overwhelming wave of oh no he’s an extrovert when they first began their chat. (It was closely followed by a wave of oh no he’s hot.)

Speaking of which, Izuku could feel himself blushing when he said, “Uh… he was really excited to talk about Crimson Riot. And he flexed his muscles for me.”

There was a moment of silence.

“That idiot.”

Izuku sucked in a breath, “Oh, no, no! I thought he was funny!”

Honeydew raised her head at Izuku’s outburst. She whined softly and he started petting her, soothing himself with her fluff.

“It’s just that… I don’t know. I think I actually really enjoyed talking to him. He’s smart, in his own way.”

He heard Hitoshi hum. “What else did he say?”

“He mentioned that he wished he could have gone to my book signing. I was surprised, though. He had my book on his desk and showed it to me.”

Hitoshi laughed, sounding more relieved now. “Aw, looks like you have a fanboy.”

“Don’t say it like that!”

“It’s true though. I get the impression that he adores you.”

A soft sound escaped Izuku’s throat. Hearing the words he and adores and you in succession sent a shiver down his back. Not an unpleasant one, either.

“Really?” Izuku’s voice came out as a sort of breathless, yet high-pitched whisper.

A fragile, little bubble of hope was starting to form in his chest. Deeper down, he knew he absolutely shouldn’t hope for anything. Izuku’s had terrible luck when it comes to dating. He couldn’t do hook-ups or one night stands, he was too nervous around strangers for that. He didn’t have to guts to pursue any crush in high school. He drove away his very first boyfriend when he was in college because of mental illness, and another guy only tried dating him because Izuku was becoming “famous”. Who’s to say anything with Red Riot would go smoothly, let alone even happen?

But then, Hitoshi said, “Yeah. He wanted to meet you so badly. He basically begged me to talk to you for him.”

Izuku let that information sink in. The delicate bubble in his chest was becoming a little sturdier. But Izuku still felt the need not to get ahead of himself. The very best he should hope for was to become acquaintances. Red Riot was leagues beyond him.

Izuku asked, “Is it bad that I kind of want to talk to him again?”

Hitoshi was silent for a moment.  

“I think you should try talking to him only if you’re really interested. But be careful. Don’t forget who his best friend is.”

And there went the bubble. Recalling Bakugou Katsuki nearly popped that warm, little ball of hope in Izuku’s chest. He bit his lip.

“I think I still want to try.”

Hitoshi sighed. “Alright, it’s your choice. Let me know if you need anything.”

Izuku tried to smile, even though he was alone. “Thank you, Toshi.”


The day after talking to Midoriya Deku, Eijirou scrolled through his messages with Shinsou. He stopped at the one he was looking for.

Shinsou: I expect you to delete Deku’s contact info once you don’t need it. And if you scare or hurt him in any way, you aren’t getting a second chance.

Eijirou got what he hoped for. He didn’t need Deku’s phone number anymore, and he did promise he’d delete it. But meeting Deku felt like it changed things. He was kind and fun and genuinely interested in everything Eijirou had to say.

Not to mention overwhelmingly cute.

But a deal was a deal.

Eijirou scrolled through the texts he sent Deku, just reading through them a final time. A part of him wondered why Shinsou was so protective of Deku. At some points in their conversations, the guy seemed downright hostile. It’d make sense if they were dating, even if it could be considered possessive, but nothing in Shinsou’s words even implied it.

Eijirou wondered what about him made him such an immense threat to Deku. He knew he could be excitable at times, with Katsuki sometimes comparing him to a puppy dog. But it wasn’t like he had any plans of being rude! He really did want to meet Deku.

But one part of Shinsou’s text stuck out to him more than the rest.

And if you scare or hurt him…

How could Eijirou hurt Deku from the other side of a screen? And even the implication that Eijirou wanted to scare Deku seemed outrageous. Eijirou knew he was a big guy, and he had quite the reputation as a pretty tough hero, but he only wanted to meet his favorite Youtuber. Unless Deku was already afraid of him.

Eijirou could feel years of anxieties he thought he did away with creeping up on him again. He shook his head and set down his phone. Eijirou went to his bedroom and threw on some clean workout clothes. Despite it being night outside, he needed some fresh air. Katsuki would be returning home soon from a solo patrol and Eijirou left a note for him.

He slipped out his front door and sighed softly. Cardio usually wasn’t easy to start for him. Eijirou was built like a tank, all thick muscle and a sturdy body. But tonight, he found himself easily starting into a rhythm. Just one foot in front of another. It was fine, he had his thoughts to distract him.

Just like Gang Orca, Eijirou found himself on the list of heroes who looked like villains. (Who even maintained that list anyways?) It was his Unbreakable form that did him in. Eijirou has been told before that he looked, well, unsightly while Unbreakable. Eijirou wondered if Shinsou thought he’d intimidate Deku. He wasn’t as dumb as Katsuki would like to say he was. Living with the explosion hero even taught Eijirou to find the nuances in someone else’s emotions. Deku was nervous when they met, and he could only assume it was Eijirou making him that way.

Again, Eijirou wanted to know why. Shinsou had repeatedly gone above and beyond the protectiveness of a friend for Deku. And Deku didn’t talk about Shinsou as if he were a significant other.

Eijirou stopped at a crosswalk, catching his breath as cars zipped by. In a hoodie covering his trademark red hair, the other waiting pedestrians didn’t recognize him.

Maybe Deku’s had bad experiences with other heroes. He was a famous Youtuber, maybe he’s met one before? Eijirou could list a few heroes (Endeavor and Grape Juice) that would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Even Katuski wasn’t exactly a perfect hero.

The light for pedestrians changed, indicating they could cross. Eijirou jetted ahead of the others at the crosswalk, continuing on his run. He exhaled sharply, starting to appreciate the cold night air. This issue probably wasn’t his to mull over. Shinsou knew Deku much better than Eijirou did. If he thought severing contact was for the best, then Eijirou would trust his judgement.


A few days after their little chat, Izuku stared at his phone screen.

Izuku: Hi Kirishima! I had fun talking the other night

Izuku stared at the message on his screen, waiting to be sent.

He still wondered if he should even be doing this. To Red Riot, was Izuku was sort of ‘one and done’ type of thing? He was probably let down by how awkward Izuku was and decided he wasn’t worth keeping in contact with.

But, another part of him argued, why should he quit without even trying? He was just sending one text, one little message. If Red Riot was interested, he’d respond. If he wasn’t, Izuku would know. But the crushing fear of being rejected, even as friends, was struggling to stomp out the fragile hope Izuku was clinging to.

He took a deep breath. He hit send. Izuku exhaled. He didn’t want to be afraid anymore. The fear of other people, of meeting them and having them judge him, was killing him. Izuku lost contact of all his acquaintances from high school because he felt like a burden. Hitoshi was the only person keeping him from becoming a social pariah. He’s never even been in a relationship for longer than half a year.

But Izuku wanted this. To at least try reaching out to someone else.

That being said, he almost dropped his phone when he got a text back. Honeydew raised her head from where she was laying on the floor to watch him. Izuku started biting his lip as he looked at the screen.

Red Riot: That’s awesome to hear! Thanks again!

Izuku’s eyes widened. He started pacing around his apartment, from the kitchen to his bedroom and back again. Honeydew picked herself up and started following him.

Izuku: I wouldn’t mind doing it again, if you’d like. Absolutely no pressure though!

Was he really going to send that?

Was he really going to try to get himself into this?

The answer surprised him. Izuku found himself sending the next text. The three dreaded bubbles indicating that Red Riot was continuously changing his response  appeared and disappeared several times. And Izuku’s mind was ready to jump off a pessimistic cliff. Here it comes- the rejection. He shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up anyways. And who could he complain to about this? What part of him was incharge of his stupid feelings?

A new text from Red Riot popped up. Izuku stood still, Honey stopping at his heels.

Red Riot: Really?

Was… was that it? Multiple minutes worth of waiting for just that?

Izuku couldn’t resist imagining Red Riot’s voice in his head, hesitant if the wait was any indication.

Izuku: Not that I expect you to! Obviously! I’m sure you’re super busy, I’m sorry for bothering you.

Red Riot: No, it’s not that! I want to

Red Riot: Thanks for reaching out to me again :)

Something warm started flourishing in Izuku’s chest. Honeydew yipped softly, as if in encouragement.


Eijirou exhaled after sending his last message. Maybe he was misinterpreting things before. The universe probably saw him and his stupid, gay ass before deciding to throw him a bone. He had the chance to keep talking to Deku and he wasn’t going to let himself waste it.



Chapter Text

Mina: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

Denki: Happy birthday to our favorite Hard Boy!

Hanta: Happy b-day Ei~!!

Eijirou smiled at his phone, rubbing his eyes with his other hand. Katsuki forced him to take they day off and Eijirou was happy to oblige. The only things keeping him from sleeping past noon were his friends blowing up his phone with their annual birthday texts.

Denki: What’s the b-day boy got planned for his special day huh?

Mina: Yeah i wish we could have met up for dinner this year

Eijirou: Aww thanks guys! I was just going to chill today

Eijirou: Although

Eijirou: I guess u could say I kind of have a date tonight

Eijirou had to wait all of two seconds before Mina absolutely lost her mind.

Mina: ALSDJFKALCIJDFKNFDDDDFFF OMG

Mina: EEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

Mina: WHO IS THIS MYSTERY BOY??/? DO WE KNOW HIM? HOW HAVE THEY SEDUCED U AND WHEN CAN I MEET HIM??????

Hanta: Hey Denki ur in the closest city to Mina right? U might want to check in on her I think she’s having an aneurysm

Hanta: Also, congrats Ei who’s the lucky guy? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

If only Eijirou could actually tell them. In fact, he’d been dying to tell nearly everyone he knew that he’d met Midoriya Deku not only once, but several times now. However, Deku seemed to enjoy his privacy, so Eijirou hadn’t told anyone about them yet. And yeah, maybe calling one of their chats a date was stretching it a lot, but Eijirou couldn’t help it. All his friends were big Deku fans, and it didn’t feel right keeping them completely in the dark.

Eijirou: It’s not nearly as exciting as Mina wants it to be

Eijirou: I’ve just met this guy recently and we’re sort of in a platonic long-distance thing right now? I mean, he lives in Musutafu so we’re kinda close but not enough to see each other in person  

Eijirou: I want to ask him out for real tho

He doubted Deku and Shinsou were a thing now, after the Youtuber gave no indication he was in a relationship at all.

Denki: Hey, look at u getting back into the game! So, what’s this guy like?

Mina: Yes pls give more info

Mina: Also fyi Hanta I was not having an aneurysm. It was a stroke.

Eijirou thought of all the ways he could describe Midoriya Izuku without giving away his identity. His hair looked so soft, and those dark green locks bounced when he laughed. His freckles were like little constellations and he blushed fiercely at nearly anything even mildly provocative. He was cute and kind and he made Eijirou feel warm and melty inside when he smiled.

So, in sum, he had it really bad for Deku. And the longer they were separated by a screen, the more Eijirou wanted to reach out and touch him. Not in a weird way, but to do things like brush aside his bangs or to adjust his hoodie drawstring. Even the idea of just being in the same room together made Eijirou’s heart do little somersaults.

Eijirou: He’s super manly and funny. He’s fucking adorable and so much smarter than me too. But he’s really shy tho so I feel like I gotta make the first move

Eijirou: And I’m worried I make him nervous, you know? Like, he’s a civilian and I’m a hero? It sounds weird but I don’t want to make him uncomfortable

Hanta: Aww dude sounds like you found someone ur really into

Mina: I say go for it!! Tell him how u feel, take him to dinner, confess your love, and don’t forget to make me the best woman at your wedding

Denki: Impatient much, Mina?

Mina: I’m just so excited! Our Hard Boy deserves only the best!

Eijirou smiled at his phone screen. They all knew that being heroes didn’t leave them with a lot of time for dating. It was cause to celebrate if one of their own could manage a steady relationship.

Eijirou: Thanks Mina

Eijirou: Been thinking of asking him out tonight

Denki: Ooo!

Denki: U should do it! Anyone would be lucky to have you!

Eijirou smiled a little wider. He could feel a faint blush start to bloom across his cheeks.

Eijirou: Thanks guys :)


 

Izuku pushed open the front door of his mother’s home. He grunted as he adjusted the grocery bags in his arms. His mom, carrying only one bag, shut the door behind them.

“Can you just set those down in the kitchen, dear?”

Izuku nodded, already on his way. He hefted the bulky bags onto the kitchen counter, taking his time putting away his mom’s groceries. As the two of them moved about in the kitchen, Izuku thought about how nice it was to visit his mom. He might’ve lived fairly close to her, but Izuku was almost ashamed to admit he didn’t visit as often as he used to. Especially when he was in college, he came home as often as he could. His mom was an angel, taking care of him whenever he asked for her help.

“Izuku? What do you feel like having for lunch?”

He wiped the tiny beads of sweat from his forehead and shrugged.

“Anything you want is fine.”

His mom hummed, as if in thought, but her grin gave her away. Her dark green hair had bits of gray in it, but her eyes betrayed no sense of age or fatigue.

“How about Katsudon? Your favorite?”

Just hearing those words sent his stomach rumbling. Izuku smiled and nodded.

Not too long later and the kitchen was bathed in the scent of frying pork and cooking eggs. When the meat and rice were ready, the two of them heaped their bowls with the fruit (or pork?) of their labor. Izuku sat in his usual seat at the kitchen table, across from his mom. When he took his first bite, Izuku couldn’t help but let out a little moan. Getting Katsudon from a shop was easier than making it at home, but he missed his mom’s cooking.

“So, tell me, how have you been doing lately? How’s Honeydew?”

The image of Red Riot in a t-shirt and headband came into mind. Izuku pushed that thought to the side as he looked up at his mom.

“Honey’s been good for me. She hasn’t interrupted too many of my videos.”

His mom laughed. “Oh, I saw that one video you made! The one with the socks you tried making for her.”

His mom shook her head. “I really ought to give you a refresher course on how to sew. Your stitches were looking a little shabby.”

Izuku laughed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah, I know. I learned the hard way that it isn’t my strong suit.”

He took a deep breath, steadying his nerves before continuing, “Actually, I do have some other news.”

Izuku saw his mother’s smile fade slightly. He added, “Good news, though!”

“Oh?”

Izuku nodded, grinning sheepishly. “I, uh, I met someone recently.”

She reacted the way Izuku expected her to. His mom gasped, clutching her chopsticks tightly in her hand. He thought she’d be worried, but she suddenly started smiling.

“Izuku! Oh, I’m so happy to hear that! What’s his name? What’s he like?”

Izuku wished he could be as excited as his mom was.

“We aren’t dating yet, but I want to ask him out soon.”

He wasn’t going to tell his mom that his potential love interest was a pro hero, however. Despite her accepting his Youtube channel as his main job, Izuku already caused her enough stress when he tried (and failed) to become a hero himself.

“He’s funny, though. And nice, and he loves it when I talk about heroes.”

Izuku was blushing harder now, he could feel it. “And he’s um… very buff.”

His mom laughed. She rested her head on one hand, smiling softly. “Oh, Izuku. Sounds like you’ve found your perfect match.”

He wouldn’t say that yet. Not until the Skype call Red Riot requested for tonight. They’ve already chatted a few times since their initial meeting, and Izuku felt like it was time for him to stop chickening out. He was surprised though, when his mom took his hand from across the table. She rubbed her thumb in little circles across the back of his hand. “Izuku, I want you to know that I’m so proud of you. You deserve someone who realizes how wonderful you are.”

A wet heat bloomed in Izuku’s eyes and he tried to blink away the sudden onslaught of tears. He smiled. “Thanks, mom.”

The hand holding his own squeezed gently. “But be careful, okay? Don’t let him push you around. And don’t let him make you do things you aren’t comfortable with. Not like that last boy. And-”

“Mom, Izuku said. He squeezed her hand back and gave her a more confident smile, “I think I’ll be fine.”

At least, he hoped he’d be.


Over the past week or so, the wait before their calls never got any less anxiety-inducing. Or, maybe, Izuku was just extra nervous tonight. It was Red Riot’s birthday, and he still had a hard time believing that the pro hero wanted to spend any portion of his day talking to Izuku. (He even got permission to refer to Red Riot as Kirishima, but he still couldn’t even do that yet.)

But, whatever happened tonight, Izuku was going to ask Red Riot out. Or, at the very least, to meet in person. Too bad Izuku realized he didn’t have a back-up plan for if he said no.

It was too late now, because Red Riot was calling him. Izuku took a deep breath to soothe his nerves. A face popped up on his screen, one with bright red hair and a dazzling, toothy grin.

He tried smiling back. “Happy birthday!”

Red Riot blinked, as if surprised. He said, “Aww, thanks!”

“Did you do anything fun today?”

Izuku saw Red Riot on the news earlier for stopping a minor robbery. He wasn’t sure if heroes counted that as doing something fun.

As it was, Red Riot shrugged. “Nothing special, really. But it’s nice having the day off every once in a while.”

Izuku hummed, intrigued. “I’m surprised. I didn’t think you were the type to do nothing all day.”

He hoped he was coming off as playful. Izuku’s confirmation came as Red Riot laughed and pointed a finger at Izuku.

“Hey! Just because I’m a hero doesn’t mean I don’t like relaxing now and then. Although,” Red Riot rubbed the back of his neck, “There’s actually something I want to ask you.”

A jolt went down Izuku’s spine.

He hates you he’s always hated you he’s going to leave you-

Izuku smacked those thoughts out of his head.

“...What is it?”

Red Riot leaned in a bit closer to the camera. He swallowed, and Izuku could see Adam’s apple bobbing. “I was wondering if I could take you out to dinner sometime?”

What.

Izuku blinked. His mouth opened and closed. Several sentences were trying to force themselves out at once. It felt like he couldn’t breathe, but not in a bad way?

Izuku thought, Really?

That sounds amazing.

Are you sure?

Was this a joke? Please, Izuku pleaded to the universe, don’t let this be some kind of cruel joke.

Red Riot couldn’t possibly have found out Izuku liked him. And he didn’t seem like the kind to mock him for his feelings, either. Unless Izuku’s early fears were real and Red Riot only wanted to get close to him to hurt him because why would he be interested in Izuku after all he was a nobody and-

Why did Red Riot look like he was panicking too?

“It doesn’t have to be dinner, though! I’d be happy to just see you again in person. I hope that doesn’t sound weird.”

Red Riot laughed, but it was strained and awkward.

Was he nervous? How could he be nervous? About asking Izuku of all people out on a date?

“No,” Izuku said quickly, “Um, sorry. I was just surprised. But- but yes! I do want to, though. It sounds like fun.”

It finally hit Izuku that this was actually happening. Red Riot really wanted to see him again. In person. For dinner.

For a date?

Izuku shoved down the butterflies fluttering in his stomach.

“What did you have in mind?”

Red Riot seemed relieved. He gave Izuku another one of his bright white smiles.

“There are tons of really nice restaurants around where I live. I could get a reservation, no problem.”

Oh, an uber-fancy restaurant for the first date? Did Izuku even have anything nice enough to wear to something like that? He might be a popular Youtuber, but Izuku probably didn’t have the cash for new, formal clothes plus the bill.

“Or, if you’d rather not travel to Tokyo, I don’t mind going to Musutafu! And I’m not picky either, so whatever restaurant you like I’d be happy to go to.”

Izuku bit his lip. He hated the idea of making Red Riot go out of his way for him, but at least Izuku could stress a lot less than otherwise.

“You really wouldn’t mind coming to Musutafu?”

“Nope! Not at all, if that’s what you want!”

Okay, one butterfly was allowed to flutter up from Izuku’s stomach to his heart. But only one. There was still plenty of time for Izuku to make a fool of himself, despite his previous attempts at maintaining confidence.

“When would you be able to come?”

Izuku could at least make their plans to accommodate Red Riot’s schedule. The hero hummed in thought, pouting almost comically.

“How about this Saturday? Is that okay?”

That was four days from now, but Izuku learned his lesson about trying to put off plans. It only made him more anxious.

“That’s fine, I’ll see you then!”

On the down side, Izuku had only four days to turn himself in a fully-functioning, social human being.

But Red Riot practically glowed with excitement. His eyes gleamed like rubies, so much brighter than Izuku had ever seen them. Maybe this was the universe deciding to go easy on Izuku for once.


 

Katsuki noticed something was up when Eijirou emerged from his home office bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Hey, Redhead. Think fast!”

Katsuki tossed a box at his best friend. As expected, Ei caught it, although he grunted in surprise. He looked from the box to Katsuki.

“Happy birthday.”

Eijirou smiled. “Aww, thanks. When’d you get home, dude?”

“A little while ago. Noticed you were busy with your little internet friend.”

Katsuki didn’t consider himself a nosy person, but he did notice the extra measures Ei went through to avoid talking about his new friend. Not even a name slipped by. But every time they met online, Eijirou became an even bigger ball of sunshine by the end of it. Katsuki was beginning to suspect that maybe Ei found a guy he liked, but was keeping it secret for some reason. He would be more concerned if this mystery guy didn’t make Eijirou so damn happy. Besides, it really was Ei’s business, and as long as it wasn’t negatively affecting him, Katsuki wasn’t going to pry much further.

He followed Ei to the kitchen, where his best friend set his present down on the counter and began tearing away the gaudy, bright red wrapping paper.

Ei’s breath caught in his throat. Katsuki couldn’t help but smile smugly as he leaned against the counter.

“Holy shit, Katuski.”

Under the wrapping paper was a cardboard box stuffed to the brim with hero merch. An All Might hoodie, a vintage Crimson Riot t-shirt (to replace the old, fraying one that Ei’s had for years), a Uravity key-chain, and a Pinky thermos.

Ei clutched the new t-shirt to his chest, bouncing even harder on the balls of his feet. He looked at Katsuki, and that was all the warning he got before he was smothered in Eijirou’s bear hug.

“How much did all this cost?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, even though Ei couldn’t see it. He managed to free his arms so he could pat Eijirou on his back.

“Don’t worry about it, Redhead.”

Katsuki could say with confidence that Eijirou was his best friend, and nothing stayed hidden between them for long. He figured that Ei would spill the beans on whoever it was he was crushing on eventually. It was just a matter of time.


Izuku needed to distract himself from thinking about Saturday night. So, naturally, he buried himself in his work. His Shoto video from last week had garnered a fair amount of popularity, with long-time fans thanking him for doing a follow-up on Endeavor. Although, his abdomen was taut with anxiety when he uploaded that video. Talking about the heroes he went to highschool with hadn’t gotten any easier since becoming close with Red Riot.

That being said, Izuku didn’t feel that bad about making a Me Time video for this week. With his upcoming date(?) with Red Riot, he found himself procrastinating on making actual content. Plus, he had to cover an extra shift at the Spilled Ink bookshop for a coworker.

Izuku breathed in and out as he set up his camera. He was sitting on his living room couch, with Honeydew laying on a cushion just out of frame. He started off with a smile to the camera.

“Hey, everybody! I just wanted to thank all of you for being so patient with me lately. I know lots of you really enjoyed my video on Shoto, and I hope I can get back to doing more hero videos soon. But, um, speaking of,” Izuku rubbed the back of his neck, “Sorry, but I’ve just been really busy this week so I’m making another Me Time video. But I hope this can still be a lot of fun!”

Izuku tried to smile again, and found that it came more naturally to him.

“This week, I’m taking you all with me as I go on a walk with Honeydew.”

Hearing the magic “w” word got Honey’s head to perk up. She boofed softly, getting up and pawing at Izuku’s leg.

“Aw, she heard me! Looks like she wants to go out!”

After that, it was a bit of a struggle to clip Honey’s collar to her leash while holding a camera. She yipped and ran in circles around Izuku as he pulled on his shoes and jacket. It took far too long just to get out of the door, but at least it’ll make a great montage for the video.

It turned out that walking Honeydew was more fun with Izuku diligently narrating her many adventures. Honey met and then vehemently tried to pursue a squirrel, yanking on the leash with the strength a dog her size and age shouldn’t possess. She also barked at a much larger dog from across the street, and stopped to pee four times in one minute. All in all, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but Izuku could see why others might find it funny.

Honey, being an older dog, eventually ran out of steam and hat to stop to catch her breath.

“Aww, are you tired, Honey-Bunny? You want to go home now?”

Honeydew gave no answer besides a wheezy huff, which Izuku took as a yes. But first, he patiently waited for her to finish her little break. Izuku looked around, having never really paid attention to this street before. His eye caught something bright red and he did a double take.

Across the street was a beauty shop. A massive poster in the window was advertising a sale on hair products, depicting models with a variety of different hair styles. There was one with shiny, bright red locks. Izuku hummed softly, getting an idea. He turned off the camera.

“Honey, do you think you can wait just a few more minutes before heading home?”

She looked up at him, as if to ask ‘excuse me?’ but with a little prompting, she followed Izuku across the street.


Hitoshi: call me if anything goes wrong, okay?

Izuku stared at his phone.

Izuku: Toshi u live 2 hours away what would you do?

Hitoshi: Ask you to put Red Riot on the phone and then verbally beat his ass.

Hitoshi: For two hours.

Hitoshi: Essentially to stall until I can get there and do it in real life.

Hitoshi: Okay?

Izuku, for some reason, couldn’t help but feel a little less anxious. Regardless of Hitoshi’s standoffish nature, he really was a good friend.

Izuku: Thanks, Toshi. I’ll let you know how it goes

Hitoshi: Good. Have fun, kiddo.

Izuku: I will :)

Izuku took a deep breath before looking up from his phone. It was almost seven o’clock, and he was standing outside one of his favorite local restaurants in downtown Musutafu. A white, paper gift bag was clutched in his arm. His eyes scanned the street, looking for Red Riot.

When establishing the details of their date(?!), Izuku was surprised by how quickly Red Riot accepted his proposed eatery. It wasn’t luxurious or fancy, but Izuku thought the food was good. Hopefully, Red Riot would like it too.

Izuku shivered as a gust of wind swept by. He tugged the collar of his jacket up higher and shifted his weight from foot to foot. Several more minutes passed by and Izuku pulled out his phone again. No messages. He scrolled through Chirper, reading comments from other hero fans. He pocketed his phone. Shifted the gift bag from hand to hand. Izuku shivered in the wind as more time passed.

He pulled out his phone again and read through his texts with Red Riot, just to be sure he wasn’t going crazy.

“Deku!”

He jumped. Izuku clutched his phone to his chest and looked up. Crossing the street was a man in… well… an interesting outfit. But there was no mistaking who it was. Red Riot made his way to Izuku wearing a sleeveless, dark red hoodie with a black thermal underneath. His hood was pulled up and over his head, probably to keep himself from being recognized. Red Riot also chose to wear black jeans and white sneakers. Izuku supposed that the outfit wouldn’t be unwelcomed at a casual restaurant.

(Also holy fuck those biceps on display could probably crush Izuku’s skull.)

Izuku gawked at Red Riot, no idea what to do with the man standing right in front of him.

Red Riot said, “Wow, it’s awesome to see you!”

His toothy grin was even sharper in person. Izuku opened and closed his mouth, at a loss for words. Red Riot was taller than he remembered, and Izuku resisted the urge to take a step back.

“I, uh, hi. Here-” Izuku shoved the paper bag into Red Riot’s arms, “I got you something… for your birthday. I don’t know if you’ll like it or not, but I thought of you when I saw it.”

Izuku didn’t think it was possible, but Red Riot’s smile got even brighter.

“Aw, really? That’s so nice!”

Izuku thought Red Riot would hold onto the bag until later, but he nudged the tissue paper aside and looked in the bag right away. Inside the bag was an assortment of red hair dye and hair gel. Things Izuku thought that the hero would like. Despite this, Izuku was still flabbergasted when Red Riot held the bag to his chest.

“Dude! Thank you so much!”

Izuku smiled back, his cheeks threatening to turn pink.

“It’s no problem, really.”

The wind kicked up again around them, and Izuku wondered if Red Riot was getting cold.

“Should we go in?”

Red Riot nodded and held the door open for them, urging Izuku hurried inside. Safe from the elements, the warm lights of the restaurant greeted them kindly.

Red Riot said, “Wow, they remodeled. I remember coming here a few times when I was in high school.”

Izuku swallowed. “Really?”

He wasn’t going to admit that he also discovered this restaurant when he was in high school. But it was comforting that Red Riot was happy with Izuku’s pick.

The hostess at the front of the restaurant greeted them and lead them to a table towards the back. Izuku relaxed a little bit, this area was a little quieter and more secluded than the rest of the restaurant. On the down side, it was just him and one of the most popular heroes in the country sitting at a table.

Settling down into the seat opposite to Red Riot, Izuku was again struck by how big the other man was. Red Riot’s shoulders were a mile-wide, and his sleeves looked like they were struggling to not split at the seams. Red Riot tugged off his hood, letting his undone hair drape over his shoulders. He had a pale scar on his eyelid that looked like an eyelash. Being this close to him, Izuku doubted he’d last the night.

Izuku also never felt more self-conscious in his life than now. He was never muscular per se, but for a while in high school, he was quite thin and toned. However, over the years he’s started to take a little more after his mom. His cheeks kept their roundness from when he was a child, and he was softer than he used to be in the abdomen and thighs. Red Riot, on the other hand, was a behemoth built of nothing but muscle.

Glancing down at his menu, an icy shock flowed through Izuku. He realized he didn’t even give a thought to what he’d actually be eating tonight. Comfort food or something light? Something that would make it look like he wasn’t a messy eater, or food that Izuku could “dig into”, so to say?

Red Riot took a look at his own menu. “I remember this place having great gyudon, I might go for that.”

The classic beef bowl, huh? Izuku bit the corner of his lip to keep from smiling. He supposed that people really were what they ate. And if Red Riot wasn’t worried about what he was eating, then...

“I’ve been here before too. I like their chicken curry.”

Red Riot asked, “Have you been living in Musutafu for a while?”

Izuku nodded. “All my life. Except I did study abroad in America for a little while.”

Red Riot’s eyes widened. “That’s so cool! What was it like?”

He was leaning forward in his seat, voice nerve-wracking loud. Izuku quickly glanced around them, but the restaurant was packed with other noisy patrons.

Izuku swallowed. “It was fun. I learned lots of English swear words.”

He also gained a lot of weight in America, being surrounded by tons of delicious food. But it was lonely, with no one there understanding him like his mom or Hitoshi. Izuku tried not to dwell on it. Instead, he was distracted by how Red Riot laughed.

“You? Swearing? No way!”

A small, startled sound escaped Izuku’s throat. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Red Riot shrugged, still smiling with his shark-teeth on full display.

“Well, you know-”

He made a hand gesture that was kind of waving at Izuku.

“You’re always so nice! I can’t imagine you saying something mean to anyone.”

Izuku flushed pink and hid his lower face behind his menu. Was this a compliment? Or was Red Riot teasing him?

“That doesn’t mean I can’t swear.”

Izuku got a brief reprieve from Red Riot’s teasing as a waitress came to ask for their orders, but she didn’t protect him for long. When they were alone again, Red Riot asked, “Alright, tough guy. What’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said to someone?”

“Uh...”

There was that time in America Izuku called a boy a motherfucking motherfucker before dissolving into rambling in Japanese. But he was drunk then and that probably didn’t count. And the longer he was silent, the bigger Red Riot’s grin got.

“Okay, fine! I admit it.”

The hero burst out laughing. “See?”

With his menu taken by their waitress, Izuku had nothing to hide behind. He covered his embarrassed smile with his hands.

“Hey, Deku?”

Izuku looked back up. Red Riot wasn’t smiling anymore. Both his arms were resting on the table now. Izuku noticed how he drummed the fingers on one hand, the tapping sound buried by the thrum of the restaurant.

“Uh, sorry, but I hope that didn’t sound weird.”

“Oh, no-” Izuku was speaking before he even knew what he was saying. He’s always been quick to excuse others. “It’s just that I…”

He faltered, wondering if this was appropriate for a first date. Both of Izuku’s arms wrapped around his stomach. “I haven’t really dated anyone for a while now. I guess I’m just… rusty?”

Holy shit, could he be any more awkward?

Izuku couldn’t bring himself to say any more, embarrassed and helpless to the strange look Red Riot was giving him.

“Really?” Red Riot laughed softly, a far cry from his demeanor moments before.

“I would have thought you’d have fans begging for your attention. And to be honest,” Red Riot rubbed the back of his neck, combing his fingers through his hair, “I haven’t been that active on the dating scene, either.”

Izuku cocked his head to the side. Red Riot, one of the top twenty heroes in the country, couldn’t get a date? It never occurred to him that Red Riot’s busy lifestyle might not allow romance. But here he was, making an exception for Izuku.

He reached for his glass, trying to save the situation. “Then here’s to finding someone. For both of us.”

“I’ll cheer to that.”

Red Riot smiled and grabbed his own cup, filled with cherry Coke, and clinked it against Izuku’s own. Izuku sipped from his glass, feeling most of the tension in his stomach melt away.

From then on, it was much easier to interact with Red Riot. The other man had such a boisterous personality, Izuku couldn’t help but be enraptured by him. Seeing him in person was also so much different than from a camera. The gestures he made with his hands and arms weren’t cut off by the edge of a screen. His hair was a brighter red in person and Izuku could see tiny scars criss-crossing over his knuckles.

When their food arrived, Izuku’s stomach growled. But if he thought he was a messy eater, there was no comparison to Red Riot. The other man ate like an actual shark, tearing big chunks out of his meat with gusto.

“That gyudon looks good,” Izuku said, half earnest and half teasing.

Red Riot paused, then grinned. He picked up a smaller bit of beef and held it out right in front of Izuku’s face.

“It is! Go on, have a bite.”

Izuku leaned away from the outstretched chopsticks, eyes wide. He glanced from Red Riot’s sincere, lopsided grin to the piece of meat hanging in front of his face. Then, almost hesitantly, Izuku took the bait. Literally.

“Oh!” He almost dropped the bit of beef, cupping his hand to his mouth, “It’s hot!”

Red Riot laughed, snorting as he pounded his fist on the table.

“Aw, should I have blown on it for you?”

Izuku pouted as he chewed, which even he could imagine didn’t look very threatening.

When the waitress set the check on the table, Izuku instinctively reached for it. And so did Red Riot. Their hands brushed and Izuku could feel the callouses decorating Red Riot’s fingertips.

“Oh- um,” Izuku pulled his hand away, “I can pay.”

He did make Red Riot travel to Musutafu for this, he should be the one picking up the check. But Red Riot shook his head.

“No, don’t worry! I got this.”

He gave Izuku no choice, setting down his credit card without saying another word.

Izuku felt oddly defeated. “Oh, thank you.”

Red Riot said, “No problem!”

When the bill was paid for, the two of them left the restaurant. It was later into the night now, and Izuku zipped his jacket up a little bit higher. He glanced up at Red Riot, wondering if he’d get cold on his way home.

Speaking of getting home, Izuku wondered how Red Riot planned on doing so.

“If you want, I can walk you to the train station.”

Izuku assumed Red Riot wouldn’t have the best memory of the area, and hoped he could help make up for not paying for dinner.

Red Riot stared down at him and laughed. “I was just going to ask if you wanted me to walk you home.”

Oh yeah, he’s a hero, isn’t he?

Izuku felt a little silly asking if Red Riot wanted to be walked to the train station. But the alternative of Red Riot finding out where he lived? That sent up a little red flag in his mind.

Izuku raised his hands, waving them dismissively. “Oh, it’s alright. I can get home by myself.”

Red Riot’s cocked his head to the side. “Are you sure? It’s kind of late, can I at least get you a taxi?”

Izuku balked at the idea of Red Riot spending even more money on him, even if he didn’t live that far away.

“No really, I promise I’ll be fine.”

Red Riot pursed his lips. “Alright. So then… have a good night?”

Izuku nodded. “You too. And thank you for dinner, Red Riot.”

“Kirishima.”

Izuku blinked. “What?”

Red Riot smirked, as if amused. “A while ago, didn’t I say you could call me Kirishima?”

A chill washed over Izuku, and it had nothing to do with the weather. All this time, he’s tried to keep his distance from the hero by staying as professional as possible.

“Oh, I-I forgot.”

Kirishima smiled softly. “Well, don’t forget it next time.”

“I’ll try not to. Goodnight, Kirishima.”

The civilian name felt new and exciting on Izuku’s tongue, but parting from Kirishima felt a little bittersweet.

Walking home, Izuku felt a faint longing, a desire to turn back around. It was strange and new, nothing he’s ever felt with either of his previous boyfriends.

When he got to his apartment and kicked off his shoes, Izuku slid to the floor and welcomed Honeydew into his arms. Izuku buried his face in her fur and let out a high-pitched half-whine, half-groan. Honeydew gave him a few wet kisses in return.

At best, this feeling in Izuku was infatuation. It was Kirishima feeding Izuku’s crush until the hero got bored of him. At worst, Izuku was in horribly real, heart-pounding, stomach churning love. Either way, was it bad that Izuku didn’t want the feeling to go away?


Chapter Text

BestJeanAss: has anyone else noticed that Deku’s been acting differently?

PresentationMic11: No? What do you mean?

BestJeanAss: idk. He seems happier in his newer videos, even his voiceover vids seem more upbeat

CREATI-on: Oh? Maybe he got himself another dog. Or a boyfriend lol

PresentationMic11: Deku is gay?

BestJeanAss: Sweaty,.,,

Izuku clapped a hand to his mouth to stifle his laugh and left the forum he was scrolling through. He was on his way to work, checking Chirper and other social media sites on the short train ride to the Spilled Ink. Not that he’d brag about it, but Izuku had a forum dedicated to him on Chirper where his fans and other hero fanatics could talk about his latest videos. He himself had no part in making it, but he felt obligated to check in on them every now and then. However, Izuku left the forum when an explosion of responses to PresentationMic11 appeared, informing them that yes, Izuku was gay.

But apparently, his long-time fans noticed a difference in him. It had been over two weeks since his first date with Eijirou, and Izuku was still riding that first wave of euphoria. They were even calling each other by their given names now!

The train slowed to a stop, and Izuku would have to get off at the next. In the meantime, he visited the forum dedicated to Red Riot. The top comments took a moment to load. Then, out of nowhere, a close up pic of Eijirou’s muscular pecs popped up on screen, prompting Izuku to scroll past it at the speed of light. He glanced around quickly, but no one on the train detected his embarrassment. Izuku went back to looking at his screen, carefully scrolling up until the very bottom of the picture was visible.

The title read, Red Riot to model latest sportswear?

Ah, so it was clickbait.

Very… manly clickbait.

Izuku scrolled through the forum, finding someone debunking said clickbait, RR fans lamenting about not seeing their favorite hero in tight compression shirts. But to Izuku, that seemed weird. Eijirou already walked around shirtless most of the time, why would they want him to put clothes on?

Another part of Izuku, a tiny part, felt a mix of jealousy and embarrassment. Even though no one else in the world (except Hitoshi) knew they were a thing, Izuku now found it weird when others ogled Eijirou. But, he supposed, that’s what he got for dating a celebrity.

Ah, speak of the devil. A message popped up on Izuku’s screen from Eijirou.

Eijirou: Hey Izuku! You work at the your day job today, right?

Izuku: Yeah! Why do u want to know?

Eijirou: Just wondering! It’s called the Spilled Ink right?

Izuku furrowed his brows.

Izuku: Yes?

Eijirou : Ok thx! Have a good day at work!

Izuku pursed his lips, not at all convinced Eijirou didn’t have something planned. However, the train reached his stop, prompting Izuku to pocket his phone and hurry off. On the short walk to the bookstore, he recalled the first time Eijirou learned Izuku had a part time job. It took him a little while to get that Izuku didn’t necessarily work because he needed the money. He just liked having a consistent schedule in his life, having learned that without classes or a steady job, Izuku stopped functioning as a human being. Plus, it was nice getting an employee discount on books.

Izuku pushed open the door to the Spilled Ink, the tiny bell above the door welcoming him. He clocked in and took his place behind the checkout counter. The day passed by normally, although the little shop was busier than usual. Just as Izuku finished bagging his most recent customer’s books, the door’s bell rang again. He looked up, prepared to greet whoever came in, when he faltered.

A woman in khakis and a pale pink shirt came in, carrying a beautiful bouquet in a crystal vase. She came up to the counter and smiled at him.

“Hi! I have a special delivery for Midoriya Izuku.”

Izuku made a surprised sound. It was for him? “That’s me, but I didn’t order any flowers.”

The delivery woman gave him a knowing look. “Oh, this was sent by someone else! I just need you to sign for it.”

Hesitantly, he took the clipboard offered to him and signed off.

“Thank you, and have a nice day!”

And as soon as the woman arrived, she was gone.

“Hey, what’s with the flowers?”

Izuku looked up, finding his coworker, Nakamura, leaning against the other side of the counter.

“I’m not sure.”

Examining the bouquet, Izuku admired the dozen red roses accompanied by a dozen more in shades of pink and white. There were yellow and bright pink carnations too, along with a dense canopy of smaller, colorful flowers Izuku didn’t recognize.

Izuku found a small card sticking out of the bouquet.

Dinner tomorrow night? Let me know!

-Ei

Izuku ran his thumb running over the high-quality cardstock in awe.

Nakamura asked, “So, who sent it?”

“My… my boyfriend.”

Izuku grinned, giddy from just saying it.


Eijirou was laying on his bed, fresh out of the shower after a long day at work, as he called Izuku. His boyfriend’s face popped up on screen.

“Hey, Eijirou!”

Eijirou couldn’t help it. Right away, he asked, “Did you get the flowers?”

Izuku snorted. The camera flipped from the front view to the back. Eijirou’s flowers were sitting at the end of Izuku’s kitchen counter.

He heard Izuku say, “Thank you so much for the flowers! I love them!”

Eijirou smiled. “Aw, thanks. I’m just happy you liked them.”

He could hear the click of doggy nails on hardwood and a soft whine.

“Is Honeydew with you?”

“Oh yeah, hang on-”

Izuku flipped the camera back around to show Eijirou his dog. Honeydew was on her hind legs, scratching at the kitchen counter. She was looking up at the flowers as they peaked over the edge of the counter.

“Here Honey, you want to sniff?”

The camera dipped and Eijirou could only see a flurry of white and tan fur before he could see Izuku holding the camera at arm’s length. Honeydew was cradled in his other arm, curiously sniffing the bouquet now.

“Aw, I think she likes them too.”

“Don’t worry, I can send a second bouquet for her.”

Izuku laughed, and set Honeydew back on the floor.

“No! I already spoil her enough.”

Izuku looked like he was leaning against the kitchen counter now, the flowers right behind him.

“But did you mean what you said on the card? You want to have dinner tomorrow?”

Eijirou nodded. “Yeah! I want to see you again.”

The first time they really met in person was for dinner, and that was already a few weeks ago. They’ve still been calling each other, but Eijirou wanted to see his boyfriend in person. (The thought that Midoriya Deku was his actual, real boyfriend still sent butterflies flying in Eijirou’s stomach.)

“I’d be fine going to Musutafu, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Izuku bit his lower lip and frowned. “I don’t want to make you go out of your way again. I can go to Tokyo instead.”

“Are you sure? I really don’t mind!”

Izuku nodded. “I’m sure. Plus, I think it’d be good for me to get out of the house.”

“What do you mean? You left this morning to go to work.”

Izuku’s eyebrows raised. He opened his mouth, lips forming a perfect O.

“Okay, first of all-” But by then, he was already dissolving into giggles. “I don’t need you reminding me that I don’t have social life, Ei.”

Eijirou snorted.

“You do have a life, though. You’re going to dinner at one of the finest restaurants in all of Tokyo.”

Izuku, who had glanced away from the camera to look at Honeydew, immediately snapped back to looking at Eijirou.

“What? Where?”

Eijirou grinned. “I’m kidding! Besides, almost all the nice places are booked.”

“You checked?”

Eijirou rolled over, his arms getting tired of holding his phone over his face. “Yeah, this was kind of a last minute thing. But I do know a place with great food! It’ll be fun, I promise.”

Izuku smiled at him. “Alright, if you say so.”

Yes! Eijirou did a little, mental fist pump.

He asked, “Is eight o’clock okay?”

Izuku nodded. “I’ll see you then.”

Then he blew a little kiss to the camera. Eijirou pretended to catched the kiss in his hand and goodnight before ending the call.


Stepping off the train and onto the busy platform was a complete reversal from their first date. Izuku stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets, looking around nervously. Eijirou didn’t say how casual the restaurant was, but Izuku still chose to dress somewhat nice. He put on gray jeans, a dark blue sweater, and a black jacket. Izuku also swapped his favorite red sneakers for black ones. Glancing around the station, Izuku breathed a sigh of relief. Eijirou wasn’t about to murder him with his biceps tonight. Instead, his boyfriend wore a maroon hoodie and plain jeans. His red hair was also tied back into a messy ponytail.

Izuku walked faster, his smile growing the closer they got. Eijirou’s eyes quickly scanned over his form and for half a second, Izuku thought he did something wrong.

Instead, Eijirou said, “Wow, Izuku. You look great.”

He blushed. “Ah, thanks.”

Eijirou smiled before escorting Izuku out of the station.

“So, where’s this place you wanted to go?”

Eijirou was honestly terrible at hiding how excited he was. “It’s a secret! I’ll tell you when we get there!”

It wasn’t a very helpful answer, but Izuku smiled at how happy his boyfriend was.

After turning onto a busy street, Izuku moved closer to Eijirou’s side. The sidewalks were full of people and buzzing with activity. Someone bumped into Izuku and he grabbed Eijirou’s sleeve to steady himself. Immediately, there was a hand on his shoulder, keeping him from losing balance. Izuku looked up, Eijirou looked down. The lights from a nearby boutique were bright enough that it looked like Eijirou had a soft glow around his bright red hair. Izuku snorted, amazed at how similar Eijirou looked to an anime love interest.

“What?” Eijirou asked.

“Nothing.”

Izuku let go of Eijirou’s hoodie, noticing that the hand on his shoulder lingered for a second. He decided to stick even closer to Eijirou’s side as the other man naturally parted the crowd around them with his bulk. Eventually, they stopped outside a nice looking restaurant, the name on front written in blocky lettering and illuminated by golden lights.

“I thought you said all the nice places were booked.”

Eijirou shrugged as he held the door open for Izuku.

“I know the owner and pulled some strings. Don’t worry,” as Izuku walked past him, Eijirou whispered, “you look great anyways.”

Izuku flushed red and hurried inside. The restaurant was mostly full, but it wasn’t as upscale as the exterior lead Izuku to be. If anything, Eijirou wasn’t even the most casually dressed person in the establishment. A hostess at the front greeted them and lead them to a table at the back of the restaurant. Their booth hugged the corner and was fitted with a round table. Izuku realized they had a tiny section of the restaurant to themselves, and better yet, could sit side by side.

Izuku picked up his menu, noticing the blatant American theme. (Delicious, meaty foods? No wonder Eijirou wanted to come here.) He stiffened when an arm wrapped around his shoulders.

“Ei!”

“What?” Eijirou laughed, “No one’s looking at us.”

Izuku held the menu up a bit higher, as if to shield them from the outside world. Eijirou smiled and looked at Izuku’s menu rather than picking up his own. A few minutes later, a waiter came by and asked what they wanted to drink. Izuku was surprised when Eijirou requested the bright red margarita on the front of the drink menu. Tempted by the strawberry-flavoring, Izuku ordered one for himself.

“I didn’t think you’d be into these sort of drinks,” Izuku said. He thought Eijirou would be more interested in beers.

Eijirou shrugged. “I have a terrible sweet tooth, actually, and these drinks have a lot of sugar in them. Plus, it’s red! Can’t go wrong with that!”

Izuku laughed at him. When their drinks arrived a few minutes later, Izuku’s eyes widened at how sweet-sour it tasted. (It reminded him of studying abroad in America.)

“Are you ready to order?” The waiter asked.

Izuku nodded and ordered a steak. Eijirou chose the largest looking burger on the menu. When their waiter left, Eijirou asked, “So, how was your day?”

It was like he was genuinely, unabashedly interested in Izuku’s civilian life. Eijirou seemed to think everything he said was interesting, too. He asked about Izuku’s plans for his next video (he, ahem, didn’t really have any). He even wanted to know how Honeydew was doing.

Izuku, somehow, kept forgetting how attentive Eijirou actually was. He also urged Izuku closer as he spoke, and he conceded. He ended up resting his head on Eijirou’s shoulder, cushioned by his soft, well-worn hoodie. Eijirou also smelled like pine needles and a combination of other manly scents. Cologne, maybe? After all these weeks of dating, they had never been this intimate before. But it was nice. It was really nice.

When their food arrived, Izuku gawked at the size of Eijirou’s burger.

“You’re going to eat all of that?” he asked.

“Hell yeah, this is my cheat day!”

Izuku marveled at the sight of Eijirou devouring his burger. Eijirou’s shark teeth ripped apart the burger Izuku was sure he wouldn’t even be able to fit in his mouth.

By then, Izuku had finished his first margarita and with Eijirou’s encouragement, ordered another brightly colored drink despite his low tolerance. But Izuku could tell that he was getting tipsy. He was growing tired and everything around him sounded muffled. Two free beers were delivered to their table later, complimentary from the owner of the restaurant, and exacerbated the issue. But it was technically a gift, and Izuku didn’t want to seem rude.

By the end of dinner, Izuku was becoming a mess and he knew it. He had always been the sleepy sort of drunk, and had to fight to keep his eyes open. He leaned freely on Eijirou’s arm and watched as he pulled out his credit card. A few minutes later, Izuku was helped out of his seat. He stumbled on the way out of the restaurant, humming to himself.


Eijirou didn’t think Izuku would be as giggly as he was when he was drunk. He pushed open the doors to the restaurant, Izuku leaning on him for support. Eijirou blinked as raindrops began falling on his face. Meanwhile, Izuku was swaying in a way that Eijirou didn’t like. Even if he was just tipsy, he doubted his boyfriend could get home without falling asleep on the train. Besides, it was raining hard and Izuku’s jacket didn’t have a hood.

“Hey, babe?” Eijirou asked.

It took a second for Izuku to notice he was being spoken to.

“Hm?”

Eijirou bit his lip. He shook off the light buzz at the back of his head.

“It’s a long ride home for you. Do you just want to come back to my place?”

Eijirou could accompany Izuku home, but his apartment was much closer. Besides, Izuku looked like he was about to pass out wherever Eijirou would let him.

Izuku stared at him. “Your place?”

Eijirou nodded. “Yeah, I don’t think you should take the train.”

A small part of him accused himself of taking advantage of his boyfriend and Eijirou tried stomping that part out. He had no intention of doing anything while Izuku was drunk.

Eventually, Izuku giggled. Actually giggled. “Sure.”

Eijirou internally breathed a sigh of relief. They started heading for Eijirou’s apartment, but after a block, he managed to flag down a taxi instead. On the ride home, Izuku was murmuring under his breath and tracing shapes on Eijirou’s pec.

By the time they got to Eijirou’s apartment, Izuku was “resting his eyes” and “obviously not falling asleep”. Eijirou quickly paid the taxi driver and got out of the car on his side. He rushed over to Izuku’s side and opened the door. Hauling his “not drunk, totally fine” boyfriend out of the cab, Eijirou kept an arm wrapped around Izuku’s waist. Still ignoring his own buzz, Eijirou gave the doorman a quick nod before taking the elevator up.

When they got out of the elevator, Izuku asked, “Where are we?”

“This is, uh, my place.”

He fumbled with getting his keypad out of his wallet once they reached his front door. Izuku had exchanged his mutterings for silently leaning even heavier on Eijirou’s side. Pushing the door open, Eijirou squinted in the darkness. He wasn’t sure how late it was, but Katsuki was already in bed.

“Come on,” Eijirou whispered.

Toeing off their shoes, Izuku followed Eijirou with minimal fuss. Flicking on the lights to his bedroom, the both winced at the sudden brightness. Guiding Izuku to the bed, Eijirou let him sit down before helping him out of his jacket. The sweater underneath was also wet, not to mention Izuku’s jeans as well. Eijirou bit his lip. He shouldn’t let him fall asleep in wet clothes, right?

Shaking his head again, he knelt by the dresser and pulled out a clean t-shirt and some old sweatpants.

“Hey, hey babe?”

Izuku had started leaning to one side again, although he jerked upright when he heard Eijirou.

“Hm?”

“Got some dry clothes for you. Want to put them on?”

Izuku hummed, assumedly in agreement, and grabbed the hem of his damp sweater. Eijirou helped him pull off his top and got the clean shirt on him. (Holy shit his tummy was so soft looking and cute and Eijirou really wanted to touch him, but resisted.) After some difficult maneuvering, they also got Izuku’s jeans off and replaced them with the sweatpants.

At that point, Eijirou was okay with tucking Izuku under the covers and letting him finally rest. He threw on his own fresh pair of sweats and crawled onto the other side of the bed. But it had been a while since Eijirou had anyone else in his bed, and he was hesitant to touch Izuku at all. A minute passed, and Eijirou assumed his boyfriend was already asleep. So he was startled when Izuku rolled over and pressed himself against Eijirou’s side.

“Warm…” Izuku murmured.

Eijirou snorted. He pressed a kiss to Izuku’s temple and prayed his boyfriend wouldn’t throw up on him in the morning.


Izuku shifted in bed and groaned. His head hurt his body felt heavy. He felt the bed dip and the sheets rustle. Assuming it was only Honeydew, Izuku drifted back off to sleep.

Sometime later, Izuku grunted and opened his eyes. Immediately, he winced at the bright lights around him. His head hurt, but it wasn’t the worst hangover he ever had. He buried his face in his pillow, vaguely registering that the texture of the pillowcase was firmer than he remembered. From down the hall, Izuku could hear a metallic clicking sound.

“Honey?” Izuku asked.

Was she hungry? What time was it anyways? He opened his eyes, blinking slowly. White walls, not pale blue, greeted him. Furrowing his brows, Izuku sat up slowly. His breath hitched as a cold shock went through him. He didn’t know where he was, and this wasn’t his bedroom. The bed was too big, the windows were too big, and the room itself was too big. Izuku looked around, eyes landing on a massive poster of Crimson Riot taped to the wall. He relaxed a little, getting a good idea of where he was.

Wait. Izuku lifted the covers, breathing another sigh of relief when he discovered he wasn’t naked. But these also weren’t his clothes. Given how the collar of the t-shirt he wore kept slipping off his shoulder, it was probably Eijirou’s.

So… what happened last night? Izuku pursed his lips and crawled out of the bed. On the nightstand, he found a bottle of aspirin, a cup of water, and his clothes from the night before (messily folded).

Wondering if the aspirin was left for him, Izuku downed a pill and drank half the cup of water. He reached for his clothes, but both his sweater and jeans were a little damp. That’s right, it rained last night so Izuku stayed with Eijirou.

The sound of muffled clinking pans got his attention again. Izuku looked back at his clothes. Even if they were a little wet still, he thought Eijirou would want his own back as soon as possible. (Although, it was a herculean effort to pull on his damp jeans.) Izuku patted his pockets, finding his phone, wallet, and house key in his pants where he left them. He checked his phone, finding that it was on only thirteen percent battery. It was also a half hour past noon.

Frowning, Izuku went to the bedroom door and opened it. He blinked in surprise at how large the apartment was, especially for one in Tokyo. The bedroom opened up to a short hallway with a few other doors. But from what he could see, the rest of the apartment was open space. Izuku hesitantly left the bedroom and walked down the hallway. On one side of the apartment was a living room with an enormous flat screen television and multiple couches. At the other end was a kitchen. Eijirou stood at the stove, whistling while he cooked. He looked up and saw Izuku standing outside the hallway.

“Hey, babe! I’m making pancakes if you want some for lunch.”

Izuku approached the kitchen and took a seat at the island. Eijirou was dressed only in sweatpants and Izuku fought to not fixate on his abs. Instead, he watched Eijirou flip small pancakes in a pan, each one dotted with chocolate chips. Although he was hungry, the idea of eating anything sweet made him queasy.

“What happened last night?”

Eijirou smiled at him sheepishly. “You got a little drunk. I didn’t want you to go home alone, so I brought you back to my place. I hope you don’t mind.”

Izuku flushed, embarrassed. He didn’t ordinarily get drunk, least of all while on a date. “I’m sorry if I was a handful.”

Eijirou laughed, the sharp sound jarring Izuku’s headache.

“Don’t worry about it. All you wanted to do was go to sleep, so I just let you.”

Izuku buried the lower half of his face in his hands and groaned. Now that sounded like him. Izuku yawned and stretched his legs under the counter. He propped his chin on his hand as he watched Eijirou flip the pancakes over. When he started taking them out of the pan, Izuku noticed a third plate.

“Who's that one for?”

Eijirou looked confused for a second. Then he made a little oh sound.

“Sorry, I should have told you I have a roommate.”

Izuku wondered why Eijirou never mentioned him before.

“Oh, I didn’t know. I hope I didn’t bother then last night.”

Eijirou shrugged. “He was already asleep when we got here. He just came back from a morning patrol, though.”

Ah, so Eijirou was roommates with another hero. Izuku thought their combined salaries at least explained the size of the apartment. When Eijirou started pouring fresh batter onto the pan, a door opened from down the hall.

A voice called out, “Ei? You making pancakes?”

Izuku sucked in a breath. His shouldered stiffened.

“Yeah!” Eijirou called back, “Want some?”

“Sure! Give me a minute.”

Then the door closed again. But Izuku knew that voice. He knew it from his childhood, from high school, from TV and radio stations. He’d know it anywhere. Panic rose up from his stomach like bile and lodged itself in his throat. Izuku shot to his feet.

“I just remembered!” He said, trying to think of something to remember.

It was past noon. He hadn’t been home since the previous night. Honey hadn’t been fed this morning. Then Izuku cursed himself for not even remembering his own dog before now.

“I need to give Honeydew her medicine!”

He looked around, finding his shoes near the front door to the apartment.

“I’m so sorry, I just- I-I’m sorry.”

Izuku kept muttering apologies as he rushed to put his shoes on. He fumbled with the shoelaces more than once. At that point, Izuku just sat on the floor and tied his laces into knots.

“Hey,” Eijirou said, “it’s alright! You can go home if you want to.”

He had followed Izuku to the door, standing like he wanted to do something to help.

He said, “This is my fault. If I thought about Honeydew, I would have brought you home.”

The door down the hall opened. Izuku could hear footsteps approaching. His heart started beating harder in his chest.

“It’s fine, it’s fine, it’s not your f-”

Izuku winced. He got up too fast and now black spots danced across his vision. Eijirou’s hands were on him in an instant, steadying him.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for a few more minutes? You should at least try to eat something.”

Izuku groaned softly. He was trying and failing to keep his breathing level.

“I’m fine! I just need to get home.”

Izuku reached for the doorknob. It was locked. Eijirou moved to unlock it.

The footsteps stopped.

“Deku?”

Izuku looked up. Kacchan started at him from across the room.

The front door opened and Izuku bolted. A few meters from Eijirou’s apartment, he realized he didn’t know where he was or where he was going. Eijirou caught up to him and guided him to the elevator. They got in and the doors closed just as a blond head looked out into the hall. On the ride down to the first floor, Izuku’s heart was still hammering in his ribcage. He squeezed his eyes shut.

Kacchan is here Kacchan lives with Eijirou Kacchan recognized him and Kacchan knows he’s dating Eijirou now…

Izuku was paralyzed by his thoughts until a hand touched his shoulder.

“Izuku?” Eijirou’s voice sounded far away.

“What’s wrong? Please talk to me…”

It took Izuku too long to realize he was being spoken to. He blinked and something wet dripped down his cheek. He was crying.

Perfect, he thought. Perfect, perfect, perfect!

Just what he needed, to break down in front of Eijirou.

“I-I’m fine,” he said.

He wasn’t fine. Eijirou knew it too. Izuku just wanted his body to stop doing everything it was doing, including breathing.

Eijirou cupped his face. “No, it’s not. Please tell me what’s wrong.”

His hands were so warm and sturdy, Izuku wished they could stay like this forever. He swallowed. His throat felt dry.

“I’m worried about Honeydew.” he said. It wasn’t a complete lie.

“She’s an old dog, and she missed her first meal today.”

“Don’t worry, it’s gonna be alright. You’ll be home in a bit and she’s going to be so happy to see you.”

Eijirou’s voice was so calm and comforting. It was no wonder he was ranked so highly in rescue ops. Izuku’s hand moved to cover Eijirou’s own. Just as he began to calm down, the elevator slowed to a stop and opened up. Izuku quickly wiped his tears on his sleeve and hurried out. Eijirou followed after him. When he got outside, Izuku had no idea where he was. Again.

Eijirou said, “The train station’s not far from here. I can walk you there, or I can get a car for you.”

Izuku didn’t want to walk, but he didn’t want to wait for a ride either. He conceded to letting Eijirou guide him to the station. On the way, neither of them spoke, although Eijirou’s hand kept brushing against his own. He refused to leave Izuku’s side until he got his ticket and was about to board.

“Text me when you get home?” he asked.

Izuku nodded. “Thank you for this. And for dinner last night.”

Eijirou smiled. He brushed a stay lock of hair out of Izuku’s eyes.

“Don’t worry about it, I had a lot of fun.”

Izuku managed to smile back before they had to part ways. Being in a crowded train car surrounded by strangers didn’t exactly soothe his nerves, but Izuku felt better when he saw Eijirou wave goodbye to him.


When Eijirou didn’t immediately come back after taking his little boyfriend down the elevator, Katsuki decided to help himself to Ei’s pancakes. Regardless of the chocolate in them, they tasted bitter in Katsuki’s mouth.

Midoriya Izuku was Eijirou’s boyfriend this entire time and Katsuki never knew. One part of him was impressed by how long Eijirou kept it secret. Katsuki knew how big of a fanboy he was for that damn nerd. But the rest of him was furious with himself. Deku was standing right in front of him and he didn’t do anything.

He didn’t ask Deku to wait, to stay and talk; he just stood there like a useless asshole as Deku threw himself out of the room. He ran from Katsuki as if he were some sort of monster. And in all honesty, Katsuki couldn’t even blame him. The last words he ever said to Deku rolled around in his mind, resurfacing after years of trying to stomp them down.

Katsuki looked up when the front door opened. Eijirou kicked off his shoes and sat next to him in the kitchen.

“So, where’d your little boyfriend go?”

Eijirou sighed and grabbed his plate of (cold) pancakes. “He needed to get home to feed his dog.”

Katsuki hummed in annoyance.

“Were you ever going to tell me your boyfriend was Deku?”

Eijirou kept his eyes on his plate. Guilty fucker.

“He likes his privacy,” Eijirou said after a while.

Katsuki rolled his eyes. Sure he did with his multi-million follower YouTube channel.

“I’m surprised the nerd managed to hook up with you.”

“He’s not a nerd, he’s just really smart.”

Katsuki exhaled sharply, almost amused. “You wouldn’t have been able to tell that in high school.”

Eijirou looked at him weirdly. “What do you mean?”

“Do you not remember?” Katsuki asked. His frustration grew when Eijirou shook his head.

“Are you shitting me? Ei, he went to high school with us!”

Eijirou looked dubious. “I think I’d remember him.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “You idiot. Go get your yearbook.”

He knew Eijirou kept their stupid yearbook from their senior year and he knew Deku was in it.

“Fine.”

Eijirou hopped off his stool and went to his room. He came back a few minutes later with their old-ass yearbook. He set it down on the counter and they flipped through the pages together.

“He was in Gen Ed,” Katsuki said.

They skipped past the hero classes and found the pictures from 3-C.

“Holy shit,” Eijirou whispered.

Right there on the page was proof that Katsuki was right. Midoriya Izuku’s face stared back at them. He looked a little younger, but his eyes and hair and freckles were the same. Except, unlike everyone else on the page, he wasn’t smiling. Despite all the bravado he had while growing up, Deku was tight lipped and almost wistful in his photograph.

“I wonder why he never mentioned it.”

Katsuki hated how upset Eijirou sounded. It wasn’t his fault for forgetting Deku. But from what he could tell, Eijirou built his relationship with someone he previously thought was a stranger. That had to hurt a little.


When Izuku got home, Honeydew howled with excitement and nipped at him in outrage at not being fed. She also peed in the kitchen, but Izuku couldn’t blame her for it.

“Here, Honey-Bunny. I’m sorry I didn’t come home last night.”

Izuku filled her dish to the brim, her arthritis medicine stuffed in a chunk of wet food on top. His headache faded by then, but he was still tired. So he sat in his day-old clothes on the floor next to Honeydew and let his thoughts wander. Just like the first time he saw Kacchan, months ago on the day of his book signing, Izuku was too much of a coward to do anything. Despite how much he improved mentally since high school, he just couldn’t look at the boy from his childhood without breaking down.

A soft whine escaped Izuku’s throat. He buried his hands in his hair, frustrated with himself. His vision blurred as he began to cry again. He still remembered the last time Kacchan actually spoke to him. They were graduating that day.

...

Six Years Ago

Izuku didn’t want to go to the ceremony tomorrow. He wanted to stay in his dorm room and die, or to go home and pretend he didn’t exist. He hugged his knees to his chest and sobbed, muffling the sound with his pillow. He continuously shivered from the cold air coming in from the open window. The curtains were drawn close, but they still waved in the breeze.

Izuku was a failure. After years of telling himself he could do it, after years of filling notebooks with observations, after years of believing in himself, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t become a hero, and now he’d never be one. Izuku wanted to claw at his skin until he could rip a hole in himself and crawl out, just so he could get away his pathetic body.

Izuku inhaled and let another wail wrench itself from his throat. He didn’t care about how loud he was; all the others from class 3-C were in the common room celebrating. Between them and himself, Izuku almost didn’t hear his phone buzz. He looked up and winced at his phone screen’s brightness. But it was his mom calling, and he couldn’t say no to her. He cleared his throat and answered his phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Izuku!”

“H-hi mom.”

He tried to speak without stuttering, forcing down his sobs for the moment.

“I’m sorry for calling so late, but I can’t sleep! I’m so proud of you, baby!”

Izuku smiled a little, despite it hurting him even more. His mom should know he was nothing to be proud of.

“You know you don’t have to come, right?”

“Of course I do! You’re graduating!”

She laughed, the sound ringing in Izuku’s ears.

“I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.”

Izuku’s breath stuttered and he held the phone away from his face as he exhaled as quietly as possible.

He brought the phone back to his face and managed to say, “Thanks, mom.”

“Oh, you sound so tired! I’ll let you go to sleep now. I love you!”

“...Love you too.”

Then she hung up. Izuku dropped the phone onto his mattress and buried his face in his pillow again. When he was too tired to keep crying, Izuku got up and went to the window. His room was on the highest floor and more than once, he considered jumping out.

His hands gripped the windowsill, but Izuku knew he wouldn’t do it. His mom was looking forward to seeing him tomorrow. Izuku sighed and shut the window before crawling into bed.


Izuku probably clapped the loudest out of all the people at the ceremony when Hitoshi was handed his diploma. The students from the hero classes were allowed to wear their costumes to graduation, although it was excruciating for Izuku to look at. But Hitoshi looked amazing in his costume and Izuku could tell he was smiling behind his capture weapon.

After 3-A and 3-B received their diplomas, Izuku’s class stood up. When he accepted the piece of paper from Principal Nezu, he wished more than anything that he could disappear. In that moment, every student, parent, and staff’s eyes were on him and it weighed heavy on his shoulders. At least his moment in the sun ended quick enough as the next person’s name was called.

At the end of the graduation ceremony, the students were dismissed first. Izuku didn’t have a particular goal in mind when he exited the auditorium. He wanted to find his mom, but he also scanned the crowd for Hitoshi. After some wandering, Izuku bumped into someone from behind.

“Sorry-”

“Oh, hey Deku.”

Izuku was convinced the universe wanted him dead. Kacchan stared down at him with a smug grin on his face. Everything about him was superior to Izuku. He was stronger, braver, more confident. Kacchan had an amazing Quirk that gave him a costume and a hero license.

“Perfect timing. Take a look at this,” Kacchan said.

Izuku’s bottom lip was already quivering. “Please, Kacchan.”

He couldn’t do this. Not on this day or at this moment.

“Shut up.”

Of course, Izuku never had a choice when it came to his childhood bully. Kacchan reached into a pocket of his costume and pulled out his wallet. He flipped it open, showing off his hero license. His grin looked more like a snarl. Like he was a wolf that found a rabbit.

“So, where’s yours, Deku?”

Izuku couldn’t say anything. He was too afraid of crying the moment he opened his mouth. Kacchan tilted his head.

“Oh yeah, that’s right. After all that talk, you couldn’t become a hero, could you?”

He still didn’t say anything. His eyes felt wet and burning hot.

“What’s wrong, Deku? Gonna cry again?”

Izuku did. He broke down and absolutely started sobbing in front of Kacchan.

“Hey, what the fuck-”

To Kacchan’s credit, he did sound slightly surprised. Like he didn’t expect Izuku to actually cry.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

Izuku couldn’t take another moment of looking at everything he couldn’t be. He turned around and ran. He thought Kacchan was maybe following after him so Izuku started shoving past people until he reached the edge of the crowd. He hid himself behind a tree and cried. As he wiped his eyes on his sleeves, he heard his mom calling his name. Izuku looked around the tree and spotted her heading in his direction. Her smile faded when she saw his face.

“Izuku? Baby, what’s wrong?”

He tried to smile. “Nothing, I’m just...really happy.”

She started smiling again and touched his cheek.

“I’m so proud of you, Izuku. Now, where do you want to go for dinner? I’m sure there’s plenty of nice restaurants around.”

“A-actually, can we just go home? All the restaurants are probably booked anyways.”

His mom touched Izuku’s arm and laughed, flattered that he’d want her home cooking instead of a fancy meal.

“If that’s what you want.”

Izuku smiled a little wider for her. The two of them started walking toward the exit, away from Yuuei and wherever Kacchan was.

Chapter Text

After coming home from spending the night with Eijirou and feeding Honeydew, Izuku showered and changed into his pajamas. He took out the most appealing container of leftovers from his fridge and started heating it in the microwave. In the meantime, he texted Hitoshi.

Izuku: Hey, can u talk now?

Izuku set his phone down and checked on his food. The reheated pizza was still stiff and cold. A few minutes later, his phone buzzed.

Hitoshi: I just woke up but yeah I can talk.

Izuku felt bad for waking Hitoshi up, even if it was past noon, but he felt relieved he had someone to talk to. Izuku smiled when Hitoshi’s face popped up on his screen. His hair was even more unkempt than usual, but his eyes were sharp and attentive.

“So, what’s up?”

Izuku sat on the kitchen floor and sighed.

“I got drunk and slept over at Eijirou’s place last night.”

Hitoshi’s brows raised in alarm before his stare hardened and he asked, “What did he do?”

“Ah, nothing happened! He was actually a lot more accommodating than I expected.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

Izuku swallowed. “I saw Kacchan. They’re roommates.”

“What?” Hitoshi sat up in his bed. “What did he say to you?”

“Nothing,” Izuku said, “I left before he could say anything. I-”

Izuku sighed with frustration. “I ran away.”

He almost cried in front of Eijirou, too. All because he couldn’t handle seeing his childhood bully like a normal adult. Honeydew, lured either by the scent of food or because she wanted attention, wandered into the kitchen. She nosed at Izuku’s side before sitting down next to him. Izuku gave her a light squeeze.

Hitoshi asked, “Are you okay?”

Izuku shook his head. “I don’t know.”

The microwave beeped, but Izuku didn’t get up.

“I made such a scene and Eijirou is going to ask about it, I know he will. And I might have to talk to Kacchan again but...I just can’t, Hitoshi. I can’t do it again.”

Dread and another onslaught of sobs threatened to rise up in his throat. Hitoshi was quiet for another moment.

“Do you want me to come over?”

“No, you don’t have to do that.”

Izuku couldn’t bear the thought of Hitoshi going out of his way for him, even if they both knew he didn’t being alone. Besides, if worse came to worst, he could spend the night with his mom.

“Well, how about I come over tomorrow, then? I have the day off anyways.”

That made Izuku feel even worse. Sunday’s were Hitoshi’s regular days off. Izuku didn’t want to take that from him just so his friend could play babysitter.

“Hitoshi, I’m fine. I just wanted to talk.”

His best friend didn’t look convinced.

“You know that won’t stop me from worrying about you,” Hitoshi said quietly.

Izuku swallowed the burning hot lump in his throat. He dared not to speak unless his voice cracked.

“I’m completely fine with visiting tomorrow. We can go to that cafe you like, or we can watch movies in our pajamas, okay? It’ll be just us.”

Izuku smiled and wondered what on earth he did to deserve Hitoshi.

“Us… and Honey, right?”

He scooped up Honeydew in his arm and showed her to Hitoshi. He laughed.

“Yeah, just us and Honey-D.”

She woofed softly, sniffing and licking Izuku’s chin. He set her down, continuing his talk while he got his pizza out of the microwave.

“What am I going to tell Eijirou?” Izuku wondered out loud. He was sitting at the kitchen counter picking at his food, his phone propped up with a banana while Honeydew sat by his feet.

“That his best friend is a piece of shit.”

“Hitoshi.”

“What? It’s the truth and I should say it.”

Izuku groaned. “I just… I don’t want to break up with Eijirou because of this. He’s amazing, but I know I’m just going to be a burden on his relationship with Kacchan.”

He could feel his lower lip quiver. “And if it came to it, I know Eijirou would choose Kacchan over me.”

Hitoshi was in his own kitchen at this point, drinking straight from a carton of orange juice.

“What makes you say that?”

Izuku shrugged. His meal was becoming more unappetizing by the moment.

“He’s known Kacchan for years. I can’t compete with that.”

Hitoshi set down his carton and pointed at him. “You’re jumping to conclusions again, Izuku. You don’t even know if Kirishima is going to ask you about this.”

He knew Hitoshi was probably right, but Izuku still pushed his plate away from himself and buried his face in his hands. He could already tell he was going to cry again, and he was just so sick of himself. He was tired of always assuming the worst was going to happen and yet, he saw no other way things could go.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“Tha’s fine,” Hitoshi said. “And Izuku?”

He looked up. Hitoshi’s eyes were boring into him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

He nodded. The call ended. Izuku got up and rummaged through his drawers for a fork and knife. He cut up the pizza into pieces and set the plate on the floor for Honeydew to eat. Izuku went to his bedroom and took a nap instead.


Eijirou spent most of the afternoon after his date with Izuku on a weekend patrol. He was chaperoning a few new interns, showing them the ropes while also keeping his eye out for actual danger. He knew he needed to keep his thoughts about Izuku to a minimum, but Eijirou found his mind frequently wandering. His boyfriend never called or texted him that he got home safely. But there could have been a lot of reasons for it. Maybe he forgot. Maybe he just wanted to rest and relax while his hangover went away. Maybe he needed to take care of Honeydew. There were lots of reasons.

That’s what Eijirou kept telling himself all day.

“Um, Red Riot? Sir?”

He blinked, realizing he had been guiding his little troop down the street in silence for a few minutes now. One of his three interns, a second-year girl, was staring at him.

“Yeah?”

“Are you okay?”

He cocked his head to the side. She had a telepathy-based Quirk, so maybe she could tell he wasn’t focusing. Eijirou smiled at her.

“Yeah! Why wouldn’t I be?”

She bit her lip, like she was debating what to say. “You seem… upset.”

By then, the two other interns were watching him intently. Eijirou knew he needed to make a good first impression on them, it was the first day of their internships, after all.

“Don’t worry, I’m just a little upset that there’s nothing good to show you three!”

Eijirou quickly added, “Not that I’d ever hope for danger, of course.”

He laughed it off, and his three mini-heroes seemed satisfied with his answer. Eijirou spent the rest of the patrol breaking down the details of being a hero (how to file reports, how to work with police, etc). It wasn’t very thrilling, but it was important stuff. It also did a great job of keeping Eijirou’s thoughts from wandering.

At the end of the day, Eijirou made sure to either walk his interns to the train station or to wherever they were living for the time being. When that was done, he made his way back to his agency’s building to shower and change out of his costume. As soon as his civilian clothes were on, Eijirou checked his phone. Nothing from Izuku. Something cold began creeping up Eijirou’s chest. While walking home, Eijirou distracted himself by using Moogle to look up Midoriya Deku.

Nothing out of the ordinary showed up. His YouTube channel was the first link to appear. Below that was his Mikipedia entry. Curious, Eijirou tapped on it.

Midoriya Izuku, known by his online pseudonym as “Midoriya Deku” or simply “Deku” is...

Eijirou skimmed through the rest. He found out which college Izuku went to, and even that he was apparently entirely fluent in English from studying abroad in America, but nothing about his high school. Eijirou furrowed his brows. Izuku was a Yuuei alumnus! That was a big deal! How could his Miki page not know that?

He searched Midoriya Deku high school. He got nothing.

Midoriya Izuku high school. Nothing.

Where did Midoriya Izuku go to high school? Nothing.

Did Midoriya Izuku go to UA? Nothing.

Weird. Maybe Izuku just never mentioned it online before. And if the two of them weren’t in the same class, Eijirou supposed that Izuku probably just never realized they went to high school together.

But he was friends with Shinsou, wasn’t he? They were close enough that Shinsou had Izuku’s phone number and was his friend. So Izuku must have seen Eijirou with Shinsou at least once while in high school. But then again, Eijirou probably saw Shinsou with Izuku and couldn’t remember it. Willing to giving his boyfriend the benefit of the doubt, Eijirou waited until getting home before deciding to do anything.

When Eijirou walked through the front door, he could hear pots and pans clinking. Katsuki already started making dinner. Eijirou’s stomach rumbled as he turned a chair from the kitchen table around to face Katsuki.

Katsuki asked, “How was patrol with the newbies?”

Eijirou shrugged. “It went well, but there weren’t any big baddies or anything.”

Katsuki snorted. “So what, it was just busting jaywalkers today?”

“Pretty much.”

Eijirou went back to looking at his phone screen, frustrated that apparently, no one else knew that Izuku went to Yuuei with him.

Except… Katsuki remembered. Eijirou looked up at his best friend while Katsuki chopped vegetables.

“Hey, bro?”

Katsuki hummed in response, but he didn’t look up.

“So, how’d you remember that Izuku went to school with us?”

That got Katsuki to stop. He looked at Eijirou strangely, his sharp, red eyes narrowed and guarded.

“We grew up together.”

Eijirou blinked. “What?”

Katsuki started chopping the vegetables faster. He kept his eyes on the cutting board.

“I knew him when we were kids. We went to school together our entire lives.”

Eijirou leaned forward in his seat, reservations forgotten. “Dude! That is so cool!”

Eijirou couldn’t believe his best friend grew up with his current boyfriend, what a crazy coincidence! But it raised so many questions. How did Izuku end up with connections with so many heroes? Why didn’t Katsuki ever bring this up before? Why didn’t he like Deku’s YouTube channel?

He asked, “What was Izuku like as a kid?”

Katsuki shoved his veggies off the cutting board and dropped his knife in the sink. The metallic clunk rang across the kitchen. Eijirou could see the muscles of Katsuki’s jaw flex as he grinded his teeth together.

Katsuki pinched the bridge of his nose. “Ei…I don’t want to talk about it.”

Eijirou stared at him. Did he say something wrong?

Katsuki went back to cooking. He dumped the vegetables into a pot, but when he looked up, his eyes met Eijirou’s. Katsuki didn’t look upset, just tired.

“We never really had a good relationship,” he said.

“You and Izuku?”

Katsuki nodded. “We used to be friends, back when we were little kids. Like, really little. But we stopped being close as we grew up.”

Eijirou could see the tension in his best friend’s shoulders. Could see it in how he busied himself with cooking so he didn’t have to talk. Despite the new questions (and red flags) waving in his mind, Eijirou decided not to press Katsuki any further. He left the kitchen to give Katsuki some space, but it did make him curious; what on earth happened between them?

Eijirou remembered Katsuki from early in their high school years. He was (and still is) the most competitive person Eijirou ever met. He was highly motivated, but really aggressive and was honestly kind of a brat. If Izuku spent his entire childhood with Katsuki before he learned how to control his aggression…

Eijirou didn’t like the twisting, heavy suspicion that settled in his stomach. He knew that the way Izuku ran from the apartment earlier in the day wasn’t normal, even if he truly was worried about Honeydew. There was something frantic, almost terrified, in the way he flung himself out of the apartment.

He checked his phone again. Still nothing from Izuku. But it was getting late, and he didn’t want to bother Izuku if he was busy or tired. However, if he still didn’t hear from his boyfriend by tomorrow, Ei would call him. And maybe he’d get some more answers too.


Before he heard the knock at his door, Honeydew was already up and running. She yipped and barked, trying to jump up to see who it was through the window next to the door. Izuku followed after after her and opened the front door. Hitoshi smiled at him.

“Toshi!”

Izuku reached up to hug him. Hitoshi squeezed back, and it just felt so good to see his best friend again. Honeydew pawed at their feet and Izuku let go of Hitoshi to pick her up.

“Hey, Honey.” Hitoshi said to her.  

Izuku grinned. “I just got a boyfriend, Toshi. You can’t hit on me now.”

Hitoshi laughed. He gave Honeydew a pat on the head on his way in.

“Was talking to your dog. She’s way cuter than you.”

Izuku faked a gasp and clutched at his chest. The two of them grabbed sodas from Izuku’s fridge and spent an hour in the living room, just talking about anything before it turned to the inevitable.

“So,” Hitoshi said, “you want to talk about you and Bakugou?”

Izuku pulled his feet onto the couch, holding his knees to his chest.

“I don’t know.”

“You want me to go beat him up?”

Izuku snorted.

“Not yet.”

Not that Izuku would ever really ask him to. He had already done more than Izuku could ever ask. Back in high school, Hitoshi was an absolute thorn in Kacchan’s side. He constantly pranked and annoyed him, setting off a vicious 2-year long rivalry between them. Izuku didn’t think Kacchan knew, but Hitoshi only did it to keep him from focussing all his aggression on Izuku. It worked, in a way. Kacchan went through periods, sometimes months at a time, where he completely ignored Izuku. But at other times, just seeing each other in the hallway would reignite his desire to abuse Izuku.

“Do you think I did the right thing? Leaving, that is.”

Hitoshi studied Izuku for a moment. The ever-present shadows beneath his eyes couldn’t conceal the gears turning in Hitoshi’s head.

“He definitely would have said something to you if you stayed. And I don’t think he would’ve let you leave so easily then.”

Izuku frowned, the anxiety from earlier starting to resurface. That wasn’t a very comforting answer. Hitoshi shifted and moved closer. Izuku leaned his head on Hitoshi’s shoulder.

“I’m so tired of running away from him.”

“Then don’t.” Hitoshi said, “Since Bakugou knows you’re dating Kirishima now, I doubt he’ll do anything dramatic. Even if he wants to.”

Izuku didn’t really like that idea either. He had a feeling that he wouldn’t be able to avoid Kacchan forever now that Eijirou was likely to know the history between them. And if Kacchan was going to be nice to Izuku (or, as nice as Kacchan could even be), he wanted it to be because it was the right thing to do. Not because he was dating Kacchan’s best friend.

Izuku became so lost in thought, he didn’t realize the phone ringing was his. He jerked out of Hitoshi’s hold and checked his screen. It was Eijirou. Izuku looked up at Hitoshi, silently apologizing before rushing to answer the call in the kitchen.

“Hello?”

“Hey, babe. Did you get home safe?”

Izuku’s blood ran cold. He forgot to text Eijirou yesterday.

“O-oh, yeah. Sorry I forgot to tell you, I was really tired when I got home.”

Eijirou laughed. “Yeah, I figured that happened. How’s Honeydew? Is she okay?”

Honey was currently on the couch with Hitoshi, being lavished with affection.

“She’s good, actually. She’s not mad at me for coming home late anymore.”

Ei laughed again. “Aw, that’s good to hear.”

The conversation lulled, settling into an awkward silence. Izuku could see Hitoshi watching him from the living room.

“So…” Eijirou said.

“Yeah?”

“I was wondering if I could ask you something.”

Izuku swallowed. “What is it?”

“This might sound weird, but did you go to Yuuei for high school?”

Oh. Izuku could already start to feel a heavy, leaden ball growing in his chest and weighing on his lungs.

“...Izuku? Can you hear me?”

“Yeah,” Izuku ran a hand through his hair, “and yes, I did go to Yuuei. Why?”

Izuku’s stomach clenched with anxiety. He readied himself for the worst- for disappointment, confusion, anger, even. For Eijirou to get mad at him for acting like they had never met before.

“I knew it!” Eijirou said, smile visible in his voice. Izuku waited for him to continue.

“I was flipping through my old yearbook a while ago and found your photo in it. Did you know we were even in the same year? Crazy, right?”

Izuku heard himself say, “Yeah, crazy.”

He started pacing in his kitchen to burn off his anxiety-fueled burst of energy.

“It’s weird, though, that I had no idea,” Eijirou said. “Also, did you know there’s like no place online that says you’re a Yuuei Alumnus?”

“Really?” Izuku asked with feigned surprise.

But he did know already. He knew because he made sure every easily accessible source of information said nothing about his high school experience. He removed the information from his own Miki page. He never answered fan questions regarding his childhood or school. Izuku never wanted anyone to know how close he got to becoming a hero, just for him to fail.

At this point, Hitoshi got off the couch. He stood at the edge of the kitchen and watched him. He gestured to Izuku, silently asking if he was okay. Izuku held out his hand. Hitoshi came over and let Izuku squeeze his hand like a stress ball.

“Yeah. It’s so weird. I bet if people knew you went to Yuuei you’d have lots more fans.”

Izuku laughed, high-pitched and nervous, because he didn’t know what else to do.

“Oh, I doubt that.”

Hitoshi could tell Izuku was getting worked up. He mouthed you okay? and Izuku shook his head. He squeezed Hitoshi’s hand harder.

“Uh, hey, Izuku?”

“Yes?”

“Are you okay? You sound weird.”

A tiny squeak escaped his throat. “I’m fine! I promise. I just need to- I’m just tired. I-”

There was a hand on Izuku’s shoulder, squeezing and keeping him grounded. Hitoshi had a hard look in his eyes as they shifted from Izuku to his phone.

Hang up.

Izuku shook his head. He didn’t want Eijirou to think something was wrong. He took a deep breath.

“Sorry, Eijirou. It’s just not a good time right now.”

“What’s wrong?” Eijirou asked so quickly, voice steeped in concern. Izuku wondered what he did to deserve such a man.

“I’m stressed, I guess. Ei, I’m so sorry but I just don’t want to talk about this right now.”

Izuku felt like such an asshole, basically telling Eijirou to fuck off after being so nice.

“Okay,” Eijirou said. His voice was softer than before.

“But if you ever want to talk, I’m here for you. Alright?”

Izuku nodded, even though Eijirou couldn’t see him.

“Alright. Thank you.”

“Of course. Bye, Izuku.”

“Bye…”

Then there was a pause, neither wanting to be the one to hang up. After another second, Eijirou ended the call. Izuku set his phone down on the counter and sighed. He let go of Hitoshi’s hand, surprised by how much his fingers ached. He looked down, breath catching in his throat at the sight of the deep red finger-sized imprints in Hitoshi’s hand.

“I’m so sorry!”

Hitoshi rubbed at his hand. Already, the red marks looked like they were starting to fade. “Don’t even worry about it.”

Hitoshi asked, “Are you okay now?”

“I don’t know.”

Izuku felt like a terrible boyfriend, and now he felt like an awful friend in general. They went back to the living room. Honeydew perked her head up and padded over to Izuku when he sat down on the couch. He hugged her to his chest.

Hitoshi asked, “I’m guessing you still don’t want to talk about it?”

Izuku shook his head. He felt like a little kid, needing literal hand-holding in order to confront his problems. But the two of them have known each other for almost ten years, and Izuku felt a little bit better knowing that Hitoshi didn’t think any less of him.

Izuku reached for the remote to turn on the TV. He flipped through a few channels before finding a movie to watch. It was already half-finished, but it was American with big CG explosions and required very little thinking. Izuku squirmed his way down the couch until he could lay down and prop his feet on Hitoshi’s legs. Hitoshi didn’t say anything, but he smiled. The two of them watched the movie in silence, but it made Izuku feel a little better.

That night, after Hitoshi left to go home, Izuku went back to the kitchen and picked up his phone. He felt so guilty for shutting down while he was talking to Eijirou, and he wanted to make it right.

Izuku: Hey, I’m sorry for getting worked up earlier.

Izuku: But if you want to talk more, I’d rather do it in person. I know it sounds dumb but I’d just feel better doing it that way.

Izuku turned off his phone before he could send Eijirou any more texts he might regret.


Eijirou’s phone buzzed twice right before he went to bed. He picked it up, finding two texts from Izuku. He read through them, biting his lip in surprise. This was a much bigger deal to Izuku than Eijirou thought it’d be. It also worried him, because Izuku sounded so scared over the phone. He was so tense and nervous, even as he swore he was fine. It left a sour taste in Eijirou’s mouth and this made it worse.

Eijirou: Of course, don’t worry about it. I’m swamped with work because I have to spend the week training some interns but next weekend I’m free

Eijirou: If there’s anything you want to talk about in the meantime, I’m here

He waited ten minutes for Izuku to respond. When he didn’t, Eijirou accepted that he might not get a reply right away. Instead, he went to bed hoping he could work out whatever had gotten Izuku so upset. But a part of him wouldn’t let him fall asleep so easily. It was like some piece of him was waiting to hear his phone buzz again. Another part of Eijirou blamed himself for his boyfriend’s behavior. He must’ve said something wrong to set Izuku off if even talking about Yuuei upset him so much.

Eventually, he must have fallen asleep because his eyes snapped open at the sound of his alarm going off at six thirty in the morning. Eijirou groaned. He grabbed his phone and turned off his alarm without opening his eyes. When he could stand looking at the sunlight filtering through his window, Eijirou sat up and checked his phone. There was one message from Izuku.

Izuku: Next weekend is fine, thank you Ei :)

Izuku sent the text to him at three in the morning. Was he busy making his next video, or could he not sleep?

Eijirou debated whether or not to respond, not wanting to bother Izuku so early in the morning (especially if he was awake until three am). From across the hall, Eijirou could hear Katsuki’s door open. A fist banged on his door.

“Ei, you up yet?”

“Yeah, I’m awake.”

Katsuki, satisfied, walked off. Eijirou ran a hand through his hair, pushing it away from his face. He knew he and Katsuki needed to get to the agency early to do some work before the interns arrived for the day. But he’d definitely try to text Izuku at the end of the day.

Eijirou went through the motions of his morning, showering, shaving, throwing on some clean clothes before making a quick protein shake for breakfast. On the way to work, Eijirou put the thoughts of his boyfriend aside and nudged Katsuki. “So you’re going to take all the interns today, right?”

“How many of them are there, again?”

“Three!”

Katsuki snorted. “I think I’ll pass.”

It was no secret that Katsuki was awful with teenagers (and children in general). It was why Eijirou handled most of the interns their agency took on.

Eijirou snickered. “All right, but you still have to go on patrol with us.”

Katsuki groaned. When they got to their agency, Eijirou finished up a few reports on his recent hero activity before getting changed into his costume. He found Katsuki in the building’s gym and joined him for a warm-up workout. By then, it was almost nine in the morning, and the interns were arriving. There was the telepath girl whose big eyes and insightful stare kind of reminded Eijirou of Froppy, plus two brothers with strength Quirks. They didn’t go to Yuuei, but Eijirou was always happy to help teach the next generation of heroes. He put his hands on his hips and smiled at them.

“You guys ready for another day of patrol?”

Eijirou got a chorus of enthusiastic Yes, Sir ’s. Besides him, Katsuki leaned against the wall and radiated only a mild desire to exist. Eijirou smirked knowingly and said, “You three are in for a real treat today, because Ground Zero is coming with us!”

Some of the interns’ enthusiasm died a bit, but Eijirou pretended not to notice. Katsuki pushed himself off the wall and stood next to Eijirou.

“Yup, you guys are lucky you get me and Red Riot.”

As Eijirou and Katsuki lead their little troop out onto the streets to start patrol, Eijirou leaned over and whispered, “Dude, behave today.”

Katsuki grunted, but didn’t respond. Eijirou frowned. Katsuki had been in a bad mood since yesterday, when Eijirou tried asking him about Izuku, but he hoped Katsuki would shake it off by now.

“I got a weird feeling today, Ei.”

“Like what?”

Katsuki could just be tense, but his gut has been right about villain attacks before.

“I’m gonna scope out the streets from the air.”

Eijirou didn’t stop Katsuki from propelling himself into the air and flying down the street. He turned left at the intersection and disappeared. Eijirou sighed before turning to the interns and putting on a big smile.

“Don’t worry about Ground Zero. He’s just trying to get a head start on us, but I won’t let him get away that easily!”

Eijirou broke into a jog, the three of his mini heroes following after him.


Izuku was usually too shy to do livestreams, but today he was treating his subscribers to the start of his Pokemon nuzlocke playthrough in place of a regular video. He played for over an hour already, and was just about to enter the first trial grounds in Pokemon Ultra Sun when he checked the chat. A few hundred people were watching, but the chat was purposely delayed.

AllRight121: aw, I’m late to the stream :(

Izuku smiled. “No worries, AllRight121, I plan on streaming for a little while longer.”

GangGangOrca: Hi Deku!

Endev-whore: I wish deku chose rowlet but at least with popplio he’ll have an advantage in this trial

SonicandTailman: Hey Deku, did u know Ground Zero and Red Riot r on the news right now??

Izuku did a double take on the chat.

“Red Riot’s in a fight? Hang on.”

Izuku paused his game and fiddled with his layout until he could pull up a livestream from a news website. The footage was being taken from the air, where a reporter was trying to speak over the wind and the thrum of helicopter blades.

She spoke into her mic. “As you can see, the fight is quickly escalating and I’ve just been informed that police have set up an immediate evacuation zone.”

Izuku set his 3DS down, fixated entirely on the live footage. The chat was blowing up, but he ignored it. The camera focused in on the ground, where the two heroes were fighting against a group of three villains. The trees lining the street were either on fire or knocked over. Cars were overturned and a general store nearby had a gaping hole in it’s front wall. The rubble around the store shifted before Red Riot- Eijirou - threw a slab of concrete off himself and ran back into the fray as if nothing had happened. A flash of blue caught Izuku’s eye and he spotted three more people in hero costumes, although they were crouching in the alley next to the store. Izuku cocked his head to the side before gasping.

“Those are interns!”

Teenagers too young to be proper heroes, the three students were as fixated on the fight as Izuku was. Thoughts of continuing his game abandoned, Izuku watched as Eijirou tackled the nearest villain. Ground Zero blasted another, launching him into the air and hitting a parked car. The villain didn’t get up, but there was still one more.

The last villain had a water Quirk and was using the stream from a broken fire hydrant to combat Ground Zero. Eijirou’s villain was probably telekinetic, heaving chunks of debris and even part of a car at him. The villain raised her hand and several massive shards of glass rose in the air. Izuku brought his hands to his mouth when Eijirou hardened just in time to keep himself from being ripped to shreds. Even from the distance of the helicopter, Izuku could see blood running down Eijirou’s face.

“Eijirou…” he said under his breath.

Ei couldn’t get close to his villain without stopping to defend himself or being thrown back. Ground Zero couldn’t help without risking being drowned by his own enemy.

Izuku was so fixated on his boyfriend, he didn’t notice the chat pointing out the intern stepping onto the street. Her blue costume caught Izuku’s eye again when the teenage girl raised her hand toward Eijirou’s villain. That got the villain to clutch her head and drop the debris she was lifting. Eijirou turned, yelled something to the intern, but that second of confusion was what the villain needed. She raised her arms in the air again, picking up two badly damaged vans, and threw both at Eijirou and the girl.

Izuku blinked, and the next moment Eijirou was on top of his intern in his Unbreakable form, bracing himself when the two cars smashed into him.

In the corner of Izuku’s eye, the chat exploded. He saw Red Riot too many times to count, but that wasn’t who Izuku saw. The man on the screen was Eijirou. Izuku’s boyfriend. Seconds past, but Eijirou had yet to reemerge from the wreckage. The villain threw several more cars onto of Eijirou until a blast of orange and red light blinded her. Ground Zero used a massive barrage of AP shots to end the fight. He and the two other interns ran to the wreckage where Eijirou and the girl were still buried under. The camera turned to the news reporter, but Izuku didn’t care to listen to her. He closed the window, looking at his camera.

“I-I’m going to end the stream early. I’m sorry, I just need to make a call. Thank you for joining me, those of you that did.”

He forgot to sign off with his usual goodbye. Izuku moved without thinking, ending the livestream, saving his game, and rushing to pick up his phone. An alert indicated the same news story Izuku was watching minutes ago.

Izuku found a variety of reports on the incident, some saying how police arrived on the scene to arrest the villains, but none of them said anything about Eijirou. One only mentioned how he was receiving medical care. Izuku started pacing around the apartment with no idea what to do. This wasn’t like whenever Hitoshi got hurt. His best friend always texted him to let him know he was fine.

So should Izuku call? If he did, Eijirou probably wouldn’t answer. Besides, if he did have his phone on him, why would he answer if he needed to go to a hospital? Should Izuku text him? It was the same as calling, but with even less chance of getting an answer. And Izuku couldn’t just wait around and do nothing.

He locked himself inside his bedroom even though there was no one else in the apartment (besides Honey) and called Eijirou. He waited and waited, almost jumping out of his skin when the dial tone was interrupted by Eijirou’s chipper voice.

“Hey!”

“Ei-”

“Sorry, I can’t answer my phone right now. I’m-”

Izuku whined, waiting until he could leave a message.

At last, he said, “Ei, I’m so sorry for bothering you but I saw your fight online. I know you’re probably busy but please let me know if you’re alright, okay? I love you.”

Izuku ended his voicemail before he even realized that he said he loved Eijirou. Which, granted, was true but Izuku had never said that to either of his prior boyfriends before. It was terrible and scary and he was kicking himself for saying it at the worst possible time.

But there wasn’t anything he could do about it now.


Eijirou was far more concerned with his interns’ safety than he was his own. He got the cut on his nose bandaged and his back was sore and bruised to hell from keeping that wreck off his intern for so long, but really, that was it. All three of his mini-heroes were safe, and Eijirou just needed to go to the nearest hospital for a cursory check-up more than anything. Honestly, it was terrifying at the time, but now? All Eijirou wanted was a shower and maybe something to eat.

He met Katsuki in the waiting room, his best friend grinning when he saw him.

“Took you long enough, Ei.”

“Sorry,” Eijirou said. He yawned, shaking his head to rid himself from his exhaustion.

Katsuki got up and follow Eijirou out of the reception area. He asked, “You know you’re getting the next few days off tomorrow, right?”

Eijirou blinked. “What?”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. Outside, a taxi (probably Katsuki’s doing) was already waiting to take them back to the agency.

“You’re back is all fucked up. The media will go crazy seeing you like that.”

“It’s just bruising.”

Katsuki snorted. “Small injuries can become big ones, Ei.”

Eijirou pouted, but he knew it was true. A year ago, a tiny scrape on his arm got infected from chasing a villain through the sewers. And even if he didn’t want to admit it, his entire back would probably end up being tender as fuck the next morning.

“I’ll take one day off.”

“You’re taking three.” Katsuki said.

“Two.”

“Ei.”

“You know I’m as much of a boss as you are, and I say I’m going to take two.”

Katsuki glared at him, but looked away. He folded his arms over his chest.

“Fine. Two. But you better be serious about resting, Ei. No working out, either.”

Eijirou grinned. “Not even a leg day?”

Katsuki punched his shoulder, but there was no heat in it. When they got back to their agency, Eijirou took a cold shower and threw on his civilian clothes. Stepping out of his private bathroom, Eijirou remembered to pick up his phone before leaving. He paused in his office doorway when he saw a voicemail from Izuku.

“Ei, I’m so sorry for bothering you but I saw your fight online. I know you’re probably busy, but please let me know if you’re alright, okay?-”

Oh, shit. It didn’t even occur to Eijirou that Izuku saw him getting injured.

“-I love you.”

Eijirou’s eyes widened. Oh, shit.

His heart fluttered in his chest, temporarily relieving the dull ache in his back. He immediately called Izuku. He picked up after the second ring.

“Eijirou? Are you okay?” Izuku’s voice sounded hesitant. But hearing his voice made Eijirou feel better.

“Hey, Izuku. I’m so sorry I didn’t call earlier. But I’m fine, don’t worry.”

He heard a nervous laugh, and it was killing Eijirou to hear how worried Izuku was over him.

“You had multiple cars dropped on your head, Ei. Are you sure?”

Eijirou almost smiled. “Believe it or not, I’ve been through worse. I’m a little roughed up now, but Katsuki’s making me take a few days off to recover.”

“That’s… that’s good.” Izuku said, “Do you want me to come over for a day or two? I could help you at home, if you need time to relax.”

Eijirou remembered the way Izuku ran from Katsuki when they first saw each other. He didn’t think Izuku was trying to pretend it didn’t happen, but he wondered what on Earth he did to deserve such a devoted boyfriend.

“Actually, yeah, since I have a few days off, I’d love to see you again. But what about me going to your place?”

Until he sorted out the history Izuku and Katsuki had, he’d rather keep them separated. But he couldn’t tell if the way Izuku’s breath hitched was a good thing.

“You’re injured! I don’t want you travelling.”

Eijirou smiled and leaned his shoulder against the wall.

“I promise, Izuku, it really isn’t as bad as the media will make it seem. I’m well enough to travel, but my agency just doesn’t want me on the streets for a few days.”

There was a moment’s pause.

“Alright, if you feel like you can come over then I guess I can’t stop you. Will you come over tonight or tomorrow?”

Eijirou was already tired, and he’d probably fall asleep on the train.

“How about I get on the first train to Musutafu tomorrow morning?”

“I’ll meet you at the station.” Izuku said without hesitation.

“And you know Ei, you’ll finally be able to meet Honeydew for the first time.”

Oh, he didn’t even think of Honey. Eijirou smiled. “You better let her know I’m coming over, then. I’d hate to surprise her.”

Izuku laughed. “Okay, I’ll let her know. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Perfect, and Izuku?”

“Yes?”

“I love you, too.”


Izuku tapped his foot on the tiled floor, waiting for Eijirou’s train to arrive. He thumbed through his phone in part to appear casual, but to also be ready to respond to Eijirou at a moment’s notice. Izuku jumped from Chirper to his text messages and back again, even though he could tell he was starting to work himself up over this.

Eijirou’s voice echoed in his head. I love you, too.

How was Izuku supposed to respond to that?

Those words played in his head on repeat throughout the entire night, but maybe the sleep deprivation was what was making Izuku twitchy. Instead of laying in bed, he spent hours cleaning. He even left at the crack of dawn to go grocery shopping (although a lot of the food he bought was meat for Eijirou). And it took about an hour of pleading and reaching out to all his coworkers, but Izuku got one of them to swap shifts at the Spilled Ink with him so he could stay at home with Eijirou today.

Thankfully, (or maybe unfortunately) the train carrying his boyfriend finally arrived at the station. Izuku pocketed his phone, heart beating faster as the doors slid open. The typical crowd filtered out and among the last to leave was a behemoth of a man carrying a duffle bag on his shoulder. His jacket’s hood was pulled over his red hair, and his eyes were hidden by sunglasses. Eijirou turned his head from side to side, searching for Izuku.

Izuku waved to him and smiled. Eijirou spotted him and made his way through the crowd. Izuku’s heart fluttered at the sight of his boyfriend, but his smile also faded. Eijirou had a bandage taped over his nose bridge and scrapes on his chin. He leaned slightly to one side from the weight of his duffle bag, as if he couldn’t be bothered righting himself.

“Eijirou?”

Eijirou stopped in front of him. He smiled bashfully.

“Hey, babe.”

Izuku cried so easily, and he hated how his eyes started to grow wet. He blinked away his tentative tears.

“I’m sure you’re tired, let’s go home.”

Eijirou’s smiled faded. “Right.”

Izuku guided Eijirou out of the station and the two of them started their short walk to Izuku’s apartment.

“Do you want me to take your bag?” Izuku asked.

The duffle bag didn’t look very heavy, which worried him even more. Eijirou shifted the bag so the straps rested higher on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry, I can handle it.”

Izuku and Eijirou walked the rest of the way home in silence, although it didn’t feel as strained as Izuku was afraid it’d be. He wasn’t even nervous about showing Eijirou his apartment for the first time. Although, he did hope Eijirou didn’t think too unkindly of him for living in such a small apartment. There’d be plenty of space for them both (plus Honeydew), but it was nothing in comparison to Eijirou’s penthouse.

Izuku snapped himself from his thoughts when he set foot inside his apartment building. They took the elevator up to the fifth floor and it felt like only a second later that Izuku was fitting his key inside the lock. He paused, a thought crossing his mind. He rubbed the back of his neck.

“I should warn you. Honeydew doesn’t really like strangers, especially men, but I don’t think she’ll give you much trouble.”

Eijirou laughed. “Alright, thanks for the heads-up.”

Izuku smiled, then he opened the door. From the couch, Honeydew’s head perked up. She jumped off and raced to the front door, only to skid to a stop and start growling at Eijirou. She let out a warning bark as they took off their shoes.

“Honey, you better be nice to Eijirou. He’s going to be staying with us for a few days.”

Honeydew ignored Izuku. She darted forward, wedging herself between them and started tugging at Eijirou’s socks.

Despite her blatantly hostile attitude, Eijirou smiled. “Awww, hi Honeydew. I’ve heard so much about you.”

He reached down to pet her, except that it spooked her and sent Honeydew scampering back to the couch. Izuku laughed at how crestfallen Eijirou looked. After that, it was surprisingly easy to get Eijirou settled in. Izuku’s apartment had a small guest room and Eijirou didn’t have much to unpack to begin with.

Then, it was just Izuku and his boyfriend for two whole days. The thought left him as nervous as he was giddy, as Izuku enjoyed living with others. His last roommate was Hitoshi, back when he was living off-campus in his last two years of college, and they shared an apartment together. Eijirou was different, though. Whereas Hitoshi was his best friend, Eijirou was something entirely new.

Izuku asked, “Did you have anything for breakfast? Can I make you something to eat?”

Eijirou was laying on his stomach on the floor, trying to coax Honeydew to sit with him (which Izuku knew she wouldn’t). Eijirou looked up and gingerly pushed himself into a sitting position.

“Sure, I’ll eat anything.”

So Izuku made some nice, comforting katsudon the way his mother did. Eijirou pushed himself off the floor and eased into a seat at the kitchen counter.

“You want me to help?”

Izuku shook his head. “I told you I’d take care of you, Ei. I just want you to relax.”

Although, it was a little nerve-wracking having Eijirou watch him cook. More than once, Izuku turned around to see Eijirou staring intently at him. The third time it happened, Izuku was getting a little frazzled.

“Ei, are you okay? Do you want to lie down?”

Eijirou shook his head. The corner of his mouth twitched. “You just look really cute today.”

Izuku flushed from his ears to his neck and quickly averted his eyes. He didn’t know what about him at the moment made him look cute. If anything, Izuku thought that sweatpants and an oversized hoodie was a rather messy look. When he finished making katsudon, Izuku sat with Eijirou at the kitchen counter. Eijirou took one bite, made a little mm sound, and immediately began inhaling his pork cutlet.

“Ei?”

“This is really good,” he said, one cheek stuffed with food. The sight of his chiseled jawline and his ridiculous smile made Izuku snort. He covered his own face, trying not to laugh.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

By the time Izuku ate most of his food, Eijirou had cleaned his bowl and was helping himself to a second serving of rice. Although, Izuku noticed how Eijirou kept rolling his right shoulder. When they finished eating and the bowls sat in the sink, Eijirou asked, “Do you mind helping me with something?”

“What is it?”

Eijirou smiled sheepishly. “I have some salve for my back, but I can’t really reach the middle area. Could you..?”

Izuku smiled. “Of course.”

Eijirou sighed in relief and went to his room. He came back with a small tub of cream and absolutely no shirt whatsoever. He sat back down in the kitchen and Izuku moved behind him. His breath hitched in his throat.

“Oh, Ei.”

Eijirou’s entire back was a collage of dark blue bruises and reddish welts.

“Doesn’t this hurt?”

Eijirou shrugged, even though the movement was stiff and minute.

“Like I said, I’ve been through worse.”

That didn’t bode well with Izuku, but he took the jar of cream from Eijirou and gingerly started applying it to his back. Despite himself, Eijirou laughed softly.

“You can press a little harder than that.”

“I don’t want to hurt you.”

Nevertheless, Izuku applied just a little more pressure, only to help rub the cream into Eijirou’s skin. But the longer he stared, the more painful it looked. There were new and old scars in between the bruises too, some faint white lines while others were dark red strips. A hundred different stories, all on Eijirou’s skin.

When Izuku finished, he leaned over Eijirou’s shoulder and pressed a kiss to his cheek. He noticed the way Eijirou inhaled when he did.

“There, all done.”

Eijirou turned his head, and pressed his lips to Izuku’s.

“Thanks, babe.”


The rest of the day passed by in a blur. An idyllic, dream-like blur. Eijirou had to walk around shirtless after Izuku applied his salve, which was both a blessing and a curse. Honeydew had also taken to being wherever Eijirou wasn’t, although she did come when called when it came time to feed her. But for the most part, it was much quieter than Izuku expected.

Since Ei couldn’t really do anything or rest on his back, they laid down on the bed in the guest bedroom and marathoned action movies on Izuku’s laptop. At one point, Izuku had to let Honeydew into the room because she was crying in the hallway for him. She laid down on a pillow at the foot of the bed, just within Eijirou’s reach. He shifted his weight so he could lean over her. He stroked Honey with a single finger, flashing Izuku a smile when she let him touch her.

Later, Eijirou, saying he was tired, said he wanted to shower and go to bed early. He emerged from the bathroom shirtless again so Izuku could reapply his salve. Then Izuku helped Eijirou into a loose-fitting shirt for bed. Eijirou kissed Izuku goodnight before heading for the guest room.

Izuku stayed up a while longer, drafting the script for his next video in his own room. At one in the morning, Izuku heard Eijirou’s door open. He paused, listening to Ei walk past Izuku’s room and down the hallway. When Izuku didn’t hear the bathroom door open, he got out of his chair and poked his head into the hall.

The light in the kitchen was on. Izuku frowned and padded down the hallway. He poked his head around the corner and saw Eijirou in the kitchen chugging a glass of water.

“Ei? Are you okay?”

Eijirou almost dropped the cup. He wiped his mouth and smiled at Izuku, although he could see the shadows beginning to form under Ei’s eyes.

“I’m fine, just couldn’t sleep.”

A pause. “Why are you still up? Did I wake you?”

Izuku shook his head. “I’m usually still awake around this time. I was planning on going to bed soon, but if you can’t sleep… would you want to sleep in my room? With me?”

Eijirou set the cup down in the sink. He smiled.

“If you’ll let me.”

Izuku laughed. “I think it’s more a matter of Honey letting you, but I told her to be nice.”

Izuku guided Eijirou to his bedroom, where Honey was thankfully already asleep. Eijirou climbed onto the bed without waking her, and Izuku rolled onto the other side. It was too dark to really see his face, but Izuku could see the moonlight from the window reflecting in Eijirou’s bright red eyes.

“Goodnight, Eijirou.”

“Goodnight, Izuku.”


In the morning, Eijirou nearly melted beneath Izuku’s gentle touch on his aching back. He sighed, eyes closing as Izuku rubbed the salve into his tired muscles with just a tiny bit more force than before. It hurt, yes, but beneath it was a satisfying release of tension. When Izuku was finished, he washed his hands in the kitchen sink.

“I have to take Honeydew on her morning walk, will you be fine on your own again?”

Eijirou nodded. He learned from yesterday that Honeydew didn’t really need very long walks to begin with. Still, he itched to go with them. To stretch his legs just a little more than what he’d been doing in the past twenty-four hours. But he knew he’d be calling unnecessary attention to himself, and to Izuku, if he went, so he stayed behind as his boyfriend left. But without them, the apartment felt so lonely. It was also weird for Eijirou to be in Izuku’s living space without him.

Eijirou wandered around the apartment, looking at the pictures and posters hanging on the walls more closely than he did the day before. Most of the living room was decorated in heroes posters. Some were recent like Uravity, some were older, like a vintage Eraserhead print, and some were clearly at least a decade old. One All Might Poster hanging by the window was faded, wrinkled, and worn at the edges. Eijirou noted with amusement that there wasn’t any memorabilia of himself, which honestly? He kind of appreciated. He’d rather Izuku treasure him for being himself, rather than his hero costume.

He wandered down to Izuku’s room, and he only peeked inside because the door was ajar. But then, his curiosity got the better of him. Izuku’s bed was pressed against the far wall, which Eijirou knew from last night. But his desk and computer monitors took up most of the remaining space in the room. Eijirou walked over to the desk, realizing that this was where Izuku and he facetimed or Skyped when they first met. It was also where most of his videos were filmed, apparently. 

He  touched the keyboard, hand jerking back when the center monitor blinked to life. Eijirou had no intention of snooping, but the screensaver of Izuku and Shinsou caught his attention. They both looked so young, maybe as early as their second year of high school. Izuku was in his school uniform, but Shinsou was wearing his first prototype hero costume, the black body suit that Eijirou remembered his classmates teasing him for. It looked so much like Aizawa’s costume, but that daunting headgear was Shinsou’s own. Mindful of his back, Eijirou carefully leaned closer to the screen. Shinsou had one arm wrapped around Izuku’s shoulders while the other tugged on his capturing weapon. They were both smiling.

Eijirou also recognized the courtyard they were in. This photo was taken at Yuuei, and Eijirou spotted a small, reddish blur in the background. He squinted. Partially obscured by a tree was a figure with bright red hair and black pants. Eijirou ran a hand through his hair, not daring to believe his eyes.

Could he have really just walked past Izuku in high school and never noticed?

He remembered Shinsou having friends outside of the hero classes, but it felt so much more real to see it for himself. And it reminded Eijirou of what he wanted to ask Izuku about only a few days ago. It felt like such a long time had passed since trying to ask Izuku about his history in Yuuei, but now, he was dying to know.


Izuku could tell something was off when he got back home. Eijirou wasn’t in sight to say hello, and the apartment was quiet.

“Eijirou?”

He toed off his shoes and hung up Honeydew’s leash by the door. He heard footsteps, and Eijirou emerged from down the hall.

“Hey, Izuku. How was your walk?”

“It went well. We stopped so a few kids could pet Honeydew.”

“Aw.” Eijirou stepped a bit closer, but Honey growled at him. He took a step back, hands held up in surrender. He ran a hand through his hair.

“Right, so uh, Izuku. I was wondering if we could talk.”

Izuku frowned as he pulled off his jacket.

“About what?”

“About before, when we were talking about Yuuei?”

An icy cold shock went through Izuku. Oh.

“Okay.”

Izuku took in a breath. He could do this. He was an adult, he could talk about adult things. Unfortunately, that meant confronting his problems like an adult too. And that’s how he found himself sitting at the kitchen counter, cup of coffee in front of him before he took a deep breath. “What do you want to know?”

Eijirou shrugged. “I don’t know, I guess it’s weird that no one knows you went to Yuuei.”

Izuku found himself smiling, eyes glued to his coffee mug.

“Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal to me. I’d rather not have people know.”

“What do you mean?” Eijirou asked, as if he couldn’t fathom the answer.

Izuku shrugged. A picture-perfect memory of All Might standing in front of him surfaced in his mind after years of trying to stuff it down.

Izuku asked, “You know how most kids really want to be heroes when they grow up?”

He saw Eijirou nod from the corner of his eye. His fingers started tapping on his mug, chiming out a nervous rhythm.

“I was like that. When I was a kid, I wanted more than anything to be a hero. I studied them, took notes too. I even filled entire notebooks with observations I made on heroes in the hopes I’d be one too.”

Izuku laughed humorlessly. He was so serious about being a hero as a kid, it was embarrassing looking back on it now.

He continued, “But you want to know something? You know why I’ve never brought up my Quirk before?”

Izuku looked up, seeing the saw Eijirou’s eyes narrowed in confusion.

“Why?”

Izuku smiled at him, because something deep down in him told him to keep smiling no matter what. “It’s because I don’t have one.”

All Might’s deep, resounding voice echoed in Izuku’s mind.

Without a Quirk, you can’t be a hero.

Eijirou blinked. His mouth opened and closed, silent until he could formulate words.

The first thing he said was, “But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be a hero!”

Izuku shook his head. A lifetime of experiences could prove Eijirou wrong. He went back to looking at his coffee cup.

“I don’t like talking about it because, honestly, I did everything right. I went to Yuuei. I studied hard. I got good grades, and once or twice, I even did well in the Sports Festivals.”

Izuku sipped his coffee, not feeling the heat or even tasting the milk and sugar he added.

“Ei, I did everything I could, but the world was stacked against me. In the end, I wasn’t good enough. It’s why I made my YouTube channel to begin with. It’s the closest I could get to becoming a hero.”

Izuku blinked and his world was reduced to a blur of colors. Great, he was already starting to cry. He kept his eyes on his cup, refusing to let Eijirou see the tears welling up in his eyes. He swallowed, trying so hard to keep his voice even. “There’s no information about Yuuei on my Miki page because I got rid of it.”

No one remembered the plain-faced boy from high school anyways, and that was exactly how Izuku wanted it to be.

He thought this would be the end of it, but Eijirou asked, “Why? Izuku, do you even realize how smart you are? You could have been an amazing support hero, or even-”

“Eijirou.”

Izuku’s voice cracked. He took a deep breath, feeling his pulse quicken beneath his skin. “You think I didn’t apply for internships? I tried. I tried everything, but no one wanted a scrawny, Quirkless kid. I didn’t have any sort of power to protect myself, and I would have been a liability to any agency who thought about taking me in.”

In the end, Izuku was just never good enough for anyone. He flinched when two arms tried wrapping around him. Eijirou immediately let go. Instead, he took one of Izuku’s hands away from his coffee mug and squeezed.

“I’m sorry for pushing you, it was so unmanly of me.”

Despite the tears now trickling down his face, Izuku laughed. He wiped his face on his sleeve.

“It’s not your fault, Ei. I wasn’t being honest with you before.”

He still wasn’t. He still hid so much from Eijirou. His history of depression, his anxiety. His relationship with Kacchan.

“I’m still not.”

“What do you mean?”

“I knew we went to school together even before we met. I didn’t want to tell you I knew because I didn’t want you to be ashamed of me.”

Izuku could feel himself shaking from the effort of keeping what little dignity he still had. He tried tugging his hand away from Eijirou, but he refused to let go. Izuku felt a hand touch his shoulder. He said nothing as Eijirou brushed the hair from his eyes.

“I’d never be ashamed of you.”

Izuku dared to look up. Eijirou was staring at him, his face unreadable. He took Izuku’s hands in his own.

“You’re amazing.”

Don’t. Izuku wanted to say.

“It’s so manly that you built a new life for yourself. And you’re so brave for doing it after all your awful experiences.”

Stop.

“And I get how hard it is to become a hero.”

The corners of Eijirou’s mouth raised into a half-smile. “I wasn’t always a good hero, or even a brave person. I hesitated sometimes, because I was afraid. And sometimes people got hurt because of it. But I had lots of people who I could look up to. Crimson Riot, Pinky…you.”

Izuku made a sound, high-pitched and surprised.

“Don’t say that.” He said.

Please don’t give me this sort of hope if it’s a lie. Don’t hurt me like this.

“Why not?” Eijirou asked. “You’re my hero.”

A wet sob wrenched itself from Izuku’s throat. Warm, fat tears started pouring down his face.

“Please,” he begged, “don’t say that if you don’t mean it.”

Eijirou leaned in close. He cupped Izuku’s face and brushed away a tear with his thumb.

“I mean it, Izuku. You’re my hero.”

Izuku closed his eyes as he started crying even harder. He felt Eijirou’s arms wrap around him again, but this time, he didn’t try to stop him. He clung to Eijirou, holding onto his shirt and sobbing into his chest. Eijirou ran his hand through Izuku’s hair, shushing him and pressing kisses to his cheek and forehead.

“Thank you,” Izuku said, voice muffled from hiding his face. “Thank you, thank you…”

“Of course, babe.” Eijirou said. “You’re amazing. Don’t ever think otherwise.”

Izuku couldn’t force any words out by this point. He felt like he was drowning in emotions, overwhelmed by his relief, his fear, his pain, his joy. He couldn’t get the words out past the sobs wracking his body, but Izuku thought, I love you so much.

Chapter Text

Since watching Midoriya Deku’s videos on both his father and himself, Shoto had become a regular watcher. He clicked on, or at least saved for later, every video Deku put out. It didn’t matter if they were hero analysis, or his more frequent, casual “Me Time”, videos. Shoto enjoyed them all. He would even consider himself a loyal fan at this point.

Also because of Deku, Shoto had been learning how to use his fire in secret. In the privacy of his agency’s training facilities, he’s been letting loose with the power he refused to use for his entire life. He wouldn’t use such an ill-controlled Quirk in public, however. Not yet. Not until he was sure he could control his fire.

So, it was suffice to say a nerdy Youtuber of all people was changing Shoto’s life for the better.

He was also quite happy when one of his very rare days off aligned with Deku’s livestream. From what he could tell, live videos were few and far between, but this only excited him more. Deku was playing a Pokemon game that came out a few years ago, although Shoto wasn’t very familiar with it. He never had video games, even a DS, when growing up, and never felt the desire to play them as he grew older. But watching Deku form a bond with a little seal-like Pokemon and battling others was… cute. Fun. It kind of made Shoto want to buy a 3DS to try the game out himself.

Shoto watched as Deku traversed this tropical Pokemon world for about an hour. He refrained from joining the chat, but watched as Deku addressed various commenters while playing.

GangGangOrca: Hi Deku!

Endev-whore: I wish deku chose rowlet but at least with popplio he’ll have an advantage in this trial

Shoto snorted, more amused by this person’s username than their comment.

SonicandTailman: Hey Deku, did u know Ground Zero and Red Riot r on the news right now??

Shoto raised a brow at that comment. Maybe he’d check the news later and see what his former classmates were up to. Shoto expected Deku to return to his game, but instead, he said, “Red Riot’s in a fight? Hang on.”

Deku pulled up a livestream from a random media outlet, where a news reporter was commentating on the fight. Shoto wasn’t surprised to see that Bakugou and Kirishima still worked together. They were a well-oiled machine, even as the villains they fought managed to seperate them. But Shoto was more interested in watching Deku’s reaction.

He raised a brow at how intently Deku was watching. He thought it made sense, Deku was a hero-themed Youtuber, after all. But when Kirishima narrowly avoided being skewered to death by flying shards of glass, Deku gasped.

“Eijirou…”

Shoto cocked his head to the side. Deku’s voice was barely a whispered, drowned out by the newsfeed, but Shoto recognized Kirishima’s given name. His confusion intensified when Kirishima got buried beneath a wreck of cars to save an intern and Deku jerked in his seat. He turned his attention back to his camera, but his eyes kept darting towards the newsfeed.

“I-I’m going to end the stream early. I’m sorry, I just need to make a call. Thank you for joining me, those of you that did.”

His voice sounded so soft, so small, but rushed. Nervous. Afraid.

The next moment, Shoto was staring at a blank screen. It was almost like whiplash, how quickly the stream ended. Shoto closed his laptop screen, more confused than ever. From the way Deku behaved, it was like he personally knew Kirishima. And for all Shoto knew, maybe he did. As a prominent hero Youtuber, maybe they met before. But it still left a growing sense of discontentment in Shoto’s chest, almost like the fluttering feeling of anxiety. Shoto himself knew Kirishima would be fine, he’d endured much worse and walked away just without much trouble. But it seemed like he was even further out of the loop with his former classmates than he thought, if he didn’t know that Deku and Kirishima were friends. And it was… disappointing, to say the least.

For most of Shoto’s career as a hero, he only wanted to be the number one hero. It was too reminiscent of his father’s life path, but only now was Shoto really beginning to feel how alone he was. Maybe keeping in contact with others wouldn’t be as tedious as he originally thought.

Shoto reached for his phone. He thumbed through his sparse list of text messages before finding the one classmate he still kept in contact with.

Shoto: Hi, Momo.

Shoto: I know we haven’t talked lately, but how have you been?

Momo didn’t respond right away, probably busy with work, but Shoto felt a little bit better when he put down his phone. Deku was still teaching him how to improve his life, but now in more ways than one. And maybe letting people into his life wouldn’t be so bad.

That night, Shoto got a response from Momo.

Yaomomo: Hi Shoto! Don’t worry about not talking, I know you’re usually really busy. Kyoka also wants me to tell you hi! :)

Yaomomo: We should meet up sometime and chat, if you can.

Shoto found himself smiling.

Shoto: Thanks, tell Jirou I said hello too. I wouldn’t mind meeting for dinner if you want, it sounds like fun.

Shoto thought it was ironic that Deku, a complete stranger, was encouraging him to reach out to others.


After spilling his heart out to his boyfriend, Izuku was scared that telling Eijirou about his attempts to become a hero would make things awkward. He was especially scared that Eijirou would realize how fragile he actually was, and decide that Izuku wasn’t worth dealing with. It happened before, with potential friends and former significant others, and Izuku was terrified it’d happen again. But Eijirou’s words continued to ring in Izuku’s head whenever he started to worry over himself.

“I mean it, Izuku. You’re my hero.”

Just the memory of those words could warm Izuku’s heart. And Eijirou himself hardly seemed shaken by Izuku’s breakdown. When he had to return to work after spending a few days together, he showered Izuku with goodbye kisses. At the train station, before Eijirou left to return to Tokyo, he said, “I’ll let you know when I get back home.”

He leaned down and added, “And Izuku, please don’t ever forget how amazing you are.”

Izuku’s breath hitched in his throat. He stood there, frozen, as Eijirou left to board his train. Izuku still stood in place until the train had departed and he was truly all alone.

Eventually, he remembered he had a home to go back to himself. As Izuku walked back from the train station, his steps felt lighter and lighter. By the time he got home, Izuku couldn’t resist the giddy feeling igniting in his chest. He scooped Honeydew into his arms and spun around with her. Eijirou already made him cry tears of relief once, but Izuku felt like he could do it again. Never ever had anyone learned of Izuku’s past and reacted as well as Eijirou (except for Hitoshi, of course).

When Izuku set Honeydew down, slowly coming off his high, he began to settle back into the routine he had before Eijirou lived with him. He made lunch for himself, and just himself, but found that his apartment was too quiet now. He liked Eijirou’s heavy footsteps and the sound of his voice. They were both such assuring constants in the past few days, reminding Izuku of how nice it was to not live alone. After lunch, Izuku sat down at his desk and began editing the script for his next video with Honeydew curled around his feet.

Half an hour or so later, Izuku got a text from Eijirou that he got home safe and sound. But he was surprised by the next few texts his boyfriend sent.

Eijirou: I actually really enjoyed the past few days. Despite, u know, my injuries. I’d love to come over whenever you want me to

Eijirou: As long as I can convince my agency that leaving the city won’t be a big deal lol  

Izuku could feel his heart flutter in his chest, not even pausing to think it over before responding.

Izuku: Absolutely! I’d love to see you again soon :)

A partner like Eijirou was almost too good to be true.


November passed by in a blur, but Izuku grew well accustomed to being in a (sort of) long distance relationship. And even with the slight distance between him and Eijirou, he couldn’t be happier. For the most part, his life didn’t change much; Izuku still worked on videos and went to work part time at the Spilled Ink. But he and Eijirou spoke almost daily, either through text or by calling. Throughout the month, Eijirou visited a few times so they could have dinner together. And although Izuku offered more than once to go to Tokyo for him, Eijirou always insisted it was better for him to do the travelling. Izuku suspected there was a motive behind Eijirou’s insistence, but after two dinner dates, he gave up trying. Eijirou was apparently dead set on being the one doing moving from city to city.

And that small issue soon faded to the back of Izuku’s mind. It snowed for the first time late in the month, and Ei made his first public appearance in his new winter costume. The sleeves were thicker than his usual costume, and he wore a thermal mesh top specially designed to withstand both the cold and his Quirk. It was semi-transparent and still left nothing to the imagination, but Izuku took joy in knowing what those covered abs looked like up close and personal.

Also on that same day, Izuku sent Ei a video of Honeydew hopping through mounds of snow. Eijirou loved it, gushed for five minutes about how adorable she was and how much he wanted to see her again.

Later, at the very beginning of December, Eijirou asked if he could spend the weekend with Izuku.

“I don’t mind, but why do you want to stay over? Did you get hurt again?”

Eijirou shook his head. He was facetiming Izuku in the middle of the night, although he claimed he wasn’t tired.

“I just feel like getting out of the house, I guess.”

Izuku laughed. “Ei, your job is literally to walk around and punch people all day.”

Eijirou snorted, but his smile wasn’t nearly as wide as Izuku expected. Eijirou seemed… distracted. He held his phone in front of him but kept glancing off to the side, or ran his hands through his hair.

“Ei? Are you okay?”

Eijirou blinked and focused back on Izuku. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry, I’m just tired. I’m kind of in a rough spot with K- my roommate right now.”

Izuku didn’t miss how Eijirou almost said Katsuki. And not for the first time, Izuku worried if him dating Ei was interfering in his boyfriend’s relationship with Kacchan. Eijirou and Kacchan, no matter how much Izuku didn’t want to think about it, were probably extremely close if they worked and lived together. Things must’ve been strained if Eijirou didn’t even want to say Katsuki’s name. Or maybe, he was just avoiding saying it for Izuku’s sake.

Even though he was kind of afraid of the answer, Izuku asked, “Do you want to talk about it?”

Eijirou shrugged. “Not really. It’s not a big deal, I promise.”

A pause.

“So I can come over?”

“Of course, Ei. I’ll see you on Saturday.”

Eijirou smiled for the first time in the entire conversation. He blew a small kiss at the screen.

“Goodnight, babe.”

“Goodnight!”


When Izuku hung up, Eijirou let his toothy grin drop. He sighed, exhausted. He truly was happy that Izuku would let him visit again, but he barely had the energy to muster up a smile. Things hadn’t been this tense between him and Katsuki for a long while, not since they realized exactly how difficult it’d be starting their own hero agency.

When Eijirou left his room, he closed his door as quietly as possible. Katsuki was usually in bed by now, and Eijirou was in no mood to risk waking him up. He thought about grabbing a guilty-pleasure late night snack from the kitchen, only to freeze in place. Most of the lights in the penthouse were off, except a few in the kitchen. Katsuki was sitting at the kitchen table, half-empty beer bottle in hand. His other hand was propping up his head, and he was staring intently at his tablet screen. Katsuki looked up and noticed Eijirou before he could silently backtrack. He pulled out one of his earbuds.

“Hey,” he said. As if they weren’t arguing earlier that day.

“Hey.” Eijirou replied. If Katsuki was done with this, then he’d be happy to drop the subject too.

He went over to the fridge, finding a low-fat, strawberry yogurt cup calling his name. Eijirou stood at the kitchen counter, quietly eating. But he couldn’t help but glance over at Katsuki every few seconds. His roommate seemed enraptured by his tablet, brows furrowed in concentration. The beer bottle especially worried him. Katsuki would never drink if he had to work the next day, not unless he was particularly upset about something. Eijirou felt like he needed to know if his best friend was alright, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask outright.

Instead, he asked, “What are you watching?”

He couldn’t force himself to make his voice louder than a whisper. The tender peace between them felt like it’d break if he raised his voice.

Katsuki looked up. He stared at Eijirou for a moment.

“It’s one of Deku’s videos… The one where he makes an Ingenium cosplay out of random shit in his house.”

Eijirou remembered when that video first came out. It was only a few months ago, but it felt like years.

A spiteful part of Eijirou made him ask, “I thought you didn’t like Deku’s videos.”

Katsuki said nothing for a moment, maybe trying to figure out if Eijirou was still mad at him. Or if he should still be mad at Eijirou.

“I’m giving them a try.”

Katsuki’s eyes flickered down to his screen. His lips moved, but Eijirou couldn’t exactly hear what he said.

“What was that?”

Katsuki looked up. “He’s so different from when we were in high school. It’s like…”

Katsuki exhaled through his nose, unsure what to say. He gestured vaguely towards his tablet.

“He’s so much happier. Even when he’s struggling to fucking make a halfway decent cosplay, he smiles so much more than I remember. He makes jokes and has a fucking dog now.”

Eijirou didn’t like how all of this sounded like news to Katsuki. Izuku smiled so often around him. Even with all the struggles he went through in his life, Eijirou could say that Izuku was a generally happy person. But he wasn’t happy at all while in high school, and now more than ever, Eijirou suspected that Katsuki was a huge reason why.

He learned from Izuku that he used to feel worthless because he was Quirkless. And Katsuki claimed the two of them “stopped being close” as they grew up. And, most concerning of all, Eijirou knew exactly how aggressive Katsuki used to be. Every clue warned Eijirou that Katsuki probably bullied Izuku for most of their lives. Maybe even did worse. Maybe his best friend left Izuku with the mental scars he was still trying to heal from.

Even the fact that Katsuki didn’t know Izuku had Honeydew, his pet of at least a few years, was worrisome. He cared so little for Izuku all this time, and was only now showing interest in him again.

Katsuki took a swig from his beer bottle, emptying most of what remained in a few gulps. He ran his hand through his hair and set the bottle back on the table. The dull clunk echoed across the kitchen.

“Ei, I really don’t want to tiptoe around this anymore. Please give me his number. I just want to talk to him.”

“Katsuki…”

Eijirou felt a pang of guilt in his chest. The Katsuki from their first year in high school would never say no to a fight, and he’d never say please. But Eijirou remembered exactly how Izuku reacted to unexpectedly seeing Katsuki after their second date; he fucking ran from their penthouse like his life depended on it. And Eijirou didn’t want to expose Izuku to Katsuki so soon after his boyfriend felt comfortable enough to discuss his past trauma.

But while Katsuki might’ve grown more mature, his patience didn’t grow as much. For a few weeks now, he wanted Eijirou to give him Izuku’s phone number, or some way to directly contact him. (He refused to contact Izuku through social media, maybe afraid he’d get immediately blocked.) Eijirou instead gave him a plethora of generic excuses as to why he kept refusing. It’s not his place to do so. He should ask Izuku for permission first. He’ll get back to Katsuki later. Later. Later. Later…

But Katsuki finally grew tired of it. Earlier in the day, they fought. Had their first real argument in years. Katsuki wanted to know why Eijirou would go to Musutafu to live with his boyfriend, while he was injured, rather than stay home. Katsuki had way more experience taking care of Eijirou when he was hurt, didn’t he? And why couldn’t Izuku come to them? Why was Eijirou intentionally keeping him and Katsuki apart?

Katsuki said, “Ei, I swear. I won’t do anything to him, I just want to talk.”

A hot flash of anger hit Eijirou. He cocked his head to the side and approached the kitchen table, midnight snack forgotten.

“What do you mean you ‘ won’t do anything to him’?”

Katsuki’s mouth clamped shut. He looked so unsure of himself, so unlike his usual confident demeanor. Eijirou waited, but Katsuki said nothing. Either didn’t want to, or couldn’t bring himself to admit what he had done to Izuku. But a part of Eijirou still wanted to give Katsuki the benefit of the doubt, and decided that his best friend just wasn’t ready to talk yet.

He sighed, turning away from Katsuki.

“I’m going to stay with Izuku over the weekend. I’ll still come in on Sunday to do my night patrol. Goodnight, Katsuki.”

Then he left. Eijirou locked his bedroom door, and didn’t care if Katsuki went to bed hours later than he usually would. Maybe he was drinking, or maybe he was watching Deku’s videos.


The day after his argument with Eijirou, Katsuki was still stewing in his frustration. But he knew, deep down, that Eijirou had the right to refuse sharing his boyfriend’s personal information. But it still hurt to know how little Ei trusted him now. He even stopped talking to Deku in the apartment. He’d only ever communicate with his boyfriend after Katsuki went to bed, or when he was out of the house. And if he didn’t suspect Katsuki of being terrible to Deku before, he certainly did now.

But Katsuki wasn’t about to sit on his ass and try to forget this. No, he felt the need to see Deku in person. To remove this guilt burning inside him.

So Katsuki moved onto his second and far more drastic option. He texted Denki.

Katsuki- Hey, dude. I need you to do me a favor.

Pikachu- Uh, hey Katsu, long time no see

Pikachu- Or text, I guess. What’s up tho? U need help with something?

Katsuki - Yeah, do you still have Shinsou’s number?

Pikachu- bruh, why r u trying to text my ex? I thought we were friends

Pikachu- JK, but seriously, is something up? Why do u need to talk to him?

Katsuki- Personal reasons, Sparky. Can you help me?

Pikachu- uhhh, sure. Here.

Denki’s next text was a phone number. Katsuki grinned.

Katsuki- Thanks, Pikachu

Pikachu- aw am I still called that on ur phone??

Katsuki remembered how that nickname got there in the first place. Denki stole his phone in their second year of high school, and Katsuki never bothered fixing some of the names Denki changed.

Katsuki- Yeah.

As an afterthought, he added.

Katsuki- Thanks for the help.

Denki sent a string of pink heart emojis in return.

Next came the hard part. Katsuki spent several minutes trying to decide what to say. In the end, he made it short and sweet.

Katsuki- Hey, Shinsou. It’s Bakugou. I need your help with something.

He made it as vague as possible. Typically, when a hero personally contacted another hero, it was for work-related emergencies. While this wasn’t a real emergency, Katsuki was hoping he’d be able to use that unspoken rule to get a quick response. But the hours passed, the day progressed, and Katsuki had to remind himself that the underground hero was practically nocturnal. Shinsou was probably asleep, resting before his nightly patrol. So Katsuki waited even longer. He eventually went to bed without a response, and woke up without one either. (Also to his dismay, Eijirou woke up extra early and left already to avoid speaking to Katsuki.)

He stared at his phone in irritation, biting onto his toothbrush while typing out a new text.

Katsuki- Hello?? It’s Ground Zero, in case you forgot who I was.

No response. Katsuki continued on with his morning routine, until he felt his phone buzz in his pocket on his way out the door.

Shinsou- How the fuck did you get my number?

Katsuki frowned.

Katsuki- Got it from Denki. I want to talk to you.

He saw three bubbles pop up, and waited for Shinsou to respond.

Shinsou- Fine. What is it?

Shinsou was as snappish and short as ever, even through text. It pissed Katsuki off, but felt there was something familiar in the other’s tone. This was usually how Katsuki texted others, and he didn’t really like it being used against him.

Katsuki- I know you have Deku’s number. I need it for something.

Katsuki got into his apartment building’s elevator and got to the first floor before being given a response.

Shinsou- … you’re joking, right?

Katsuki furrowed his brows, fighting the frustrated snarl that wanted to rise up in his throat.

Katsuki- I’m completely serious.

A speech bubble indicated that Shinsou was typing. It stayed there for several minutes.

Shinsou finally sent: Why the fuck should I help you? In case you’ve forgotten we aren’t friends. We might’ve gone to school together, but I have no interest in doing anything for you. Besides, Izuku is a civilian. Unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, I have no reason to give you any his personal information.

Shinsou- Izuku is also my best fucking friend, and I’d never let you near him with a ten foot pole. Don’t think I fucking forgot all the shit you put him through.

Katsuki bit his lip, clenching the hand not holding his phone into a fist. But tiny sparks went off in his other hand, singeing his phone case.

Katsuki- Listen, asshole. I just want to talk to the damn nerd. I fucking swear.

Shinsou- Sure you do. I can remember so many times where you wanted to “talk” to him in high school. With your fists. Or by taking the time to tell him again and again that he was useless excuse of a human being.

Shinsou- Bakugou, I have absolutely no intention at all of helping you. And you better fucking leave Deku alone. Pretty much his entire life was a struggle, partially due to you, and I’m not going to let you ruin his happiness now.

Shinsou- Unless it’s an actual emergency, don’t ever text me again.

Shinsou- Goodbye.

Rage boiled in Katsuki’s stomach. His phone case was becoming black and brown, the scent of charred plastic making his nose scrunch and eyes water. He wanted to fucking punch something, or throw his goddamn phone as far as he could. A part of Katsuki wanted to fucking go off on this asshole, curse him out for brushing off a higher-ranking hero than him. But another part of him argued that that’d get him nowhere.

Katsuki- Fine. Go fuck yourself, you purple asshole.

Katsuki pocketed his phone, not caring that his case was still smoking, or that he was getting strange looks from other people on the street.

First Eijirou, now fucking Shinsou. Katsuki was the god damned fifth best hero in Japan, and still climbing the ranks. Hasn’t he proved he was a good guy by now? That he was a fully capable hero? Why didn’t anyone fucking trust him to have a fucking civil conversation with Deku?

As Katsuki’s agency loomed around the corner, he remembered Endeavor and how a bad person could still be a great hero. But Katsuki wasn’t like that fucking bastard. He was a way better person, wasn’t he?

But Katsuki’s charred phone weighed warm and heavy in his pocket, a testament to how his temper could still get away from him. Katsuki thought back to the first time he saw Deku in person since high school, all the way back in September. The image of Shinsou standing in front of him, as if to shield him from Katsuki was burned into his memory.

Maybe he really hasn’t changed at all.


Having Eijirou over for the weekend was always fun. Only a few hours after he arrived at Izuku’s apartment, it started snowing. Ei immediately begged Izuku to go on a walk with him, and of course he had to oblige. Eijirou was like a little kid, rushing to throw on his boots and jacket, being far too cute for a grown man. After dressing for the weather himself, Izuku slipped on Honeydew’s sweater and booties so she walk with them without getting cold. Outside, it wasn’t as chilly as Izuku expected, but the wind was kicking up. More than once, it blew back his hood and forced him to squint in order to see.

Izuku laughed when a particularly fat snowflake fell in Ei’s eye.

“Is this what you wanted?”

“Yes, absolutely.” He said while wiping his eye. Honeydew yipped, probably wondering why they had paused.

Only a few steps later, Izuku slipped on a patch of ice. He let out what was admitted a squeak, arms flying in the air for purchase. A gust of wind blew his hood back, and Izuku thought for sure he’d fall flat on his ass. But before he could hit the ground, a strong arm wrapped around his back. Eijirou kept one hand steady on his back, and the other wrapped around Izuku’s front. He hoisted Izuku back to his feet with startling ease.

“Shit, you okay?”

Izuku nodded. It was snowing harder now, and the wind blew back Eijirou’s own hood too. His red hair was peppered by flakes of white.

“I, uh, I think we should go back home.”

Eijirou laughed. Izuku was standing on his own two feet, but the hand on his back lingered. Only when they started walking again did Eijirou pull his hand away, but Izuku kind of missed that warm, comforting touch. When they got home, the three of them snuggled up on the couch to watch reruns of old cartoons. With the windows frosted in white, and the gentle silence between them as they ate takeout for dinner, Izuku almost felt like they were in their own little world. Like it was just him, Ei, and Honeydew living in a picturesque snowglobe.

It was nice while it lasted. While cuddling on the couch, Izuku started scrolling through Chirper. He checked the forum dedicated to himself out of habit, and almost dropped his phone on his face. Izuku shook Eijirou’s shoulder, jarring him awake from his nap.

“Ei, Ei. Look at this.”

“Huh…?”

Izuku shoved his phone in Eijirou’s face. He watched as his boyfriend went from staring in confusion to surprise. On Izuku’s phone was a photo from earlier in the day, from a street nearby Izuku’s apartment. Someone had posted a photo of two people from across the street. One figure was in a black coat, another in a bright red jacket, and they were with a small, white dog. It was a photo from when Eijirou caught Izuku when he slipped. Even with the snow and the slight blur in the photo, it was almost perfectly clear who the people in the picture were. Izuku’s curly green hair, with Eijirou’s spiky red, were dead giveaways.

The caption under the photo read: Am I seeing things or is this Red Riot with Deku?????

Izuku took his phone back, checking the forum dedicated to Red Riot. The same photo was posted there too. The photo was already a few hours old, and most people were doubtful it was indeed the Sturdy Hero with Deku. But a handful of others insisted it was them. From facts based on Eijirou’s and Izuku’s confirmed heights, to photos taken of Ei from varying angles, to even size estimates of Honeydew, they were dead set on proving it was Eijirou and Izuku.

Izuku brought his knees to his chest, thumbing through the forums at lightning speed. A part of him always knew that something like this would happen. Someone was bound to recognize Eijirou, but Izuku didn’t want it to happen so soon, or at all. He wanted their relationship to stay private, something just for them. He should have known though, that a famous hero and a popular Youtuber wouldn’t be able to stay secret forever.

“Hey, Izuku?”

Eijirou wrapped an arm around his shoulders, urging him to rest against Eijirou’s chest.

“Are you really that upset about this?”

Izuku paused, looking up at Eijirou. Ei looked hardly phased, focusing more on Izuku himself than his phone.

“Are you?”

Eijirou shrugged. “I’ve had the press shove cameras in my face for years. Something this small doesn’t bother me, but it can still be really obnoxious. I doubt this’ll blow up, but if you want me to, I can tell my PR agents to be ready to take care of this.”

Izuku took a deep breath and thought it out. That’s right, while he might be a popular Youtuber, Eijirou was an internationally celebrated hero. He knew what to do about stuff like this.

“If you think it’s a good idea to call your agency, then I’m okay with it.”

Izuku looked back at his phone, at the most recent posts trying to jump into the argument.

“But you really think it’ll be fine?”

Eijirou laughed. “Yeah, babe. People on Chirper post fasle sightings of heroes all the time, there’s no way anyone will actually convince the press it’s us.”

Eijirou gently took Izuku’s phone from his hands and set it on the couch next to them.

“But I guess we should talk about this, you know?” Eijirou leaned back on the couch, urging Izuku to rest with him. He asked, “Do you want our relationship to stay private?”

Izuku swallowed. A part of him, the part that never experienced a relationship this stable before, screamed at him to keep it away from prying eyes. But realistically, it’d be a hard secret to keep in the long run.

“I think,” Izuku started, “that if you want to, I’m happy keeping it private for now.”

Eijirou smiled. He pressed a kiss to Izuku’s temple. “Whatever you want, babe.”

Izuku smiled, nuzzling closer against Eijirou’s side. After that, they fell into a comfortable silence again. The only sounds came from the TV, and the soft gusts of wind from outside. Honeydew, less suspicious of Eijirou than the first time he visited, inched closer to them. Izuku laughed softly as she crawled over Eijirou’s legs to get to Izuku. Honeydew even tolerated a light touch from Ei.

It was nice.


After coming home from his weekend with Izuku, Eijirou honestly kind of forgot about the photo. He had bigger things to deal with, namely Katsuki, and didn’t think much about the photo for a few days. His gut told him the hero fans on Chirper wouldn’t be able to stir up a media storm, and he was right. His agents, usually so on top of everything Red Riot related, said nothing about it. Too bad that didn’t include Eijirou’s friends.

Denki: Bruh.

Denki sent a photo in the group chat.

Eijirou stared at his phone. It was the same picture from Chirper.

Denki : Ei, this kinda looks like you with Midoriya Deku

Mina: OMfg it totally does!

He bit his lip. Eijirou was struck by the memory about how he told the group chat he had a date with someone a few months ago. He remembered keeping the details as vague as possible, but he was hoping none of his friends would put two and two together.

Eijirou: Really? Like yeah the guy in red kinda looks like me but idk about the other person

It felt awful to lie to his friends, but Eijirou knew that Izuku wanted this to stay private. And in a way, Eijirou kind of did too. If his friends knew he was dating one of their favorite Youtubers, he’d never hear the end of it. They’d beg to meet Izuku, would fawn over him, and if no one leaked their relationship to the press by then, one of Eijirou’s friends almost certainly would by accident.

Sero: Is that a dog with them too? That little off-white blurry spot? Kinda looks like Honeydew

Denki: omg ur right.

Sero: But highkey I don’t think that’s Ei and Deku. Where’d u find this pic, Denki?

Denki: Chirper

Sero: lol yeah it’s def not them then. Chirper people have such a bad habit of trying to ID heroes

Sero: Also? Wouldn’t Ei just tell us if he knew Deku?

Mina: Oh tru

Eijirou frowned, feeling the guilt coiling tighter in his stomach. He didn’t respond to the group chat again.

But it turned out selectively lying to his friends would be the least of his problems. When Eijirou opted to spend Christmas with Izuku, instead of going on his annual hike with Katsuki… well, his roommate did not take it well. One of their dining room chairs would need replacing after being burned so badly.

And while Christmas with Izuku was amazing, full of delicious food and gifts, Eijirou felt bad for pushing his best friend to the side. Even though Katsuki had been a huge asshole to him these past few weeks, Eijirou did still care about him. He tried to make it up to Katsuki by getting him athletic gear and cinnamon candies for Christmas, but not even that helped to mend their relationship. Not even a little.

And over the months, Eijirou felt like he was caught between three different worlds. One was comprised of Izuku, who only grew more amazing with each day. He laughed at Eijirou’s terrible jokes, replied with heart-eye emojis to his selfies, cooked homemade meals that reminded him of his moms’ cooking, and even submitted to Eijirou’s suggestions of going hiking or biking with minimal fuss. Their relationship was sweet and fun, but still soft and slow. Nothing like Eijirou’s previous relationships. Before, he only dated other pro Heroes, and they always wanted the relationship to be fast and high-energy. They got together fast, and usually broke up fast too. But Izuku had the patience of a saint, and Eijirou couldn’t thank him enough for it.

The next of Eijirou’s worlds was Katsuki. Eijirou had a beautiful penthouse he wanted to share with Izuku, but couldn’t because of his roommate. Katsuki and Eijirou still went on patrols together. Still worked together. Still lived together. But now, there was a thick, uneasy truce that hung between them and never went away. Eijirou knew Katsuki for years, and could tell when he was mad, frustrated, upset, or disappointed. And yet, Katsuki seemed to be all four while none of them at all. His anger usually involved harsh words and even harsher actions, but all Katsuki ever gave Eijirou were curt words and the occasional nod. It made life in their apartment awkward at best, and uncomfortably tense at worst.

The last world Eijirou felt torn between was the one that involved everything else. His friends, family, job, and the rest of the world. To his friends and parents, Eijirou was still single. To the world at large, Eijirou was one of the most eligible bachelors in Japan (their words, not his). And it upset him, in a way. That he got to date one of the most incredible people he’s ever met and couldn’t tell anyone.

Except Katsuki knew. And honestly, Eijirou almost expected Katsuki to leak the information to the press out of spite. But he didn’t. It was a testament to how much Katsuki grew from their years in high school, that he had this information he could hold over Eijirou’s head, and chose to do nothing with it. In a way, Eijirou was grateful beyond words, but knew that Katsuki would never accept his thanks.

As time went on, the weather grew mild, then warm, then was becoming hot as spring turned into summer. Katsuki and Eijirou’s relationship got less strained, and they spoke more, but he could see the pain in Katuski’s eyes when Eijirou would leave for a date with Izuku. It was almost a silent thing at that point. Eijirou would say he was “going to Musutafu” and Katsuki would know what he meant. Izuku’s name was a thing he dared not say out loud, not matter how unmanly it was to hide his feelings.

A needed distraction, and maybe a chance at finding neutral ground, came in the form of an invitation in Eijirou’s in-box one day. To Lemillion’s 27th birthday party. Eijirou grinned at the sight. He remembered first meeting Lemillion (and Takami!) in high school. Since then, Lemillion had become the number one hero, and maintained his position for almost six years now. His parties weren’t actually all that extravagant, but it was a great opportunity to meet and catch up with a bunch of other heroes. The best part was that Eijirou was allowed a plus one, but a thought occurred to him. Going to this party with Izuku would very likely mean exposing their relationship.

He did want to go, though, and see all his old friends again. And he wanted to bring his boyfriend too. The invitation was sent a month in advance, leaving enough time for all the busy pro Heroes to plan accordingly. It also gave Eijirou time to think about how to best ask Izuku to be his date.

But it turned out, he didn’t need to wait long.


Eijirou was staying over for the weekend again. They didn’t have any fancy or extravagant dates planned, but it was always nice to see him in person. Izuku sighed softly, thumbing through his phone in bed. It was late at night, and Eijirou was snuggling against him, one arm draped over Izuku’s waist and wearing only athletic shorts. He claimed it was getting too warm to be wearing shirts to bed, and maybe a few months ago, Izuku would’ve been hesitant to lay next to him. But he got used to Ei’s habit of wearing shirts as little as possible, and leaned comfortably against his firm, broad back.

He yawned, about to go to sleep when something caught his eye. Someone on Chirper posted a link to a news article released earlier that day. Apparently, some reporters found out where Lemillion’s birthday party venue was and were making a big fuss over it.

Behind him, Eijirou shifted and propped himself up on his elbow. He reached over Izuku for the bottle of water next to the bed, but paused. He tilted Izuku’s phone so he could better see the screen.

“Huh, third year in a row his venue got leaked.”

Izuku chuckled softly. “What’s the big deal, anyways? Don’t reports line up outside the building every year anyways?”

Eijirou chugged half his bottle of water before laying back down.

“It’s really more of a privacy thing. Lemillion always wanted his parties to be lowkey, and he hates it when the press try to camp outside the building.”

Eijirou shifted in bed again, pulling Izuku closer until they were laying face to face.

“Ei?”

Eijirou hummed softly, drumming his fingers lightly on Izuku’s side.

“About the party, actually… I got invited.”

“Oh.” Izuku wasn’t sure what else to say.

“Are you going?” He eventually asked.

Izuku knew that he and Lemillion shared a birthday, but he didn’t want to tell Eijirou yet. If he wanted to go, Izuku would be happy to let him. He was already used to his birthday being overshadowed by the number one hero each year anyways.

Eijirou smiled shyly, but even in the moonlight, Izuku could see that it was strained.

“Yeah, I want to, but I was thinking… would you want to come with me? As my plus one?”

Izuku blinked, opened and closed his mouth more than once. Him, in a room full of heroes? Some of which he probably went to high school with? Watching as someone far greater than him got to celebrate their shared birth date?

Hard pass.

“Well, Ei… I don’t know.” Izuku said, “Isn’t it exclusively for heroes? I feel like I’d be intruding.”

Eijirou shook his head. “Trust me, lots of other heroes bring their partners or spouses. And it’ll be really lowkey. It’ll be lots of fun, and there’ll be plenty of great food too.”

He squeezed Izuku’s hip reassuringly.

“And I know we talked about this before, but I really want you to meet my friends, Izuku.”

Izuku stared at him. “You want to go public with our relationship?”

Eijirou quickly backtracked. “No, no! Not exactly, anyways. The public doesn’t have to know but-” he sighed, sounding frustrated, “I want you to be a bigger part of my life, Izuku. I want you to meet my friends and get to know them. They’d love you, I know it.”

Izuku was hesitant to say anything. On one hand, there was a chance he’d be forced to go to the same party as Kacchan.

On another hand, Izuku had very little experience with parties. He grew up celebrating his birthday with just his mom, and then with her and Hitoshi. Just the idea of going to a party in a big, fancy ballroom was already giving him panic sweats.

And on a third, additional hand, Izuku could already imagine himself stuttering and embarrassing Eijirou in front of all his hero friends.

“Babe, you’re mumbling again.”

Izuku’s breath caught in his throat. He clamped his jaw shut, mortified. Eijirou was watching him carefully. His thumb rubbed tiny circles into the soft skin of Izuku’s hip.

“I get that parties might not be your thing, but it’s been hard keeping our relationship a secret from everyone I know.”

Eijirou reached up to tuck a stray curl behind Izuku’s ear.

“You’re really amazing, Izuku, and I want to show all my friends how great you are. But if it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to go. I won’t either, and we can spend the night going out for dinner.”

Izuku swallowed the small cry that tried to rise up in his throat. All this time, he didn’t think about Eijirou’s friends. Heroes like Pinky and Real Steel, who Eijirou was known to work with for years. And Izuku was forcing Eijirou to keep his part of his life a complete secret just for his sake. The thought of being a burden scared Izuku far more than Lemillion’s party did.

“Okay,” he found himself saying. He could do this. He couldn’t hide from the world forever, anyways. Right?

Eijirou smiled, his shark teeth gleaming in the light. “Really?”

And he sounded so happy, Izuku knew there’d be no way he could change his mind now.

“Yeah, I’ll go with you.”

At that point, Izuku only hoped that things would work out fine.


Chapter Text

Katsuki only ever went to one of Lemillion’s birthday parties before, and only because Eijirou made him go. That was way back when he first debuted as a hero, and needed to go so he could build up connections in the community. But he couldn’t stomach Lemillion’s constant smile and those bright, blue eyes. He looked just a bit too much like All Might for Katsuki’s comfort, but with this air of happy-go-lucky-dumbness around him. It was infuriating. Katsuki knew first-hand how powerful the guy was, why bother acting so dumb?

Anyways, Katsuki went once, and promised himself never again. He hated parties  and being forced to interact with a bunch of extras.

But when he got an invitation for Lemillion’s party this year, he hesitated to delete the email right away. Eijirou already expressed an interest in going this year. And the aching, strained peace between the two of them wasn’t enough to satisfy Katsuki. It was wearing him down to his bones to be this estranged from his best friend. He wanted to start making amends with Eijirou, and going with him to a stupid party seemed to be a good start. After all, Ei had been trying for years to get Katsuki to attend another hero celebration.

But the longer he thought about it, the more Katsuki felt inclined to go. The invitation said they were allowed to bring a plus one (probably meant for civilian partners), and Katsuki had a feeling that Eijirou would want to bring Deku along. The nerd loved heroes, didn’t he? He’d probably be like a kid in a candy shop at this party.

And maybe, after months of being unable to confront Deku, Katsuki might finally have his chance.

Without any more thought, Katsuki responded to the invite, promising his attendance.

Then another thought occurred to him.

Fuck. What was he going to get Lemillion for his birthday?


In the weeks building up to his birthday, Izuku came to lament the fact that he was born on the same day as the number one hero. Of course, he’d gotten used to it over the years, but people were already talking about it. They wanted to know if Lemillion hired any famous dancers or singers, what he was going to wear, who was going. Rumors swirled over whether his party would be it a formal ball or a wild extravaganza. It was exhausting, now that Izuku was actively planning for Lemillion’s celebration rather than his own. As time progressed, he also couldn’t work up the nerve to tell Eijirou it was his birthday too. Ei was so excited that they were going as a couple, Izuku didn’t want to ruin it by suggesting they do something else that night.

Eijirou actually took him to several formal wear shops and a tailor to help look his best. He helped Eijirou pick out a birthday present and signed the they got card for Lemillion all while keeping a smile on his face.

But what really started fraying his nerves was lying to his mom and Hitoshi.

Well, he reasoned, he wasn’t lying exactly. At least not to his mom. Izuku told her Eijirou was taking him out for his birthday, which was completely accurate. It just so happened that they were going to celebrate the number one hero’s birthday, and not his. Izuku also felt terrible telling Hitoshi he couldn’t hang out like they usually did for their birthdays. He claimed Eijirou was planning to do something special with him (which was true!) and that he’d be more than happy meeting up some other time. Hitoshi had no problem with it, telling Izuku to have fun and be safe.

But it felt weird to actively hide the fact that he was going to Lemillion’s party while simultaneously trying to hype himself up for it. It also left him feeling dirty in a way. Izuku didn’t like lying, but he needed to. His mother would worry endlessly if she knew he was going to spend the entire night surrounded by heroes. Hitoshi would be pissed, and would insist that Eijirou should spend the day with Izuku rather than taking him to someone else’s party.

Another part of Izuku wondered if this was what it was like for Eijirou to lie to his friends about their relationship. If it left him as confused and conflicted as Izuku felt, then he was beginning to understand why Ei wanted to make their relationship semi-public. But, he reasoned to himself, it might not be that bad. After all, Eijirou agreed to keep their relationship from the public. And introducing Izuku to all his hero friends was still keeping their lives private, in a way. Eijirou assured him time and time again that very few people in the hero community would willingly leak their relationship. Too many of them felt the intrusive presence of restless reports in their personal lives, and wouldn’t wish it upon a fellow hero.

So Izuku tried to tell himself that it was fine. He could do this. He could survive a single night facing his literal worst-case scenario. He could stand among a crowd of actual pro heroes who may or may not be familiar with his YouTube channel and be totally okay with it. This was completely fine, he told himself.

And he almost believed it, until the night before the party.

Izuku found himself sobbing in his bathroom, sitting on his knees while pressing his forehead against his sink.

The dread and the relentless anxiety building in his body was smothering his lungs and leaving his skin numb. He changed his mind. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t look at Kacchan or Lemillion or anyone else without knowing they were what he could never be.

They’ll hate him. He knew they’d all hate him. They’ll look down on him, or try to pretend he wasn’t there. He was just a nerdy Youtuber hero-fanatic. He was a pest, an overzealous fanboy. They’ll despise him and Izuku will have to be in the same building as them for hours.

He let out another sob.

He didn’t want to go.

He didn’t want to go.

He didn’t want to go...

But Eijirou wanted him to. Izuku was almost comforted by the image of his boyfriend’s big, red eyes and toothy grin.

Izuku swallowed his next sob, gritting his teeth to keep it inside him. For Eijirou, the most amazing person he’s ever met, he’d do anything. Even this.


On July fifteenth, Izuku woke up to a happy birthday message from his mom. He called her back, chatted for a bit, and generally succeeded in not sounding like he was expecting to be executed that night. Expecting Hitoshi to still be asleep, Izuku chose not to bother him and chose to wait for his friend to call him when he could.

Then, it was like the perfect definition of “calm before the storm”. Izuku fed Honeydew, took her for a walk, ate lunch, did some habitual research for his channel, then was on a train to Tokyo with his suit in a plastic wrap. (His neighbor was watching Honeydew for him.) Izuku and Eijirou settled on a simple, dark green suit and black tie, although Izuku had yet to see what Eijirou would be wearing.

When he stepped off the train, careful to keep his plastic wrap from dragging on the ground, Eijirou was waiting for him, like always. He told Izuku that Katsuki was out of the apartment, and that they could stay there before leaving for the party.

While in the massive bathroom connected to Eijirou’s bedroom, Izuku tried brushing his hair again. He fussed with it although he knew no amount of product could keep his hair picture-perfect for very long.

Then came the hard part: putting on the suit. The thing was more expensive than any clothes Izuku had ever bought before. It glided across his skin with ease, fitting him perfectly. Izuku exhaled slowly and looked in the mirror. His hair was as combed and as straight as he could make it, but… Izuku didn’t like the person staring back at him.

His skin was pale, but he was already starting to sweat. Izuku put on some deodorant earlier, but was tempted to apply more. He leaned over the sink and tried to smile, to look more alive. Immediately, it looked more like a pained grimace. He tried again, this time imagining that he was going to film a video. He cringed from his reflection, finding that smile even faker and more forced.

Izuku took a deep breath and remembered the first time Honeydew ever willingly cuddled with Eijirou. It was after a long walk, and she was tired. Eijirou was laying on the couch, and she climbed onto his chest and used his pecs as a pillow. Izuku chuckled softly at the memory, and his smile looked much more natural.

There was a knock on the door.

“Babe? Can I come in?”

Izuku jumped, calling out, “Yeah!”

The door opened, and Eijirou poked his head in. He grinned at Izuku.

“Wow, you look great!” He said.

Eijirou stepped into the room, and Izuku’s breath caught in his throat. Eijirou was in a dark red suit with a black shirt and tie. It wasn’t anything like his casual clothes or costume. He looked like a gentleman, suave and clean shaven, except for his hair.

“You aren’t changing your hair?”

Eijirou’s red hair was up in its usual spikes, clashing a little bit with his freshly-pressed suit. He shrugged.

“This is part of my look! Why, do you not like it?”

“No,” Izuku automatically said, “I’m just surprised, I guess.”

He smiled, hoping it looked more natural than his grimace from before. “You look good, though.”

Eijirou smiled, leaning down to press a kiss to Izuku’s lips.

“Thanks, babe.”

He pulled away, grinning with his pearly shark teeth. “Are you ready for the best party ever?”

No, not really. Izuku still thought. He wanted to go home and eat cheap take out and snuggle on the couch with Honeydew, but it was far too late to back out now.

“Yeah,” he said instead, “let’s go.”

Eijirou lead him out of the pent house, out of the building, and into the barely-dark summer evening. A long, black limousine waited for them.

Izuku stared at the vehicle.

“Ei, you didn’t.”

Eijirou smiled and held the door open for him. “Of course I did! We’re travelling in style tonight!”

Izuku’s eyes darted from the car to Eijirou before hesitantly getting inside. The interior of the limousine was full of plush, black leather and rich mahogany. The seat was more like a couch, lining one side of the limo while the other acted as a drink station stocked with glasses and bottles of wine. The entire car was lit by soft blue and white lights.

Izuku sat down on the soft cushion and Eijirou settled down next to him. The window in the divider rolled down, and Eijirou confirmed their location with the driver. Then the tinted window rolled back up, and Izuku was practically alone with Eijirou. The car started moving, and for the first few minutes, Izuku didn’t say anything.

Then Eijirou grabbed his hand, squeezing it reassuringly.

“Nervous?” He asked.

“A little.”

Eijirou grinned and pressed a kiss to Izuku’s temple. “Don’t worry about it. Everyone is going to love you.”

Izuku wanted so desperately to believe that. His eyes darted towards the complementary bottle sitting across from him. He leaned over and found that it was a brand of champagne he recognized. Izuku opened it, but Eijirou took it from his hands.

“Hey now,” Eijirou said, “there’ll be plenty to drink when we get there. Plus, I know it doesn’t take a lot for you to get tipsy.”

He chuckled, but still poured a small amount for Izuku and himself. Izuku drank it in one gulp, taking a deep breath afterward. He ignored the tremble in is hands when he set the glass back down. He focused instead on his breathing: taking a breath in, taking a breath out, repeat. About twenty minutes later, the car passed by the luxury hotel hosting Lemillion’s birthday party. Eijirou knocked on the divider and told the chauffeur to drive around the back. Izuku frowned in confusion until he noticed the front of the building.

He saw a classic red carpet lined with people in black suits, probably security. And behind the line of agents were crowds of people and flashing lights. Paparazzi.

Eijirou nudged him and grinned.

“That’s really more for the people who want to make a public appearance. We’re going in another way.”

Their limo rounded the building and came up to a surprisingly long line of other vehicles looping around the back. Izuku saw other limousines, as well as normal cars. As he waited for their limo to pull up to the doors, Izuku saw the likes of Suneater and Tsukuyomi stepping out of their respective cars. It didn’t actually surprise Izuku, recalling that quite a few heroes actually preferred their privacy.

Izuku breathed a sigh of relief, comforted to see that there were actual heroes who preferred to slip inside unnoticed.

That relief soon vanished when their limo finally pulled up to the entrance. The double doors were propped open, and there were more security agents here too, although not nearly as many as Izuku saw before. Eijirou grinned as he got out of the limo and held the door open for Izuku.

He closed his eyes, took one last deep breath, then got out of the car. Eijirou closed the door behind him and offered Izuku his arm. He smiled, unable to resist his boyfriend’s charm. Together, they walked past the two security guards and into the building. Signs pointed them down a long, winding hall before stopping outside a set of polished oak doors. They were propped open, revealing a massive room illuminated in white light.

“Ready?” Eijirou asked.

Izuku nodded, not fully trusting himself to speak.

He took one step, then another, then just relied on Eijirou as his boyfriend guided him into the ballroom. Izuku was almost able to distract himself from his increasing sense of dread with how beautiful the room was. The marble floor, white walls, and gorgeous marble columns lead to a domed, gold-encrusted ceiling fitted with crystal chandeliers. The windows facing the main entrance were lined with crimson and gold-embroidered curtains. Music from a small orchestra on a stage filtered through the room. Overall, it was the fanciest gathering Izuku had ever attended. And it was almost beautiful enough to distract Izuku from the horrifying realization that yes, this was actually happening.

But from almost the exact moment he stepped inside the room, Izuku noticed heads turning. He hoped they were looking at Eijirou, but no, their eyes were fixed on him. The plainest, least interesting person in the room. Whispers followed them, various hushed voices whispering Is that Midoriya Deku? Isn’t that Deku?

Deku… Deku… Deku...

It sounded so much like when Izuku was in middle school. Izuku and Eijirou were no longer linking arms, but he couldn’t help but almost hide behind his boyfriend’s much more imposing figure. He tried to look up, but the ceiling felt like it was getting closer and closer, and the ground looked like it was rising up to meet him. The lights felt too bright, swallowing his sight. The music faded until all Izuku felt and heard was his own blood roaring in his ears.

And there were people still staring at him.

“Eijirou!” A voice cut through the haze in Izuku’s mind. He blinked, finding a man in a silvery-gray suit cutting through the crowd. His hair was equally as gray, and his eyes were lined with frankly, the most impressive eyelashes Izuku had ever seen.

“Tetsu!” Eijirou said, just as loud.

The Real Steel came up to them, enveloping Eijirou in a hug.

“How have you been, man?” Eijirou asked. When the two men parted, the other hero’s eyes darted toward Izuku. He did a slight double-take, eyes widening.

“Who’s this?” He asked, but something in his voice implied he already knew the answer.

Eijirou wrapped an arm around Izuku’s shoulders.

“Tetsu, meet my boyfriend, Izuku.”

Izuku blinked, looking up at Eijirou. He almost expected Eijirou to introduce him as Midoriya Deku, semi-famous Youtuber and ultimate hero nerd.

“Holy shit,” Real Steel said.

The next thing Izuku knew, the other hero was standing right in front of him and eclipsing the harsh lights from above.

“You’re Midoriya Deku, right? I’m a huge fan!”

It took Izuku a second to realize he was being spoken to.

“Y-yeah, that’s me. Nice to meet you.”

Out of habit, Izuku’s eyes darted around the room. He prayed that no one would pay attention to Eijirou and Real Steel’s outburst, but he was horrified to see that he was wrong. Even more people than before were staring at him, and the whispers around him were even worse than before.

Then it was like a dam bursting open.

A flood of people crowded around Izuku, eager to meet him or see him until he was surrounded by a wall of other people. For the most part, Izuku bowed, said hello, and put on his most camera-ready smile possible. He should have been excited to meet some of these people, these were heroes he’d seen on TV and even made videos of. But all Izuku could feel was his high-level brain functions shutting down as his body entered pure survival mode.

He exchanged greetings with more people than he could count and said hello to faces he forgot in a second and felt like his own voice and body were shrinking while everyone around him grew bigger and bigger and bigger as Izuku did anything he could to stay alive even as his heart hammered in his chest and the ceiling felt like it was caving in again and Izuku wasn’t even sure if Eijirou was still standing next to him anymore because everything around him was too big, too loud, and far far far too much...

Seconds or minutes or hours after the crowd enveloped him, Izuku felt a hand on his shoulder.

“All of you, take a step back. You’re crowding him like animals,” someone said.

Izuku didn’t blink, didn’t inhale, didn’t visibly respond at all when a familiar face stepped in front of him. Hitoshi stared down at him, his purple hair abnormally well-groomed.

“Let’s go somewhere quiet,” he said.

The hand on Izuku’s shoulder didn’t leave, a massive comfort. Hitoshi walked, guiding Izuku out of the ballroom, until they were in the hallway. Hitoshi tested the nearest door, finding it vacant, and ushered Izuku in. The dim lighting from the moon and the echoing sound of the door shutting snapped Izuku to attention. He blinked, then all at once felt the fear that his adrenaline was trying to keep at bay.

He tried to breathe, but what came out was a sob.

“Hitoshi!” Izuku wrapped his arms around his best friend, fat tears rolling down his face.

His best friend hugged him back, squeezing him reassuringly.

“What are you doing here?” Hitoshi asked, voice soft.

Izuku shook his head, face still buried in his friend’s jacket. He muttered an answer.

“What?”

Izuku looked up, wiping the tears from his eyes.

“E-Eijirou invited me. To be his date.”

Hitoshi’s face darkened immediately.

“He made you come?” He asked, voice still quiet but seething underneath.

Izuku shook his head. “N-no! No, Hitoshi, I agreed to go.”

“You agreed to come to this stupid party, on your birthday?”

Hitoshi blinked and ran a hand through his hair. “Wait, does he even know it’s your birthday too?”

Izuku stared at his best friend, unwilling to say anything. He thought Hitoshi would be angry at him, but his best friend just sighed.

“Izuku, you should have told him. He wouldn’t have dragged you here if he knew.”

“But… he wanted me to meet his friends.” Izuku said, as if it was a proper excuse.

He stared at Hitoshi, his eyes adjusting to the dim lighting. Hitoshi was wearing an actual, formal suit.

“Why are you here?” Izuku asked, genuinely curious.

Hitoshi shrugged. “Denki -Chargebolt- makes me go to at least one social event a year. And this was the one.”

He put a hand on Izuku’s shoulder again. “But I don’t give a shit about that now, I’m taking you home.”

Hitoshi reached for the door handle, but Izuku grabbed his hand and viciously shook his head. “No, Hitoshi, I promise I want to stay.”

Even as he spoke, Izuku cringed from his own words. They both knew exactly how close he was to a full blown panic attack only minutes ago.

“Why?” Hitoshi asked.

Izuku bit his lip. He admitted, “It’s been hard on Eijirou to keep our relationship a secret. He wanted me to come, so his friends could know.”

Hitoshi looked like he was about to say something when they heard heavy footsteps outside.

“Izuku?”

That was Eijirou’s voice. Izuku looked to Hitoshi, and his best friend sighed. He opened the door and stuck his head into the hallway.

“Kirishima, he’s in here.” He said.

A moment later, a pair of familiar, muscular arms were wrapped around Izuku’s shoulders.

“Babe, I was looking for you everywhere. I’m so sorry we got seperated. I got distracted, and I thought you were fine but then when I tried looking for you, you were just gone.”

Izuku sank deeper into his boyfriend’s strong hold. He sighed.

“Sorry, Ei. I just got overwhelmed.”

“Kirishima,” Hitoshi said, “you didn’t know this before, but today is Izuku’s birthday too.”

Izuku stiffened in Eijirou’s hold. He squeezed his eyes shut when Eijirou pulled away to look at him properly.

“Wait, really?”

Izuku opened his eyes, finding Eijirou staring at him with both confusion and doubt. He nodded.

“Me and Lemillion share a birthday.”

“Fuck,” Eijirou immediately said, and Izuku flinched.

Eijirou backtracked. He cupped Izuku’s jaw in his hand.

“Sorry.” He said, “But why didn’t you tell me? I would have taken you out to dinner, or at least gotten you a present!”

Izuku shook his head. “I never really celebrated my birthday before. I never had enough friends for a party, so it was just me and my mom and sometimes Hitoshi. And when Lemillion debuted, the public chose to fixate on him anyways.”

Izuku placed his hand over Eijirou’s. “I’m used to it, I promise.”

“That’s not an excuse.”

Izuku winced from the harsh tone in Eijirou’s voice. He let go of Izuku’s face, and instead, Eijirou ran his hand through his hair. In the moonlight, his eyes looked unusually watery.

“Fuck, I’m such a shitty boyfriend. Come on, we can go home if you want to-”

“No,” Izuku said, surprising all three of them. “You aren’t a bad boyfriend, Ei. You’re amazing, I just didn’t tell you about my birthday.”

Izuku’s hands balled into fists at his sides.

“I still want to meet your friends, Ei. I really do, but I should have told you that it was my birthday and I should have warned you that I have really bad social anxiety.”

Izuku continued, “I want to stay. At least long enough to meet your friends.”

Because Izuku came to this party for only one reason, and that was to make himself less of a burden on Eijirou’s life. He wasn’t going to run away knowing he’s only made things worse.

Eijirou stared at him. The room was silent for a moment, the tension almost palpable.

“Alright,” he said eventually. “Not everyone’s here yet, but we aren’t staying for the whole party. I promise.”

“And I’m staying for as long as you two are.” Hitoshi said.

Izuku almost forgot his best friend was still here. Hitoshi was standing at a respectful distance, leaning against the wall and watching them with his tired eyes.

“Then let’s go back,” Izuku said.

He wiped his eyes one last time, making sure his face was dry, before stepping back into the brightly lit hallway. They returned to the ballroom, where the fashionably late arrivals were stealing nearly everyone’s attention. Eijirou guided him away from the main crowd, instead pulling up a chair at one of the several dozen small, round tables. Izuku sat down and Hitoshi took the seat next to him.

“Want something to drink?” Eijirou asked.

Izuku nodded. “Please.”

Eijirou left, going over to the bar area. Izuku used the time to steady his breathing, wiping his face with the silky white napkin at the table. When Izuku looked up, he noticed Hitoshi staring off into the distance. He followed his friend’s gaze, smiling a little bit at the sight of Chargebolt in a gaudy yellow and black suit.

“So you and Kaminari are back together?” He asked, just to make conversation.

Hitoshi shrugged, although the corners of his mouth were turned upwards.

“We haven’t really talked in a while, but it’s good to see him again.”

Izuku smiled, happy for his best friend. Eijirou came back moments later with three glasses of champagne, handing two to Izuku and Hitoshi before sitting down. Izuku drank his in seconds, feeling the cold, bubbly champagne slide down his throat. He let out a breath, wondering if Eijirou would let him have more. Probably not, especially considering Hitoshi was also watching him.

For a while, the three of them sat in an almost content silence. It was nice, when the chatter from the party blended with the music and Izuku felt like he got his own tiny corner all to himself. Soon, he found himself people-watching, observing Creati and Earphone Jack talking to Froppy, and Ingenium with Uravity. And Battle Fist talking to Real Steel. And Can’t Stop Twinkling strutting through the crowd in a glittery, purple suit.

“Do you want to, you know, go mingle?”

Izuku stared at Eijirou, jaw clenching automatically. He didn’t think he was muttering this time, but both Hitoshi and Eijirou were giving him a knowing look. Izuku’s eyes darted back to the crowd, which seemed somehow less intimidating than before, despite increasing in numbers. This time, Izuku knew Eijirou wasn’t going to leave his side, and he’d always be able to stick to Hitoshi. And the late arrivals stole the hype about Izuku being at the party. Can’t Stop Twinkling already had a crowd of admirers surrounding him.

“Can we just…” Izuku hesitated. He gestured toward the wall, at the fringe of the main party. “Not be near the center of attention this time?”

Eijirou nodded. “Of course.”

He got up, offering Izuku his hand. He found himself smiling as he took Eijirou’s offer, although he let go when they left their table behind to “mingle”. Hitoshi also got up, hands stuffed in his suit pockets and shoulders already starting to slouch.

“What a trio we are,” Izuku said.

Hitoshi snorted. “To be honest, you two are a little too popular for my tastes. If people see me with you two, they might think I have friends.”

Izuku laughed, noticing that as he did so, Eijirou perked up a little.

“Ei!” Someone said. They all turned, finding Pinky skipping towards them, dragging along a confused Cellophane and Chargebolt along with her.

Eijirou brightened up even more. “Hey, guys!”

Izuku stepped back so Eijirou could properly hug and catch up with his friends, although he was pulled back into the group soon enough.

“Wait, you’re Deku, right?” Chargebolt asked.

The two other heroes turned their attention to him, and Pinky even gasped in surprise. She brought her hands to her mouth, eyes wide.

“Ei! You didn’t tell us you knew Deku!”

“Yeah, you didn’t even say you were bringing someone to the party.” Cellophane said.

Eijirou rubbed the back of his neck, cheeks tinged faintly with red. He smiled at his friends, although Izuku could tell it was just a little bit forced.

“Actually, Izuku is my boyfriend.”

Izuku tensed, almost ready for a repeat of earlier and to be mobbed by a prying crowd. But to his surprise, Pinky squealed and threw herself into Eijirou’s arms.

“Oh, Ei! This is the person you’ve been dating? All this time?”

She didn’t sound even remotely upset as she forced Eijirou to spin around with her.

“I’m so proud of you!” She said, wiping away a fake tear. “My baby boy is all grown up.”

“Wait,” Cellophane said, “Then what about that photo of you two from way back in December? That was real? Why didn’t you say so?”

Eijirou rubbed the back of his neck, and Izuku jumped into the conversation without another thought.

“Actually, I asked him not to tell anyone.” He laughed nervously, “For privacy, you know?”

Pinky put one hand on her hip, pointing a finger at Cellophane, “Duh, Hanta. Obviously our Ei wanted to be a good boyfriend.”

She laughed as Cellophane pouted at her. Then, Chargebolt came up to Izuku and held up his phone. “So… does this mean we can we get a picture with you?”

Izuku blinked. “Y-yes?”

In an instant, Chargebolt was standing next to him, shoulder to shoulder as he held his phone up. He yanked on Cellophane’s sleeve until the other hero leaned down and smiled at the camera too.

“No posting it online!” Eijirou warned.

Chargebolt rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue. “I know, Ei. Relax.”

Then he was giving his phone a picture perfect smile that Izuku found hard to resist. He smiled too, holding up a peace sign as the camera clicked. Cellophane leaned away as Chargebolt clutched his phone to his chest, jumping on the balls of his feet.

“I can’t believe I just got a pic with Deku!”

“We know, Denki. We just saw it happen.” Hitoshi said.

Everyone’s attention snapped to Hitoshi, who did a much better job of going unnoticed than Izuku did.

Chargebolt put his hands on his hips. “Where on Earth did you disappear to, mister? I invite you to the most exclusive party of the year as my plus one and you vanish the moment we get here!”

Cellophane snorted. “And this surprises you?”

Hitoshi shrugged, giving the shorter male a lazy smirk.

“I’ve been busy catching up with my best friend.”

Chargebolt stared. “What?”

Izuku coughed, raising his hand slightly. “That would be me.”

Chargebolt’s jaw dropped. “You know each other?”

“How?” Pinky asked, genuinely curious.

Hitoshi said, “We met in our first year of high school. We were in the same general class.”

“Then that means,” Cellophane said, “that Deku went to Yuuei. With us?”

Izuku’s shoulders stiffened. He nodded.

“That’s so cool!” Chargebolt said. A tiny bolt of electricity arched across his shoulders.

“I can’t believe it! I just- you know, I’m a really big fan.”

Izuku didn’t know, actually. But based on how hard Eijirou was trying not to smile, Izuku had the suspicion that his name was commonplace among Ei’s friends. And the longer he spent with Eijirou’s friends, the more obvious it became. Izuku had met fans before, sometimes on the street or in stores, and it was always with a giddy sort of excitement. Like they couldn’t believe that someone famous actually walked to work or bought toilet paper.

Except, Izuku was the hero nerd, right? So why was he the one answering questions and taking photos with the people he made a living off of?

(To be fair, his own phone did hold several new photos of him with all of Eijirou’s friends too.)

And this was so much different from before, but in such a better way. Izuku found that Cellophane was just as witty as he was on camera, always grinning, while Pinky was just as energetic as he’d expect. Chargebolt was actually shorter than Izuku thought, and kept releasing tiny bolts of electricity that made everyone’s hair stand on end because he was so excited.

But having both Eijirou and Hitoshi was a huge comfort, especially knowing that Hitoshi already had positive connections with Eijirou’s friends. They shared stories from when they were in school together, telling Izuku about the time Hitoshi accidentally tied himself upside down to a telephone pole.

“You never told me about that,” Izuku said.

Hitoshi coughed and looked away. “Slipped my mind.”

“Sure it did.”

Izuku was actually starting to enjoy himself when someone from behind him said, “Excuse me.”

He turned, breath catching his throat.

Shoto, the number four hero, stood behind him. His white and red hair was neatly combed and pushed out of his eyes for once. He was so much taller than Izuku expected. He wasn’t broad like Ei, but was filled out with lithe muscle like Hitoshi.

Oh, and he was staring right at Izuku.

“I’m sorry if I was interrupting, but I was wondering if I could talk to you in private.”


Shoto arrived to the party late, although it wasn’t intentional. He simply couldn’t remember if the building opened its doors on the hour or half-past, and just decided to go later. As soon as he entered the building, he noticed Momo waving to him. He joined her, taking a flute of champagne from a waiter passing by with a tray.

“I’m surprised you actually came this year,” Momo said.

Shoto smiled, sipping his drink. “I’ve had a change of heart recently.”

“We’ve noticed,” Jirou said, although she was also happy to see him.

Since becoming quite a prominent hero, Shoto had received invitations to Lemillion’s parties every year. Despite Momo and Jirou’s best efforts to encourage him to come, he always declined. He’d rather go on patrol, or claimed he had to work late at his agency. Sometimes it was the truth, but most often, Shoto was just looking for an excuse. He often saw parties as frivolous wastes of time, but this year was different.

This year, he was determined to reintroduce himself to the community. Reestablish old bonds, maybe make new ones, and hopefully even have some fun.

He was content at the moment to just say hello to Momo when Jirou grabbed her girlfriend’s wrist.

“Look, there he is!” She whispered.

Shoto raised a brow. Very rarely did the sight of another hero excite him, but he followed Jirou’s gaze. He saw Kirishima and Shinsou, and wasn’t that a strange combination?

Shoto thought maybe Jirou was talking about one of them, but then he spotted a third person. Between the two men was someone shorter. A man with curly green hair and famous diamond-shaped freckles. Shoto’s eyes widened.

It was Midoriya Deku.

The man responsible for Shoto’s recent life changes, using his fire and reaching out to others, was at the same party as him. They were under the same roof, even, and Shoto thanked whatever gods there were for this. He naturally assumed that as a busy pro hero, he’d never have the time or means to meet Deku in person. He wanted to approach the man right away, but the trio stopped when Ashido, Sero, and Kaminari came up to them.

“I can’t believe Deku’s here! Do you think he’s someone’s plus one?” Jirou asked.

Momo shook her head. “There were rumors that Lemillion was hosting a special guest? Maybe it’s Deku.”

Shoto shook his head. “He looks like he already knows several people.”

Indeed, Deku inched closer to Shinsou as most of the attention in the group shifted to him, and his eyes kept darting to Kirishima.

“Not surprising,” Momo said, “I bet he’s met tons of heroes.”

“Maybe.”

Shoto felt a strange burning sensation inside him, but it was nothing like his Quirk. It was excitement and impatience, a sensation almost like adrenaline. He may never get the chance to be at the same venue as Deku again, and he might lose the other man in the crowd as the party goes on.

He needed to act now, going Plus Ultra and all that.

“I’m going to go talk to him.” He said.

“Wait-” Momo warned him, but Shoto was already moving.

Up close, he was surprised by how short Deku was in person, almost a full head shorter than Shoto himself. But his voice, hearing it in person was nothing like in a video. Deku tended to laugh sharply, but speak softly. Just seeing all of him, in person, was unlike any video.

Shoto stopped short of the group and cleared his throat.

“Excuse me.”

The group paused and turned to look at him. He saw recognition, and even surprise, from most of his former classmates. But Deku looked like a deer in headlights, his green eyes even wider than usual.

“I’m sorry if I was interrupting, but I was wondering if I could talk to you in private.”

A moment passed. Izuku hesitantly pointed to himself. “Me?”

Shoto nodded.

“Why?” Shinsou asked. Shoto thought it was strange that someone usually so detached from others was this quick to interrogate him.

“I’d just like to talk.”

“About what?” Shinsou pressed. Even stranger, he took a half step forward. Like a guard dog.

Shoto looked him directly in the eyes. “It’s about something personal.”

“Hitoshi,” Deku said.

And was he referring to Shinsou by his hero name, or were they actually that close?

Deku tried to smile like he did in his videos, but it was strained and tainted by the fear in his eyes.

“It’s fine. I don’t know if I can help, but I’m willing to listen.”

Shoto smiled, and noticed that it made some of the tension from Deku’s shoulders melt.

He gestured over his shoulder.

“Let’s find somewhere quiet, then.”


Izuku had no idea what he did to warrant this. If this was a punishment, then he wanted to know what he did wrong. If this was some kind of reward from the universe, Izuku also wanted to know what he did right so he could never do it again. He almost didn’t know what came over him. Izuku just knew that Hitoshi already pulled him out of a dangerous situation once, and that his best friend was on high alert for other “threats”. Izuku also knew that Hitoshi would have no problem picking a fight with the fourth best hero in the country if it meant protecting him.

So Izuku followed Shoto into the hallway from earlier, and actually found the same room Izuku was pulled into by Hitoshi. Except, this time Shoto felt along the wall for a light switch. With more than just moonlight to illuminate the area, Izuku noticed that they were in an empty conference room. He leaned against the table in a hopefully casual manner and waited for Shoto to speak first.

Except, to his surprise, Shoto didn’t say anything at first. He stared at Izuku with something akin to awe in his eyes, before holding up his left hand. A small flame burst to life in his palm. Izuku’s eyes widened. He leaned back from the fire, although a part of him was tempted to move closer. Because never, not in all his years as a hero, had Shoto ever willingly used his pyrokinesis. Some fans even doubted he could do it, until Shoto was placed in a life-threatening situation against a villain with a plant-based Quirk. His fire was brutal, yet efficient.

Izuku swallowed, finding his mouth dry.

“What..?”

Shoto smiled at him.

“I watched that video you made about me months ago. It’s one of my favorites, actually.”

Shoto took a step closer, showing Izuku how the fame danced across his skin.

“It’s because of you that I’ve been secretly training the left half of my body to handle my Quirk, so I can use it in combat.”

Shoto extinguished his flame, leaving the air between them startlingly cold.

“I asked to talk to you so I could thank you, Deku, for helping me reaching my full potential.”

Izuku felt like he was shrinking again, but not like before. Shoto’s words washed over him, enveloping him like a blanket. He always made his videos with the intent that normal people watched them, not heroes. But time and time again, he was proved wrong. And Izuku never fathomed that someone as small as him could have this big of an impact on one of the best heroes in the country.

He brought his hands to his mouth, tears already forming at the corners of his eyes.

“I- I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.”

Shoto chuckled softly. “You don’t need to say anything. I only wanted you to know how much you’ve helped me. But if you don’t mind me saying, I want you to have my personal number.”

Izuku could have laughed. Certainly, there was something wrong with his hearing. Too much stimuli tonight short-circuited his brain. But the longer he stared at Shoto, waiting for the other to change his mind, the more he realized that the hero wasn’t kidding.

“You’re serious?”

Shoto nodded. “I don’t want you to feel obligated to text me, but if you ever need my help, I’ll do everything I can.”

So that’s how Izuku found himself reaching into his suit pocket, pulling out his phone, and watching as Shoto himself saved his phone number to Izuku’s contact list. When Izuku got his phone back, Shoto smiled again. Although, his cheeks looked a little flush.

“Sorry for asking, but do you mind if I get a photo too? I’m a big fan, after all.”

Izuku, speechless, could only nod yes.


Katsuki hated his stuffy suit and the overly-fancy venue and the obnoxious orchestra that played classical music. He yanked at his tie, loosening the knot as he stepped through the front doors to the party after all the “fashionably late” losers. He sighed. Didn’t everyone here know that Lemillion was going over-the-top-formal to compensate for last year?

The amount of booze and drunk heroes under one roof that night was a PR nightmare.

Speaking of, Katsuki brushed off those brave enough to approach him in search of something to drink. He snatched a flute of champagne from a passing waiter, lurking near the wall to keep attention off himself. His eyes scanned the room, searching for Eijirou. Soon enough, he spotted his best friend sitting at a table with Denki, Hanta, Mina… and Shinsou?

What the fuck were they doing with that purple asshole? Unless he and Denki got back together. Katsuki exhaled through his nose, deciding he’d rather sit with his roommate than with a bunch of extras, despite their strained relationship. Katsuki passed by tables and small crowds of people talking. Someone called out to him, bravely said hello, and that caught Eijirou’s attention. He straightened up in his seat as Katsuki approached him.

“Can I sit here?” He asked, gesturing to one of the two free seats at the table.

The conversation died in an instant. Eijirou stared at him, mouth slightly open. Shinsou glared daggers at him while everyone else stared between Eijirou and Katsuki with confusion. They never told any of their mutual friends about their problems, and Katsuki was kind of starting to regret it.

Eijirou and Shinsou shared a look and Katsuki frowned. Since when were they so friendly?

“You know what, never mind.” Katsuki turned, ignored Eijirou’s call for him to wait, and stalked off. His fists were clenched at his side, although a familiar heat pulsed beneath his skin. He gritted his teeth, deciding to go to the bathroom to splash some water on his face.

Katsuki stopped as he walked into someone emerging from the back hallway.

“Watch where you’re-”

His voice died in his throat.

Deku immediately took a step back from him, eyes wide and mouth open. Half-and-Half emerged from the hallway behind Deku, eyes stoic as ever.

“Deku?” Katsuki asked.

So Eijirou really did bring his boyfriend along. Although, why the hell was he with Shoto?

Deku’s mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. He looked pale and tense as he stared at Katsuki. His eyes showed no sense of anger or surprise. Just fear.

“You… you remember me?” He asked.

Katsuki’s brows furrowed. “The fuck kind of question is that?”

They grew up together, were almost like brothers at one point. They went the same schools from kindergarten to Yuuei. How could Katsuki possibly forget?

“Deku, are you okay?” Icy Hot asked.

He was staring at Deku, hovering a smidge too close for Katsuki’s comfort. The way Shoto was standing, next to Deku but with one foot slightly forward, indicated he’d be more than willing to step between them if necessary.

“I- I’m sorry.” Deku’s eyes darted around the ballroom. “I see my friends over there. I- I have to go.”

He tried to squeeze by, but Katsuki stood firm.

“Wait, I just want to talk to you.”

Deku’s face became even paler.

“I’m sorry, Kac- Ground Zero, I just, I just need to go.”

Katsuki blinked, a childhood’s worth of memories flooding into the back of his mind. Deku almost called him Kacchan. It sounded so familiar and so right on Deku’s tongue even after all these years, but Katsuki resisted the urge to sneer.

Why the fuck was Deku calling him Ground Zero?

It wasn’t Kacchan or Katsuki or even Bakugou. Did Deku want so desperately to forget their childhood that he wasn’t even going to use Katsuki’s real name?

Deku hurried by him in Katsuki’s moment of confusion with Icy Hot following him. As the other walked by, his dual-colored glare caught Katsuki off guard. It seemed that Deku made it abundantly clear he wanted nothing to do with Katsuki. So he watched as Deku ran off. Eijirou and Shinsou met him halfway there, apparently rushing to rescue him from Katsuki too. They returned to their table, Deku sitting next to Eijirou while Shoto took the last seat.

Katsuki growled under his breath and stalked off to the bathroom.


Izuku almost let himself relax after seeing Katsuki. But he was still deathly pale as he settled at the table, and his hands shook in his lap. While the others at the table were busy talking among themselves, Eijirou reached over and gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

“It’s okay,” he said.

Izuku smiled, far from calm but much happier now that he had Eijirou’s big, sturdy hand holding him steady. Moments later, the chatter and music in the room died down. Izuku looked up, finding Lemillion himself standing under a spotlight on the stage across the room.

He smiled, tapping the microphone in front of him.

“Hey everyone, long time no see! Thanks for coming out tonight!”

Cheers, claps, and whistles rung out. Izuku saw bursts of sparks, energy, and light from various heroes go up in the air in an impromptu miniature firework display. Lemillion laughed and raised his hand, asking everyone to settle down.

“I know some of you weren’t too happy with the theme of the party this year, but a bunch of pro-heroes can’t get together to trash a mansion every year.”

Laughter rung out, including from Izuku’s table. He and Hitoshi shared a look. Neither of them were in on the joke, it seemed. Lemillion carried on with his speech, just as charismatic and cheerful as he was on TV. Even though Lemillion stood on a stage on the other side of the room, Izuku admired his confident grin and tall stature. His eyes swept across the room, maybe looking for old friends, but paused when they fell on Izuku. The next moment, Lemillion blinked and looked away.

After a brief speech, Lemillion gestured to the line of caterers along the wall and proudly proclaimed, “Dig in!”

The food all looked delicious, although both Eijirou and Hitoshi refused to let Izuku have any more alcohol. While they were poured glasses of wine, Izuku received sparkling water. From across the room, Izuku could see Kacchan sitting at the same table as Lemillion, Hawks, Mirko, and Best Jeanist, although he hardly looked like he wanted to be there. After a moment, Izuku realized Lemillion was staring at him and quickly looked away.

Instead, he focused on Eijirou’s friends. Kaminari (he insisted Izuku call him by his personal name) was trying and failing to flirt with Hitoshi. There were cheesy pickup lines and absurd compliments galore, and more than once Izuku burst out laughing. Hitoshi, meanwhile, ate while giving Kaminari only a fond smile every once in a while. But to those who knew him well- Kaminari and Izuku- they knew that Hitoshi was happy. Pinky gushed to Izuku about how much she loved his Me Time videos, and that she was tempted to recreate some of his challenges herself.

By the time dinner ended, the lingering fear at the back of Izuku’s mind started to melt away. Then, the lights in the entire ballroom dimmed as a trolley was wheeled out carrying a massive cake. The white multi-tiered cake was decorated with green accents and a golden one followed by a long string of zeros.

And it was a little surreal at first, to hear an entire room of heroes singing the same birthday song Izuku’s mom would usually sing to him on this day.

Even as Izuku sang along with everyone else, he closed his eyes. He listened to the chorus of voices around him, and it was almost like everyone was singing for him. It made Izuku wonder. Was this what it was like for Lemillion? Every year?

At the end of the song, Izuku opened his eyes and noticed Eijirou staring at him. He quickly looked away, but it made Izuku’s stomach clench with embarrassment. After Lemillion blew out his candles and the lights came back on, Izuku noticed the layers of blue, red and yellow inside, reminiscent of Lemillion’s first costume.

“Do you want me to get you some cake?”

Izuku blinked, finding Eijirou staring at him again. He was biting his lip, though, as if guilty. Izuku shook his head. He smiled, hoping it seemed natural.

“It’s fine, Ei. I promise.”

He got up with the others that wanted cake, surprised to find Lemillion himself handing out plates of the dessert along with a server. Izuku tried to smile politely when Lemillion passed him a plate. The hero was so much taller than Izuku, as bulky as Eijirou but with gleaming blue eyes that widened when they saw him.

“Oh wow, it really is you.”

Izuku’s smile faltered. “I’m sorry?”

Lemillion laughed softly, running a hand through his hair and getting bits of frosting stuck in his cowlick.

“Sorry, I mean, I almost didn’t believe it when I saw your name on the guest list.”

And Lemillion, the number one hero in the country, grinned as he leaned forward.

“I’m a huge fan of your channel, actually.” He whispered, as if letting Izuku in on some important secret. “I’d love to be able to talk to you in private, if we can.”

Izuku’s mouth hung open and he could already tell that his cheeks were turning red. He only nodded, almost helpless as the number one hero clapped his hands together and smiled.

“We’ll talk after I’m finished here, yeah?”

Izuku nodded again, turning on his heel and hurrying away before anyone could notice how utterly speechless he was. He found himself sitting at his table staring at his slice of cake until a hand waved in front of his face.

“Hello? Deku?” Hitoshi’s voice asked. “Did seeing the number one hero in person make you short circuit?”

Izuku shook his head, glancing from Lemillion to Hitoshi. “Y-yeah, sort of.”

He shoveled some cake into his mouth so he didn’t have to answer any more questions, but he didn’t miss the way Eijirou stared at Lemillion with a slight pout on his lips. A few minutes later, Ei leaned down and quietly asked, “Are you okay?”

Izuku nodded, genuinely fine.

“You sure? You aren’t getting tired or anything?”

Izuku recalled some of their last dates, mainly to highly public places like amusement parks. An introvert at heart, Izuku wasn’t built for long-term social interaction. But whether it was the champagne he drank earlier, or something else, Izuku shook his head.

“I’m fine, I promise.”

A moment later, a shadow fell over Izuku. Eijirou’s eyes widened as he looked up at someone behind Izuku.

“Sorry to interrupt, Red Riot, but I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your plus one.”

Izuku turned, finding Lemillion standing behind him. He turned back to Eijirou, finding his boyfriend with one hand on the back of his chair about to stand up too. Izuku squeezed his arm and gave him a reassuring smile.

“I’ll be right back,” he said.

Then Izuku found himself standing and walking behind Lemillion. They left the ballroom, and Lemillion lead him to a different backroom than the one Izuku was in before. This one was an even larger conference room. As soon as the doors closed and Lemillion was away from everyone else’s eyes, something about him changed. He audibly sighed as his shoulders relaxed. It didn’t seem exactly like he was tired, but maybe happy to be somewhere quiet.

Then he turned, fixing his gaze once more on Izuku. And the realization that they were utterly alone hit Izuku harder than a train. It was like the first time he met Eijirou, except one hundred times more intense. Izuku felt his palms begin tingling as his heart started beating faster. He could tell he was sweating and was thankful for his dark suit.

Lemillion, the most famous hero in the world, smiled at him. This man, dubbed the Hero with Countless Quirks, was the pinnacle of heroism. He was known for his powerful Permeation, but was also famous for being the only person in the world with not one, not two, but almost ten Quirks. Super strength, speed, and others like Black Whip made Lemillion a living legend across the world. And for some reason, he was interested in Izuku.

“So,” Lemillion started. He sat down in one of the chairs, gesturing for Izuku to sit next to him. “Sorry if I came on really strong before, I was just so excited to finally meet you.”

He laughed, although Izuku did not join him. He sat with his back straight and hands gripping his knees, hoping to every and any god that Lemillion couldn’t tell how close he was to fainting.

“Is there… something you need from me?” Izuku asked, voice small.

Lemillion’s smile faded a little. He leaned forward in his chair, suddenly serious.

“Yes, actually. I want to offer you a job as one of my analysts.”

Izuku wasn’t sure if the floor beneath him gave out, or if the falling sensation he felt was from his heart shooting down to his feet. Actually, now that he thought about it, he wasn’t sure if his heart was working at all anymore.

“You can’t be serious.” He said and wow did that come out wrong.

Lemillion leaned away, holding his hands up.

“Obviously, if you love your work right now I wouldn’t ever want to pressure you to change careers. Sorry, I guess I should have considered that.”

Izuku blinked, feeling like his heart was trying to restart itself. His stomach twisted in knots, horrified at the idea that he upset someone.

“No, no, that’s not what I meant, I-I’m so sorry…”

He swallowed, fiddling viciously with the hems of his sleeves under the table.

“It’s just that… why do you want me?”

Lemillion blinked. Then he threw his head back and laughed as if Izuku told the funniest joke.

“Are you serious? You’re amazing!”

Lemillion gestured to Izuku. “Your theories are almost never wrong, your work for your channel is immaculate. I have crime statistic and hero experts with analyzing Quirks that still can’t pick up on some of the details and patterns that you can.”

The hero continued, “I don’t know how you do it, but I’d love for you to work with me.”

Something about Lemillion’s offer struck Izuku. He didn’t want Izuku to work for him, he wanted Izuku to work with him. Implying that they’d be partners. Equals.

Izuku didn’t realize he was crying until Lemillion’s smile vanished and he scrambled to pull out the handkerchief from his suit pocket.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to offend-”

Izuku accepted the hero’s handkerchief, dabbing his eyes on the undoubtedly-expensive silk.

“No, it’s not that. It’s just…”

His voice wavered and broke as Izuku sobbed again.

“Thank you,” he managed to stutter out, although Izuku already knew his answer.

As stressful as it sometimes was, Izuku loved his work as a Youtuber. He loved being able to share knowledge and inspire others. He loved showing his fans his days off with Honeydew and he loved his work because it was how he met Eijirou.

Izuku took a staggering breath, “I’m so sorry, but I think I have to decline. I’m absolutely honored, but I don’t really want a change in careers right now.”

He blinked away the last of his tears and tried to smile.

“Although if you’d like my help in the future, I’d never say no.”

Lemillion breathed a sigh of relief, giving Izuku his trademark smile that almost reminded him of All Might.

And that was how Izuku got the personal phone number of not only Shoto, but Lemillion himself. Izuku sent a test text, making sure he saved the right phone. Lemillion’s phone buzzed in his pocket.


Katsuki wasn’t going to wait any longer. He watched as Lemillion walked away from the party with Deku in tow, and after a few minutes, decided to get up and follow after them. It seemed like Deku was never going to be alone of his own free will, so Katsuki was more than content catching him off guard. He wandered around the hallways and other rooms, finally hearing Lemillion’s muffled voice from behind a set of wooden doors. Not wanting to make it seem like he was actively eavesdropping, Katsuki backed away and waited at the end of the hall.

He leaned against the wall and yawned, grumpy and kind of pissed off that he was forced to stay up so long after he’d usually go to bed. He scrolled through his phone, looking at nothing in particular until he heard the doors open.

Heavy footsteps that sounded like Lemillion’s came close, and that’s when Katsuki made his move. He pocketed his phone, turned the corner, and very pointedly bumped into Deku. He paused, pretending to be surprised.

“Hey, Deku. Just the guy I was looking for.”

Lemillion laughed, patting Deku on the back. “Wow, someone sure is popular tonight.”

“He sure is.” Katsuki smiled, still playing dumb. “Anyways, I was really hoping to talk to you for a few minutes in private.”

Deku stared at him, still refusing to speak. Oblivious, Lemillion took a step back.

“Well, don’t let me get in your way. I’ll see you both later.”

Then he was off, and Katsuki ignored how Deku eyes trailed after him.

Then the two of them were alone.

Katsuki gestured to the room that Deku and Lemillion just came out of. He started walking, relieved to hear that Deku was following him. Once they were in private, Katsuki took a deep breath and finally faced the boy he spent almost his entire life bullying. The two of them stood a few feet apart, with Deku leaning against the conference table and gripping the edges so hard, his knuckles were white. But now that they were finally alone, Katsuki almost didn’t know where to begin.

“Deku...”

“What do you want from me now, Ground Zero?”

Katsuki faltered, mouth opening and closing. There was that name again. No Kacchan, no sense of familiarity at all in Deku’s voice. Deku was staring at him, body stiff and taut despite the slight tremble in his shoulders. But there was something new in Deku’s eyes. Something other than the fear that Katsuki was most accustomed to. It was something beyond even the anger Katsuki had seen on occasion. Deku’s brows were bent downward and he stared at Katsuki with a fire in his eyes. His lips were pursed tight, but in a way Katsuki knew was holding back a snarl.

For the first time in his life, Midoriya Izuku stared at Katsuki with nothing but hatred.


“Deku…”

“What do you want from me now, Ground Zero?”

Izuku felt his heart hammering in his chest, tears already threatening to spill. But unlike the first time the two of them met, unlike even earlier in the night, Izuku wasn’t afraid. Even though Kacchan caught him off guard when they bumped into each other, Izuku was ready for him this time. Whatever he was going to say, Izuku didn’t want to hear it. He spent too fucking long being deathly terrified of this man, and he was sick of it.

He was given the most validation he ever had in his life tonight. Not one, but two prominent heroes told him that he was an inspiration, a brilliant mind, a wonderful person, and everything that Kacchan always said he never was. Eijirou and Hitoshi spent the entire night trying to protect him from Kacchan, but Izuku was tired of that too. He wasn’t helpless, and he wasn’t weak.

By the looks of it, just calling his childhood bully by his hero name already ticked him off. Kacchan wrinkled his nose more than once when he heard Ground Zero on Izuku’s tongue.

Kacchan held his hands up in a gesture of peace. Ironic, given how easily Izuku could remember the heat that those palms can give off.

“Look, I’m not here to start a fight. I just want to talk.”

Izuku tilted his chin up slightly, lips pressed tightly together. He waited.

Kacchan lowered his hands, sighing softly.

“Look, I know weren’t always close when we were younger, and I know I did a lot of shitty stuff to you, but I regret it now. I’ve gotten better, and I just want to apologize for everything I did. And, you know, make things right.”

Multiple memories flashed through Izuku’s mind at once.

Kacchan as a little kid, picking on Izuku with explosions that were mere pinpricks compared to the pain he could inflict now.

Kacchan in their last year of middle school burning his journal and telling him to jump off a roof.

Kacchan in their first year of high school, hitting Izuku hard enough to leave bruises and burn marks.

Kacchan in their second year of high school, teasing Izuku for his Youtube channel and how embarrassingly desperate he was to be a hero.

Kacchan in their third year of high school laughing when Izuku failed yet again to get into the hero course.

Kacchan in their third year spamming Izuku’s videos with hate comments and slurs.

Kacchan in their third year showing off his hero license on the day of their graduation. Kacchan asking sickly sweet where Izuku’s license was, reminding him of everything he failed to be.

Izuku was not a cruel person. He was not hateful or violent and he was not the kind to hold grudges. But he couldn’t stop the tremble in his arms nor the shaky breath he took in. And he couldn’t stop the onslaught of emotions from clouding his judgement.

“No.”

Kacchan blinked. “What?”

Izuku shook his head, something burning hot boiling in his veins.

“I won’t accept your apology.”

Izuku gripped the front of his shirt, blinking as hot tears started streaming down his cheeks.

“You have no idea how fucking long I’ve spent hating myself. You don’t know how long I spent in therapy for things you did to me, and you don’t know the kind of life I’ve been trying to live.”

Izuku’s voice rose in volume, cracking as he tried not to sob. “And now, just as I’m starting to learn how to accept myself you walk back into my life and expect me to forgive you for everything, just like that?”

Izuku inhaled sharply. The burning adrenaline in his veins was the best high he’d ever had. For too long, he dreaded ever seeing Kacchan again. Being alone with this man was his literal worst nightmare for over a fucking decade. But now that it was actually happening, Izuku felt like a starving wolf hunting a rabbit. He held the high ground, the terms of the conversation, and he wasn’t going to give it up so easily.

He actually relished it when he said, “I don’t want your fucking apology, Ground Zero. And I don’t want you in my life, either.”

Kacchan furrowed his brows, a barely-contained snarl forming on his lips.

“Listen, I’m not here to argue, but first of all, it wasn’t me who walked into your life. You were the one who started dating my best friend!”

Deep down, Izuku knew that Kacchan was right. He was the “homewrecker”, so to speak. But he didn’t care.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, “I don’t care that you live with Eijirou. I don’t care that your his best friend. None of that erases what you did to me!”

Kacchan took a step back. Maybe he was surprised that Izuku had the guts to finally defend himself.

Izuku balled his fists at his side. His next breath sounded more like a sob, but there was nothing remorseful in it. He stared at Kacchan with unblinking eyes.

“Do you even realize what you’re trying to apologize for? Do you even remember all the things you said and did to me?”

When Kacchan didn’t respond, Izuku heard himself laughing. The sound was strained and manic, unfamiliar to his own ears.

“I never became a hero. I couldn’t be. You knew it and you enjoyed telling me when it was the only hope I had in my life. We might’ve been kids, but you were a fucking monster.”

Izuku’s voice was getting louder and louder, but it was like he was hearing it from outside his body.

“You beat me again and again until I realized you were better than me at everything. I spent so long being afraid of you, but I’m not anymore!”

Over ten years of fear, frustration, and regret boiled over until the entire room was blurred by Izuku’s tears. He snarled at Kacchan.

“And I won’t let you hurt me ever again!”


Eijirou kept glancing toward the hallway that Izuku disappeared to. He drummed his fingers on the table, an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Moments later, Lemillion emerged from the hallway alone. Eijirou tilted his head, confused. He waited, but Izuku still didn’t appear. Did he maybe go to use the bathroom?

Eijirou turned, finding Shinsou halfway out of his chair and scanning the crowd.

“Do you see Izuku?” Eijirou asked.

Shinsou shook his head. He was biting his lip, eyes widening after a second.

“I don’t see Bakugou, either.”

The two of them shared a look. Then Eijirou was out of his seat, rushing to get to the back hallway with Shinsou only a step behind him.


Katsuki stood still as Deku stormed out of the room. It was almost like he was having an out of body experience. He couldn’t feel anything around him and it felt like the room was shrinking.

There had been times when he pushed Deku a little too far and made him mad. There have been plenty of times when he made Deku cry. But he never once saw Deku like that. Filled with only hatred and rage.

And looking at Katsuki the way he used to look at Deku.

He heard Deku stomp down the hall, but pause only a few meters from the door.

“Babe? What’s wrong? What are you doing here?”

That was Eijirou’s voice. Muffled and distant but still clear enough to hear.

“Izuku?” And there was Shinsou.

“I’m fine.” Deku said. His voice was so much softer than it had been a minute ago. “Ei, I want to go home now.”

“Yeah, yeah, no problem. Let me grab my jacket and we can leave.”

Then three sets of footsteps faded until Katsuki could hear nothing at all.

Then it was completely silent, not even the music and chatter from the dinner party reaching this far down the hall.

Then Katsuki felt his legs give out as he collapsed in the nearest chair. He buried his hands in his hair, gripping it tight to feel anything other than the disgust and bile rising up in his throat. Katsuki blinked, vision going blurry. It took him a moment to realize he was crying. Fat drops rolled down his cheeks, dripping from his nose and pooling on the table.

Holy fuck, he wanted to say.

But his throat felt too tight and burned too hot to say anything. He squeezed his eyes shut.

Katsuki couldn’t stop the onslaught of memories from his childhood. He remembered Deku screaming and crying and begging Katsuki to leave him alone. For most of their lives, Izuku stared at him with fear. Now, Katsuki was used to people being afraid of him. He was a powerful hero, and one with a famously short temper. He relished the way villains looked at him, the fear immediately apparent in their eyes. But the way Izuku used to look at him was different from that. It was the same look civilians have when they encounter a villain they have no chance of escaping.

Katsuki let out his first sob. He gritted his teeth and suppressed his next one, but it didn’t make the feelings inside him go away.

Far, far too late, he realized that while he might be a pro hero to everyone else, he has been nothing but Deku’s villain.

Chapter Text

Eijirou browsed the shiny, glass cases in the jewelry shop, lips pursed, with nothing really catching his eye. Across the counter, the jeweler was fiddling with the cuffs of his neatly-pressed shirt. His eyes followed Eijirou as he moved. Eijirou was hoping he’d be able to browse in peace, but he was recognized almost the moment he walked into the shop.

“Is there anything I can help you with, Red Riot?”

Eijirou tried to smile as politely as he could and shook his head. “I’m fine, really. Just looking.”

Eventually, he did stop in front of one particular case. It was full of watches like the others in this row, but contained a variety of rather understated watches. Eijirou smiled at the sleek, leather straps and simple faces. So many of the other cases held ones with heavy-looking metal straps and gaudy, diamond-studded faces. They were a bit much for even Eijirou’s taste. And besides, he knew Izuku wouldn’t like one of those anyways.

Eijirou’s eyes soon landed on a watch with a black, leather strap, navy blue face, and numbers outlined in silver. It was perfect. Eijirou looked up, finding the jeweler still standing at the ready. He tapped his finger on top of the glass case above the watch he wanted.

“How much for this one?”

The jewelry came over, examining the watch Eijirou picked out. He said, “Two thousand dollars, sir.”

Eijirou smiled. “I’ll take it.”

He left the jewelry shop still smiling. Yes, the watch was a little pricey, but it would be worth it. Already, a week had passed since Izuku’s birthday. Waiting another day to get him a gift would be absolutely unacceptable.

Eijirou’s smile faded a little when he recalled the immediate aftermath of Lemillion’s party. He knew that Izuku was, at one point, in the same room as Katsuki, and for an unknown amount of time. But it was long enough that Izuku was sobbing by the time Eijirou found him.

And after they left, Izuku was so emotionally drained (and maybe tipsy) that he fell asleep in the limo almost right away. So while Izuku was sleeping, Eijirou asked the driver to bring them back to his penthouse. Eijirou stuffed a duffle bag with clothes, his toothbrush, comb, and hair gel, then took Izuku back to his apartment. He stayed with his boyfriend for the rest of the weekend, and spent every night with him since. Eijirou still commuted to Tokyo for work, but he didn’t mind it.

For one, Izuku was exhausted after the party and refused to get out of bed until noon the next day. He didn’t say it out loud at the time, but Eijirou was afraid it had something to do with Izuku’s anxiety. So he stayed to cook for Izuku and watch after him. Slowly, however, Izuku seemed to return to his ordinary self, but with one exception. Eijirou almost couldn’t describe it, but it was like Izuku was more alive.

His smile was brighter, bigger, and he laughed louder. His footsteps were lighter and his eyes gleamed with a fire Eijirou hadn’t seen before. It was like something was holding Izuku down, and he was finally rid of it. Eijirou didn’t have to think too hard to realize it was probably related to Katsuki, but again, he didn’t bring it up. Izuku was happy, so beautifully and wonderfully happy, and Eijirou desperately didn’t want to ruin it.

When Eijirou eventually returned from the jewelry shop, he paused in the doorway. He heard Izuku laughing, voice not distinct enough to make out his words. He frowned. Was someone here?

Eijirou took off his shoes and padded down the hallway. He heard Izuku’s voice coming from his room, and knocked on the door.

“Hey, babe?”

“Ei?” Izuku asked.

Eijirou opened the door and poked his head in. He found Izuku sitting at his desk, sketchbook in hand.

“Oh! Are you busy?” Eijirou asked.

Izuku shook his head. “It’s fine. I’m just filming a Me Time video right now.”

Eijirou took a half-step back, mindful not to rustle the paper gift bag behind his back. “Sorry. Should I go, or..?”

Izuku smiled at him. “Don’t worry, I’ll be done soon.”

Eijirou nodded and smiled back. He closed the door, although he didn’t leave right away.

“Sorry about that,” he heard Izuku say, “my boyfriend just got home.”

Eijirou’s eyes widened. The Izuku from a few weeks ago would have done anything to keep their relationship a secret. Granted, he didn’t use Eijirou’s name and he was pretty sure he didn’t somehow end up being filmed. A part of Eijirou thought that this was reasonable, no need to give away his identity directly if Izuku wasn’t 100% ready yet. But still, it caused butterflies to flutter in his stomach. Would Eijirou’s voice be distinct enough that, even off-camera, fans would be able to recognize him? Would anyone connect his nickname to his actual name?

Would Izuku care if anyone noticed?

Would Eijirou himself care?

His friends were so happy to meet Izuku at the party. It already took a huge weight off of Eijirou’s chest. But if Izuku, for some reason, was willing to go even further, Eijirou would never say no to him.

Eijirou walked back down the hall, sitting on the couch next to Honeydew. The Shih Tzu perked her head up, stared at Eijirou for a moment, then went back to her nap. Eijirou smiled, reaching over to gently pet her. Honey still occasionally forgot who Eijirou was, but today she seemed willing to let him touch her.

After a few minutes, Eijirou could hear footsteps.

“Ei?”

He looked over the back of the couch, grinning as Izuku came to sit next to him. Eijirou leaned down and pressed a light kiss to his boyfriend’s cheek.

“Hey, babe. Sorry for interrupting you.”

Izuku laughed. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

Izuku’s eyes fell on the white and gold paper bag sitting on the coffee table. “What’s that?”

Eijirou grinned. “Close your eyes.”

“What?”

Eijirou grabbed the bag, holding it to his chest. He winked. “Trust me.”

Izuku laughed, but indulged Eijirou and closed his eyes. Eijirou pulled the black, leather box out of the bag. He didn’t have time to wrap it, but this would do.

“Hold out your hands,” he said.

Eijirou placed the small box in Izuku’s waiting palms. Izuku frowned, feeling the weight of the box before opening his eyes. He stared at it, speechless for a moment. His eyes darted from the fancy brand name etched in gold to Eijioru.

“Ei?”

He shifted closer, heart beating a little faster. “Just open it.”

Izuku glanced back at the box, then popped it open. He gasped sharply.

Eijirou said, “Happy belated birthday, babe.”

Izuku brought a hand to his mouth. “Is this for me? Eijirou, how much was this?”

Eijirou picked up the watch from it’s velvet-lined cushion. “Don’t worry about it.”

He took the box from Izuku’s hands, and slid the watch over his wrist. He smiled at Izuku.

“It fits perfectly.”

And the watch did look beautiful on Izuku. Understated, but still very handsome. Izuku examined the watch, running his fingers over its glossy face.

“Are you sure about this, Ei? When did you get this?”

“Today.”

Izuku blinked. His mouth opened and closed. “Is that where you went? A jewelry shop?”

Eijirou nodded, trying to ignore the doubt starting to creep up on him. “Do you not like it? We can exchange it for something else.”

To his surprise, Izuku clutched his wrist to his chest. “No! I-I like it, but it was probably expensive, right? I just want to know if you’re sure about this.”

Eijirou took Izuku’s hand in his own. He pressed a kiss to the back of Izuku’s hand, ignoring how bright-red his boyfriend’s face became.  

“Don’t worry about the money, I promise it’s not a big deal. I just wanted to get you something nice for your birthday because you deserved it.”

Even if in the worst possible scenario and they broke up tomorrow, Eijirou still wouldn’t want the watch back. Izuku was too amazing, too wonderful, too brave and passionate to make him regret buying it.

Izuku took his hand back, observing the new watch on his wrist. Unshed tears started to well up in his eyes.

“...Thank you, Eijirou. I really do love it.”

Izuku leaned over and pressed a kiss to Eijirou’s cheek. And wow, the novelty of seeing Izuku’s smile and getting to hold him and kiss him still hadn’t worn off. Not even after all these months. There was even something about the way Izuku left the room to start editing his video. Something about hearing his footsteps and the sound of Izuku’s rolling chair sliding on the hardwood floor. Something inherently domestic.

Eijirou truly loved visiting Izuku. He loved waking up to find his boyfriend next to him every day for the past week. He loved Honeydew and he loved cooking for Izuku and having his boyfriend cook for him in turn. And maybe he always had this desire, but only now did it feel so incredibly obvious.

Eijirou wanted to live with Izuku. As in, move in with him.

Sure, living in a fancy penthouse was fun. It was spacious and bright and it had a beautiful view. And after living in Yuuei’s dorms with Katsuki for three years, the two of them got along fine on their own. But in a way, it didn’t compare to this. Eijirou was happy for so long to live with his best friend, but now, he wanted to live with the person he loved.

However, it wouldn’t be quite as simple as Eijirou would have liked. His agency was well established in Tokyo. He had too many connections there, and it’d be difficult to uproot his entire agency. Especially considering it wasn’t entirely his. It was a joint agency with Katsuki. And this apartment, while cozy at times, was also cramped at others. It really wasn’t meant for two people and a dog.

The alternative would be for Izuku and him to move into a new apartment in Tokyo. But that would most likely mean that Izuku would have to quit working at the Spilled Ink. He’d also be living farther away from his mom. And all of this planning and all of these concerns were entirely contingent on Izuku actually wanting to live with him too.

Eijirou hummed softly. He glanced down at the couch potato snoring next to him.

“What do you think I should do, Honeydew?”

The small dog, entirely unmoved by Eijirou’s gift to her dad, lifted her head and nudged his hand with her nose. It wasn’t much of a response, but it still made Eijirou smile.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end.

Later that night, Eijirou felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He frowned, his manager’s ID and photo on screen. He went to the now-empty bedroom for some privacy.

“Hey, is something happening?”

“Don’t worry, there’s no emergency.”

Eijirou breathed a sigh of relief. “Then what’s up?”

“Bakugou called me just now. Said he wasn’t coming in tomorrow. I need to know if you can cover his morning patrol.”

An icy shock went through him, and Eijirou didn’t say anything for a moment.

Katsuki wasn’t coming in to work? He would never willingly skip a day unless he was in the hospital, or too sick to leave his bed.

“Kirishima? You still there?”

He swallowed. “Yeah, I’m here. I’ll be there tomorrow morning.”

“Good.”

A pause. Then, “This isn’t like him, you and I both know that. Let me know if he needs an extra day off.”

“Got it. Thanks for letting me know.”

“Of course.”

Then she hung up.

Eijirou quickly started going through his phone, trying to find any message sent by Katsuki. There was only one, a text from about ten minutes ago.

Katsuki: Not going to work tomorrow. Sorry.

“Fuck.” Eijirou said.

He’d either have to leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow, or he could go home now. The summer sun was hanging low in the sky, but by the time he got back to his own apartment, it’d be dark out. Neither option felt very appealing.

Eijirou left the bedroom, finding Izuku in the kitchen preparing dinner. He paused in the doorway, unsure of what to say. Izuku looked up from cutting vegetables, his smile instantly fading.

“Eijirou?” Izuku asked.

“I have to get back to my apartment.”

“Is there an emergency?”

Eijirou shook his head. “I think my… my roommate isn’t feeling well. I have to cover his patrol tomorrow, too.”

“Oh.” Izuku said. It was all he said.

Eijirou asked, “Is that okay?”

Izuku stared at him. “Why are you asking me?”

Eijirou shrugged. “I know you and my roommate fought at Lemillion’s party. I don’t want to leave you without making sure you’re alright.”

Izuku set his knife down and sighed. “It’s okay, Ei. I’m not scared of him anymore.”

Eijirou blinked. “Really?”

Izuku nodded. “Besides, if it’s work related, then you shouldn’t let me stop you.”

Eijirou bit his lip, wondering if Izuku really was okay with it.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to visit again soon.” He said.

Izuku’s shoulders visibly sagged. The watch he had yet to take off glinted in the light. And yet, Izuku nodded.

“Eijirou, you’re a pro hero. You have more responsibilities than to just me. If you have to go, that’s fine.”

Eijirou should have been relieved, but it only made it feel harder to leave. He crossed the space between them and pulled Izuku into a hug.

“Thanks, babe.”

Izuku hugged him back. “Of course.”

A few minutes later, Eijirou was running down the street with his duffle bag, hoping to catch the next train back to Tokyo.


 

Just as he had predicted, it was well after dark by the time Eijirou made it back to his apartment. He let himself in, finding only the kitchen lights on. Eijirou kicked off his sneakers and dropped his duffle bag by the door.

“Katsuki? I’m home.”

No response other than a dull groan. Years of hero work forced Eijirou’s body into motion faster than his mind could respond. He ran to the kitchen, searching for a sick or injured roommate.

Eijirou found Katsuki slumped over at the dining table, drenched in shadows with an empty beer bottle next to him. Eijirou’s nose wrinkled from the scent of booze.

“...Katsuki? Dude?”

Eijirou pulled up the chair next to his roommate, giving Katsuki a light shake. He got another low groan in response.

“Hey, hey, Katsuki. Are you alright? What happened?”

Slowly, Katsuki pushed himself off the table, swaying slightly. He stared at Eijirou, brows furrowed.

“Eijirou?” He asked, voice hoarse.

“Yeah, it’s me. I’m here, so what’s-”

“Do you think I’m a bad person?”

Eijirou faltered, words dying on his lips.

He stared. “What?"

Katsuki swallowed, “Do you… do you think I’m a bad person?”

Eijirou kept stared at him. Was Katsuki drunk?

“I’m getting you into bed.” He chose to say.

Eijirou hoisted Katsuki to his feet, but his friend apparently wasn’t going to help him at all. Eijirou threw Katsuki’s arm over his shoulder and started slowly walking toward Katsuki’s bedroom.

Katsuki asked, “Has he said anything… a-about me?”

Eijirou frowned. “Who?”

“D... Midoriya.” Katsuki said. “He hates me, you know.”

Eijirou gritted his teeth, pushing open the door to Katsuki’s bedroom. Immediately, he tripped over a shirt laying on the floor. In fact, the more Eijirou’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, the more he saw. There were dirty clothes all over his floor. Katsuki’s bed was unmade. Even more concerning, Eijirou could see the gleam of more empty bottles on the nightstand.

“How long have you been drinking?” He asked.

He saw Katsuki yesterday for their joint patrol. Things between them were quiet, but Katsuki didn’t give any sign that he was slipping this badly.

Or, maybe, Eijirou didn’t do a good enough job keeping check on his roommate. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that they both did the bare minimum to keep in contact. Sure, Eijirou saw Katsuki at the agency, and they went on patrol together, but he should have noticed the way Katsuki refused to speak more than a few words at a time. How much more he tried to stay away from Eijirou.

Eijirou set Katsuki on the bed. He took the empty bottles from the other’s nightstand and left. Eijirou flicked on the hallway lights on his way back to the kitchen. He put the bottles in the recycling bin and filled a glass with water. He went back to Katsuki’s room, finding his roommate face down on the bed.

“Hey, Katsuki? I want you to drink this.”

“Hm?”

Eijirou set the glass down and basically forced Katsuki to sit upright. He put the glass in Katsuki’s hands, but the other didn’t drink. He just stared at the cup.

“Katsuki?”

With the only light source coming from behind Eijirou, it took a moment to realize that Katsuki was crying. Eijirou sucked in a breath, sitting on the bed next to his best friend.

“Dude? What’s wrong?”

Katsuki shook his head, still not taking a sip of water. “Do you hate me too? Is that why you haven’t been here?”

Eijirou blinked, shocked. He opened and closed his mouth, but no words came to him. But his silence seemed to be enough of an answer for Katsuki. He took in a staggered breath, exhaling slowly.

“I knew it.” Katsuki said, “I’d hate me too…”

“No, no that’s not it! You know I don’t hate you! Why would I?”

And yet, even as he spoke, the answer seemed beyond obvious. Eijirou didn’t know exactly what happened between Izuku and Katsuki, but he knew enough. And he knew about their less than pleasant history together. Katsuki lifted his head to look at him, eyes watery. This was the Katsuki that lurked beneath his usual aggressive exterior. This was the Katsuki that his confident attitude had been trying to smother for as long as Eijirou could remember.

Eijirou took a breath and said, “I do not think you’re a bad person, Katsuki. I never have.”

He continued, “But you made mistakes. Lots of them.”

He wondered if Katsuki would even remember this conversation in the morning. He honestly doubted it.

Eijirou looked down and nudged the glass of water in Katsuki’s loose grip. “I still want you to drink this.”

Katsuki stared at him for a long moment, then looked down. He lifted the cup to his lips and drank in long, slow gulps. Some of the water slipped down his chin and neck, but he didn’t seem bothered by it. When the glass was empty, Eijirou took it back. He helped Katsuki settle into bed, then got up. Eijirou refilled the glass of water in the kitchen, then left it on Katsuki’s nightstand.

“Goodnight.” He said.

“Night.” Katsuki replied, not opening his eyes.

Eijirou frowned, but left Katsuki alone.

Then, it was just Eijirou and the penthouse he hadn’t really seen since last week. It still looked the same, but now it felt far too large. As Eijirou walked back to the kitchen for something to eat, he couldn’t help but feel unnerved by the echo of his footsteps. It was like the opposite of Izuku’s apartment, it held way too much empty space.

Eijirou shifted through the pantry, found a half-empty box of cereal, and decided fuck it. He sat at the kitchen counter and just ate handfuls out of the box. Even the crunch from eating felt too loud, although sitting alone in the dark wasn’t helping.

Eijirou sighed. He missed Izuku already, or rather, missed the atmosphere back in his apartment. It was cluttered, but the two of them knew how to navigate around the other. Eijirou knew when Izuku had to go to work, when he usually recorded, when he wanted peace and quiet to edit. And Izuku knew when Eijirou wanted to exercise, when he wanted to spend time together, when he had to leave to go on patrol.

In contrast, he and Katsuki usually had very similar schedules. They didn’t have to move around each other; it was more like they moved in tandem. Katsuki was Eijirou’s best friend, but he and Izuku fit like a lock and key. They were different, but in a good way. And Eijirou forgot what it felt like to not have that sort of companionship, or anyone at all. Even when he and Izuku weren’t together, he still felt like he could reach out to Izuku at a moment’s notice. Here, Eijirou couldn’t imagine what it must have felt like to spend the week alone in the wake of Lemillion’s party.

But he wouldn’t excuse Katsuki’s drinking. That had to be from much bigger problems. Namely, Eijirou’s boyfriend. The boyfriend who, earlier that very day, Eijirou decided he wanted to move in with. Eijirou still wanted that to happen, but now he knew that he could no longer trust Katsuki to live by himself. At least for now.

Chapter Text

“You sure you want to go through with this?” Hitoshi asked. 

Izuku nodded. “Eijirou wants me to.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to, though.”

“I know, but still.” Izuku sighed, “I’m not taking back what I said, but this is important to Eijirou. He wouldn’t ask me to do something like this without a reason.”

Izuku adjusted his computer screen, making sure his face was in the FaceTime window. Hitoshi sat in a chair borrowed from the kitchen, arms crossed over his chest. He was here as Izuku’s moral support, just as Eijirou would be for Ground Zero on the other side of the screen. 

Izuku was only doing this because he suspected something in Eijirou’s life was seriously wrong. He left Izuku’s apartment in a hurry because of something related to Ground Zero. Over a week had passed since, and Eijirou was barely able to FaceTime or text between taking on extra patrols and staying in his own home. It was worrying, to say the least. 

So Izuku clicked on Eijirou’s phone number and waited. A few seconds later, Eijirou’s face popped up on screen. There were slight shadows under his eyes, but he smiled at Izuku.

“Hey, babe! How’ve you been?”

He wanted to smile back. “I’ve been fine. Missed you, though.”

Seeing Eijirou on screen reminded him of only a few months ago, when their relationship was far more tentative. Next to him, Hitoshi cleared his throat. Izuku threw him a quick glance. 

Izuku looked back at the screen and asked, “Is he there with you?”

Eijirou’s smile faded a little. “Yeah, yeah he’s right next to me. Hang on.”

Eijirou shifted out of frame, there was a second of silence, then someone new came on screen. It had only been a few weeks since last seeing Ground Zero, but he looked much worse than Izuku remembered. Bags under his eyes, hair even more messy than usual, and stubble on his usually clean-shaven face. If Izuku was even a smidge more vindictive, he would have utterly relished Ground Zero’s appearance. 

As it was, his stomach twisted with pity. Izuku still meant everything he said at Lemillion’s party, and he certainly wouldn’t cower from Ground Zero anymore. And yet, this was also the same person that Izuku used to spend nearly every day with as a child. They used to be best friends. They used to go explore the woods together and play in creeks. They were very nearly raised together.

It felt like so long ago now. 

But Izuku didn’t even try to smile. “Hello, Ground Zero.”

He didn’t flinch or frown from hearing Izuku use his hero name. He only nodded. “Hey, Midoriya.”

Izuku blinked. Midoriya?

He couldn’t remember the last time this man called him anything other than Deku. 

He asked. “Why did you want to talk to me again?”

Ground Zero momentarily glanced off to the side, to Eijirou, before looking back. 

Izuku raised a brow. He said, “I’m not going to apologize for what I said at the party, if that’s what you’re expecting.”

Ground Zero straightened up. “No, fuck no, I don’t expect you to.”

He ran a hand through his hair. “I-I’m not going to try to apologize again for all the shit I did. I don’t think you’d want me to, anyways. I just-”

He took a deep breath. “I just can’t live and be okay with how things are between us.”

His eyes, usually blood red, seemed like a muddled maroon. 

“I swear to fucking god, I’m a different person.”

“How does that change what happened in the past?”

“It doesn’t. I know that now.” Ground Zero stared at him, still not one to ever back down from anyone. “I just…”

He shook his head, silent for a moment. Hitoshi was leaning in his seat now, elbows on his knees. He was staring intently at Izuku, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. Izuku could hear Eijirou in the background, although his voice was too faint to know exactly what he said. Ground Zero glanced over at him and shook his head. 

The pro hero took a long, slow breath. He couldn’t make eye contact when he asked, “How do I become a better person?”

The question caught both Izuku and Hitoshi by surprise. Izuku could hear Eijirou speaking again, and while his voice was soft, he was clearly talking quickly. Ground Zero ignored whatever he said. 

Izuku stared at him. “You expect me to know?”

Was this what Ground Zero wanted? To beg for Izuku’s help? 

If he were even a bit more of an asshole, Izuku would take the opportunity to turn the tables on Ground Zero and run with it. To let the tormentor become the tormented and show Ground Zero the exact kind of treatment Izuku endured for years. But Izuku wasn’t that type of person. The pity in his stomach intensified. A part of him wanted nothing to do with this man. Another, much smaller, part of him almost wanted to help Ground Zero. 

Despite that miniscule part of him, Izuku’s voice was cold and even as he spoke. “The only thing you can do at this point is get yourself a therapist. Or a good anger management counselor.” 

Ground Zero flinched from his words. From the corner of his eye, Hitoshi was grinning faintly. It made Izuku feel a little better.

A moment of silence passed between him and Ground Zero.

“...If I do get help, I don’t expect you to magically start liking me.” He said and holy shit, was he actually taking Izuku seriously?

Ground Zero took in a shaky breath. “I’m not proud of how I treated you. At all. But if this is the right way forward, I’m going to take it.”

He ran his hands over his face. Izuku couldn’t tell if Ground Zero had more he wanted to say, but he didn’t press him. 

Ground Zero found the strength to meet Izuku’s eyes. “Thanks for talking to me. I appreciate it.”

A slight hesitation, and then, “Bye, Midoriya.”

Then he was reaching for the computer, and the call ended. For a moment, Izuku wasn’t sure how to react.

“Izuku?” Hitoshi asked, “You okay?”

Izuku turned away from the screen. His best friend wasn’t smiling anymore. His tired, purple eyes were watching Izuku intently. 

He shrugged. “I’m fine. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but that was a lot smoother and shorter than I thought it’d be.”

Hitoshi snorted softly. “You think he’s actually going to try getting help?”

Izuku hummed softly, genuinely unsure. Ground Zero was the kind of person to insist, or at least imply, that he was perfect in every way. The person Izuku just spoke with was… not that at all. 

The next moment, his phone buzzed. It was a text from Eijirou. 

Eijirou: Hey, thanks for doing this. I know you don’t like him, but this was helpful for us both.

And finally, Izuku found himself smiling. 


Izuku couldn’t sleep that night, maybe it was because he didn’t have Eijirou to keep him warm. Maybe it was seeing Ground Zero again, but something was keeping him up. 

He decided he’d rather do something to occupy himself than lay listless in bed, and picked up his phone. Izuku hadn’t gone on Chirper in a few days, so he visited his forum. That was a mistake, because there were hundreds of unread posts. 

Izuku furrowed his brows and scrolled down to the earliest of the tidal wave of posts. He found the one that looked like it started it all, made maybe only an hour after he posted his last video. 

All-Right201: YALL DEKU GOT A BOYFRIEND LOOK AT THIS CLIP

Izuku tapped on the attached video, finding a slightly grainy image of himself staring back at him. His eyes were fixated on his notebook as he tried to draw Suneater from memory (a terribly daunting task), when a very muffled knocking sound could be heard. 

There was a voice, deep and masculine, but otherwise indecipherable. 

“Ei?” The Izuku in the video said. Izuku didn’t even realize he had started smiling the moment he heard Eijirou’s voice.

Eijirou’s indistinct voice spoke again. While editing, Izuku made sure that Red Riot’s voice was unrecognizable, but he supposed a really dedicated fan might be able to guess who it was. 

Izuku watched himself say, “It’s fine. I’m just filming a Me Time video right now.”

He continued watching until he reached the moment that was probably causing all the excitement in the forum.

“Sorry about that, my boyfriend just got home.”

Izuku grinned. He intentionally left this bit in because honestly? He loved Eijirou and he wanted everyone to know that, in some way, Izuku was with someone who made him happy. He also hoped it’d put aside theories that he’d be single forever. However, just casually scrolling back up to the more recent posts, Izuku realized this worked a bit too well. 

Cereal_Monster51: Aww! I’m so happy for him! About time someone realized how great Deku was!!

Best-Jean-Ass#4: Does his BF have a familiar voice? I swear I’ve heard it before. Like, maybe he’s another Youtuber?

GangGangOrca: Idk. Just sounds like a regular guy to me.

Some other fans jokingly complained about how their favorite Youtuber was taken. And whatever hate or troll-ish messages were drowned out by a sea of approval. It really did warm Izuku’s heart to have such a loving and supporting fanbase.

But he supposed he shouldn’t let all this excitement go on without a response. So with his sleep addled brain, Izuku typed out a short message. 

MidoriyaDekuWasTaken: Hi guys! Thank you for the massive show of support! And yes, I do have a boyfriend. We’re keeping our relationship semi-private for now, but that might not be a permanent decision.

Thank you all for continuing to enjoy my nonsense and applauding me finally getting myself a man. 

Before any responses could appear, Izuku turned off his phone. He curled up in bed and managed to fall asleep.


“Are you sure I look okay?” 

Izuku laughed. “You look fine, Ei. You shouldn’t even worry, she’s going to love you.”

Eijirou was still living primarily in his penthouse, but he was visiting today for a very important meeting. The two of them just got off the train and were heading for Izuku’s childhood home. 

“She’s been dying to meet you, you know.”

Eijirou laughed. “Does she know that her son is dating one of the top heroes in the country?”

Izuku hummed slowly. “Maybe.”

In truth, he had yet to tell his mom exactly who his boyfriend was. For one, she knew he used to be deathly afraid of most heroes and he didn’t want her to worry. And second, Izuku knew she’d drive herself insane knowing she’d have a guest of Eijirou’s caliber today. 

When the two of them started walking by the homes Izuku used to see every day on the way to school, he said, “Welcome to my old neighborhood.”

Ground Zero’s parents still lived in a large house nearby. Despite their son, Izuku had called them Auntie Mitsuki and Uncle Masaru for nearly his whole life. But today, Izuku wasn’t going to concern himself with them, or Ground Zero. 

Today was a day for himself, and for his family.

Izuku soon guided Eijirou to his mom’s front door, and paused outside of it. “Ready?” 

Eijirou was playing with the hem of his sleeveless hoodie. He swallowed and nodded. “Ready.”

Izuku smiled and pulled out his old house key. He opened the front door for them.

“Hey, Mom! We’re here!”

Izuku immediately heard rapid footsteps, and his mom came speed-walking around the corner.

“Izuku! Oh, my baby boy!”

She pulled him into a tight hug and kissed his cheek. Izuku squirmed away from her kiss, but still hugged her back. 

He laughed. “Mom, did you forget you have another guest?”

His mom pulled away, eyes landing on the very tall, very muscular, redheaded man standing in the doorway. Eijirou squared his shoulders and bowed. 

“I’m Kirishima Eijirou. I’m so happy to finally meet you.”

Izuku’s mom made a soft squeaking sound, hands over her mouth. Eijirou straightened up and smiled at her. Izuku would have laughed at the situation if he didn’t fear that his mother would faint then and there. 

Thankfully, she managed a small nod and said, “It’s...nice to meet you too…”

Izuku snorted. “How about I make us some tea?”

He gently nudged his mom, getting her to walk back to the kitchen with Izuku and Eijirou following behind. In the kitchen, Izuku waved off his mom’s attempt to help as he heated a kettle of water. A few moments later, the three of them were sitting around the dining table. 

“So…” Izuku’s mom said, “exactly how long have you two been together?”

Izuku opened his mouth, but paused. He honestly wasn’t sure when he and Eijirou started “officially” dating. He supposed he could date their relationship as early as Eijirou’s birthday, all the way back in October. But that seemed so long ago, could that be right?

Eijirou spoke up instead. “Oh, it’s been about… eight or nine months, I think? I almost can’t believe it.”

He rubbed the back of his neck and laughed. “The time really flew by.”

Izuku could hear the sharp breath his mom took. Honestly, he was just as surprised as her. Izuku shifted a bit closer to Eijirou and couldn’t help but smile softly. “Ei’s been really good to me, mom.”

That made his mom’s shoulders relax a little more. 

Eijirou said, “And we really almost met by pure chance. We were in the same place at the same time for just a few seconds, but I was lucky enough to be able to reach out to him after.”

Eijirou’s eyes, often so sharp and wide, softened. He leaned in a bit closer to Izuku. 

“And I’m so lucky I did get to meet him. Izuku is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever gotten to know.”

And just like that, Izuku’s mother nearly burst into tears. 

Izuku reached for Eijirou’s hand under the table. He stared at his boyfriend. “Ei..?” 

Eijirou took his hand and squeezed it back.

“Oh, Izuku…” his mom said. She dabbed her eyes with her sleeve. She couldn’t finish her sentence, but seeing how happy she was for him made Izuku’s heart flutter. 

Eijirou gave his hand another squeeze, grinning at Izuku. 

Later that day, Eijirou asked if he could talk to Izuku in private. And embarrassingly enough, the only private place Izuku could think of was his childhood bedroom. 

“Wow…” 

Eijirou spun in a circle, taking in the sheer amount of hero merch. Most of it was of All Might, although the posters were faded and the figures were covered in dust.

Izuku leaned against his old desk. “So… what did you want to talk about?”

Eijirou came up to him and took both of Izuku’s hands into his own. Ei rubbed little circles into the backs of Izuku’s hands, his calloused fingers a firm, steady comfort. 

“I’ve been meaning to ask you about something important.” Eijirou squeezed his hands lightly, “We’ve been dating for a while now, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.”

Eijirou glanced down at their hands, where the watch he gave Izuku for his birthday gleamed in the light. Eijirou looked back at Izuku as if he were the most beautiful person in the world.

“Do you want to move in together?”

Izuku’s breath caught in his throat. 

He started crying before he could even answer, but Izuku knew what he wanted to say.

He threw himself into Eijirou’s arms, pressing a kiss to his lips. 

“Yes,” he said. 


Izuku immediately had a good feeling about this one. He stepped inside the most recent apartment he and Eijirou were visiting that day. Located in Tokyo only a few blocks from Eijirou’s agency, it had tall windows, lots of natural lighting, and plenty of space for two people and a doggy. The building this apartment was located in was somewhat upscale, a definite upgrade from Izuku’s current living conditions, but a clear downgrade from Ei’s penthouse. Although, Eijirou expressed more than once that he’d be happy living anywhere with Izuku. 

Stepping inside after him, Eijirou said, “Hey, this one is nice.”

Izuku nodded. “Yeah, it looks way better than in the pictures.”

Behind them, the landlord was standing in the doorway. A tall, heavy-set man, he would have been intimidating if he wasn’t fiddling with his hands as much as he was. Izuku supposed that knowing one of the most famous heroes in the country wanting an apartment in his building set him on edge. 

Eijirou walked over to the windows and smiled. “Hey, babe. Come look at this.”

Izuku walked over, and Eijirou pointed to the small park down the block. Izuku squinted, then gasped. There was a fenced off area full of dogs off-leash. A dog park! Izuku knew there was a park near this apartment, but he didn’t know it had an area for dogs.

“This place is perfect for Honey.” Izuku said. 

Eijirou laughed. “But do you like it?”

Izuku turned back to the empty apartment. He could easily envision Eijirou’s couch, Izuku’s coffee table, and Honeydew’s doggy bed taking up most of the space in their living area.

Walking over to the kitchen, Izuku loved that there was enough space for two people to move around in. Plus, no tiled floors. Just beautiful polished wood that wouldn’t freeze Izuku’s feet early in the morning (unlike his current apartment). 

The landlord walked them through the rest of the apartment, showing off the rather large bedroom and the joint bathroom. 

They still had more buildings they planned on visiting, but as they left, Izuku caught himself already making plans on how to arrange their furniture in the bedroom. 


Katsuki didn’t want to live in the penthouse anymore. At first, when he and Ei were budding heroes and finally started making bank, they wanted the biggest, fanciest, most famous-person-y place they could afford. Which, admittedly, might’ve been just a little too over the top for even them. 

But when he lived alone, without even a hint of his roommate, Katsuki began to hate the echo of his footsteps on the polished floors. It made him feel paranoid, like there was someone else with him that he couldn’t see. And even if he tried playing music or leaving the TV on, every move he made created too much sound. The clink of a beer bottle on the table, the creak from the couch, and closing doors all felt too loud in such a massive, empty space. 

Katsuki almost wasn’t sure what to do, until Eijirou told him that he was contemplating moving in with Izuku. 

And it did hurt. Because Katsuki just got his best friend back in his life, got barely a smidge of closure from Midoriya, and now he was faced with the risk of being alone again. 

But it was almost a blessing in disguise, because he could move out too. He could get his own place, something smaller and a space he could easily fill by himself. Hell, maybe he’d even get some house plants or a pet, just to have another living thing in the apartment with him. Anything to keep him from drowning in his thoughts, and replaying the memory of Midoriya screaming at him with tears streaming down his face. 

“We might’ve been kids, but you were a fucking monster...”

Katsuki recoiled from his thoughts, but at least now, he had something akin to a solution. 

He walked past a couple on the street, and their eyes lingered on him. Hushed whispers followed, and he wondered if they recognized the Ground Zero. 

He kept walking, hands in his hoodie. Until now, he used to be like Deku, in a way. Head too high up in the clouds, too far gone to realize what he was becoming. 

What he already became. 

What he had been for a long time. 

Katsuki couldn’t imagine what he might be today if he never met Eijirou, or Hanta and Denki and Mina. They just barely kept him from teetering over the edge and into a realm of definitely-not-a-hero.

Katuki kicked a can lying on the street, hearing the sharp clatter as it collided with a trash can. It didn’t grant him the relief he needed, but Katsuki doubted anything physical at this point would. So that was why he was here, walking down this particular street late at night.

He looked up, scanning the names or numbers on the buildings as he walked by them. He paused outside one, a cement building that looked unremarkable compared to the skyscrapers on the block. Katsuki stood outside for a moment longer, then sighed and walked through the front door. He took the elevator up to the fifth and tallest floor. At the end of the hall was a glass door with a name neatly printed in gold characters. 

Hora Annaisha

Quirk Counseling and Psychological Services 

There weren’t many psychologists in Japan in general, and even fewer that specialized in caring for Quirk-related disorders and trauma. But Dr. Hora was supposed to be one of the best, and Katsuki even knew a few heroes who went to her in the past. Katsuki wasn’t suffering from trauma in the traditional sense, but he figured that if anyone would be able to understand his specific issues, it’d be this lady. 

He stopped outside her door and took a long, slow breath. He wanted to come here at night to lessen the chance of being spotted on the street or in the waiting room. But now, he kind of regretted it. Katsuki was tired. He was so fucking tired and all he wanted to do was go to bed. 

But Bakugou Katsuki was not a quitter. So he pushed the door open and stepped inside. The waiting area was completely vacant and it was so quiet, he would have thought that the entire office was empty. 

The receptionist at the front desk broke the silence. She smiled at Katsuki as he approached the counter. After checking in, she said, “Welcome, Ground Zero. Doctor Hora is waiting for you.”

Katsuki grimaced from being called by his hero name, but he nodded nevertheless. He walked past the front desk, down a short hall, and found himself standing in an open doorway. 

A woman with graying hair sitting at a desk looked up. She adjusted her glasses and smiled at Katsuki.

“Ah, Mister Bakugou. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Being called Mister wasn’t preferable either, but it much more natural than his hero name. Katsuki stepped into the room and bowed. 

“Thank you for meeting with me.”

“Of course.” She gestured to one of the plush chairs across from her desk, “Now, how about you take a seat and we can get started.”

The Katsuki from high school would have been disgusted by the mere thought of needing someone else’s help. The Katsuki from a few years ago would never have agreed to needing or wanting therapy. The Katsuki from a few months ago would have loathed this unshakable, self-pity Katsuki found himself trapped in. But the current Katsuki was just… tired. He wore his past mistakes like a second-skin, a lead jacket, and all he wanted was to be able to breathe freely again.

So he gladly took Dr. Horas offer and sat across from her. He sank into her chair, shifted under her non-judgemental gaze, and took a deep breath. The rest came easier to him than expected.


Izuku adjusted his camera, making sure he could see himself and Honeydew, who was sitting on his desk. When he started recording, he smiled and lifted one of Honey’s paws to make her wave. 

“Hi, everyone! Big news!” 

Honeydew stared at Izuku, maybe wondering who he was talking to. 

He said, “Honey-D and I are moving! We’ve been looking at new apartments for a little while now and we found a winner.”

Izuku laughed, “And to prevent some future drama in the community, yes, I’m even moving in with my boyfriend! But we’re busy with the whole planning process at the moment, so I’d rather not introduce him now.”

Izuku never would have dreamed of telling people who his boyfriend was. But now, his life had changed so much. He was moving to a new prefecture, a new city, a new apartment. And Eijirou was such a huge part of his life now, Izuku knew he wouldn’t be able to keep Eijirou secret for much longer. 

He continued, “I’m not going to go into specifics now, but I’m also going to be quitting my job at the bookstore you’ve seen in some of my old vlogs.”

Izuku rubbed the back of his neck. “I know you all know I like to keep busy, so I’m still figuring out if I’m going to get a new job once I move. Speaking of,” Izuku picked up Honeydew and held her close to his face, “Honey and I won’t be making a video next week. Our move-in day is closer than we expected, so I just won’t have the time to make a video.”

Izuku smiled at the camera. “But I know how wonderfully supportive you guys are, and I’m so thankful for your patience with my disorganized ass.”

He set down Honey and waved to the camera. “Bye for now! And thank you for watching!”

Izuku reached over his desk and turned off the camera. When he was no longer being filmed, Izuku let out a breath. In a way, he was very much living in the calm before the storm. 

He and Eijirou were finished looking at new apartments. They found a reliable moving company to move their possessions from their respective current apartments. But for now, Izuku was mentally preparing himself for the long and arduous process of packing up everything in his apartment. He still had some time, but he certainly was not looking forward to it. 

Izuku let Honeydew down onto the floor and checked his phone. No texts from Ei. Izuku figured his boyfriend was busy with the moving process too. He leaned back in his chair and checked his email. Izuku’s inbox was usually a mess, folder upon folder of old emails he was too nervous to delete. But he was still able to sort the spam from the actual messages. And there was a new one from someone he didn’t recognize.

Izuku frowned and opened the email. 

Hi, Mr. Midoriya. 

Izuku felt a twist in his gut, like he was being messaged about a scam. But he continued reading.

I feel a little silly calling you that, but first and foremost, I want to say how much I respect you as a Youtuber and as a person. And calling you Deku just didn’t feel right.

Izuku straightened up in his chair. Was this a fan?

I’ve been debating on whether or not to message you, but I was just never sure how. I was too shy to leave a public comment on one of your videos, and I was too scared to DM you directly on Chirper. So… I hope you at least get this email. 

I just wanted to say that I’ve been watching your videos for some time now, and they always make me feel better. I suffer from anxiety, but your videos have helped me through the years. Seeing you now, it gives me hope for myself. I hope you don’t take offense, but I thought that you behaved in ways similar to me. One day, I hope I can overcome my anxiety as you have seemed to. 

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.

Izuku didn’t recognize the name at the end of the letter, but he assumed that was the point. This was an anonymous watcher. A complete stranger. So why did Izuku feel tears slipping down his cheeks? Why was he curled up with his knees pressed to his chest?

Why did he feel… touched? Was that the word?

No, nothing could describe how Izuku felt right now. Happy, honored, flattered, amazed. Izuku had no idea what to say, how to respond, but he was struck by a realization. 

He was helpful to this person, whoever they were, in the same way Eijirou helped him.  

Izuku tried to take in a breath to steady himself. He squeezed his eyes shut, letting more tears slip down his face. Izuku held his phone close to his chest, close to his heart.


Eijirou almost couldn’t believe it. Here he was, in the open doorway to his new apartment. His new, shared apartment. It didn’t feel right to walk inside without Izuku next to him, but Eijirou took on the responsibility of arriving early. His old apartment was much closer than Izuku’s was, and Eijirou’s moving van could finish the trip much sooner than his boyfriend’s. 

So Eijirou set foot inside his new home. And as excited as he was to finally live with Izuku, a part of him still felt bad for leaving Katsuki behind. He knew that Katsuki was moving out too, only a few months from now, and it was… hard to say goodbye. Eijirou left nearly all of their fancy, expensive furniture with Katsuki for his best friend to take, although he did put up a fight. 

“You’re living with your boyfriend now, Ei.” Katsuki had said, “You should at least take the couch and the dining table. They’re probably a lot better than his.”

Eijirou shook his head at the time and refused. “Then we’d have to find a way to get rid of Izuku’s furniture. That’d be a waste.”

They both knew that with Eijirou and Izuku’s combined income, they could afford new furniture, no problem. Eijirou also didn’t want Katsuki to go through the trouble of filling his new apartment when the penthouse had perfectly good stuff for him to take. 

Earlier this morning, before Eijirou left for good, he asked, “You’ll call me if you need help, right?”

Katsuki was silent for a moment, almost worryingly so, before his shoulders relaxed and he nodded. “Yeah, Ei. I’ll call.”

And those few words made Eijirou feel so much better. It was hard walking away from his best friend, even knowing some of the things he did to Izuku, but he felt at least a little more content about it. He didn’t know the name of Katsuki’s new therapist, but he could see the ways that Katsuki was growing. He was more open, more willing to talk. It was a relief, especially with how Katsuki would be living by himself now. 

Eijirou blinked when he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. 

Izuku: Hey! I’m running a little late, I almost missed my train

Izuku: Are you at the apartment yet?

Eijirou smiled, exhaling sharply through his nose. He leaned against the wall next to the front door.

Eijirou: I’m here. The moving guys will get here soon 

Eijirou: How’s Honeydew handling the move?

Izuku sent him a slightly blurry picture of what looked like a train floor, where a kennel was tucked between his feet. Eijirou could see a tuft of white fur poking through the front grating. 

Izuku: She’s not really used to train rides, but she’s handling it like a champ!

Eijirou laughed. 

Eijirou: Awww, tell her I can’t wait for you two to get here 

Izuku: Will do!

Eijirou looked up from his phone to his new, very blank and very empty, home. He could imagine the mismatched furniture taken from his and Izuku’s old homes, Honeydew’s toys in a basket under the window, and walls decorated in hero posters. But one of the most surreal things to picture was waking up to Izuku being next to him every day. 

There’d no longer be a time limit on how long they got to live together. There’d be no more “visiting”. Eijirou would be waking up to see Izuku next to him tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, and who knew how much longer after that. The novelty of sleeping next to his boyfriend everyday would probably wear off eventually, but for now, Eijirou couldn’t wait to experience it. 

A little while later, his moving van showed up. Eijirou was directing the movers on where to put his specific boxes when Izuku arrived. He was standing in the doorway with the biggest smile on his face, his dog cage hanging by his side. Time started to fly after that. 

They didn’t need to worry about Honeydew causing trouble, she refused to leave her kennel with so many strangers around her. Izuku’s moving van arrived and suddenly, they had double the boxes to unload. It was a relief when the movers left, but then, Eijirou and Izuku were faced with the monumental task of unpacking everything. 

Izuku tried picking up the nearest box, grunted, and immediately set it back down. 

“Ei, what’s in this one?”

Eijirou walked over, wishing he remembered to label all his boxes beforehand like Izuku did. He cut open the packing tape and peeked inside. “Oh, this is mostly workout gear and weights.” 

Eijirou squatted down, hefted the box up, and grinned at Izuku. “Don’t worry about all of the heavy stuff, babe. I got it.”

Eijirou moved the box to the far side of the living room, where he planned on setting up his weight rack. Behind him, Izuku laughed. 

“I’m so lucky I’m moving in with a big, strong pro hero, then.” He teased.

Eijirou snorted as he set down the box. Next to him, Honey poked her head out of her kennel and watched as Eijirou unpacked the box. When he finished, Eijirou gave her a head pat before getting back up. Izuku had moved to the kitchen, unpacking silverware and dishes. Izuku’s back was to him, but was it strange that Eijirou still enjoyed the view? 

The two of them had only started to fill their new home, and this probably should be a long, slow process, but Eijirou couldn’t help but feel butterflies in his stomach. This was finally happening. He was actively living with Izuku. His boyfriend and his longest-lasting partner yet. And it felt great.


Izuku grunted as he collapsed on the couch. His stomach growled and his feet ached. He could hear footsteps behind him and after a moment, Eijirou appeared and sat down next to him. He leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and groaned loudly. Last, but not least, Honeydew came up to Izuku and hopped up onto the couch. After a long, hard day of lounging in the sunlight and exploring her new home, Honey-D tucked herself against Izuku’s side and huffed softly. Izuku grinned and gave her a belly rub. They still had plenty of things to move around the apartment, but for now, Izuku wanted nothing more than to put it off until tomorrow.

“Hey, Ei.”

“Yeah?” 

“Do you want to order something for dinner?”

“Oh, hell yeah.”

Eijirou cracked one eye open and smiled. He leaned over, laying on the narrow couch next to Izuku to avoid smushing Honey. He stared at Izuku until he snorted and laughed.

“What are you doing?” Izuku asked. 

Eijirou tucked his face against Izuku’s neck, throwing an arm around his waist. “I’m just really happy right now.”

“Yeah? Even after you nearly shattered half our plates?”

Eijirou snorted, tickling Izuku’s neck. “I didn’t see them, okay?”

Izuku laughed, carding a hand through his boyfriend’s unkempt hair. Eijirou lifted his head to look Izuku in the eye.

He said, “Does a part of you still have a hard time believing that this really happened? We really moved in together?”

Izuku’s gaze softened. “Yeah, of course.”

He urged Eijirou closer until their lips touched. Eijirou’s lips were usually always either chapped or split, but today they felt especially soft. 

When they pulled away, Izuku continued, “But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


Only a few days after they finished moving in, Izuku got a phone call that nearly made him faint. The name Lemillion popped up on screen, waiting for his answer. Izuku fumbled with his phone, rushing to respond. 

“H-hello?”

“Hey, Deku!” 

Already, Izuku’s heartbeat started to pick up. A part of him was grateful that Eijirou had already gone to work, it let him pace freely around the apartment without embarrassing himself. Izuku recalled the last time he and Lemillion spoke. He still didn’t regret turning down the hero’s job offer, but that in no way made him less nervous.

“Lemillion? Is there something I can help you with?”

“Yeah! I hope you’re not busy, I saw your recent video about you moving.”

Izuku screamed internally, still not fully able to wrap his head around the idea that the number one hero in the country watched his videos.

“I-I’ve almost finished moving in. But is there a problem?”

Even without being able to see his face, Izuku could feel the pro hero’s cheerful greeting melt away. 

“Yes, remember when you offered to lend me your analytical skills? I think I might need you for something. I’m working on a case and I could use someone with a good eye for detail.”

Izuku felt his heart start to beat faster, and he swallowed. “Okay, I’ll help. When do you want me to come in?” 


The next day, Izuku walked into Lemillion’s agency, nervously clutching the strap of his laptop bag. He almost regretted declining Eijirou’s offer to go with him, but Izuku didn’t want him to needlessly skip a morning of work. 

The building was already tall and imposing from the outside, but the inside was a whole other beast. Polished, black floors, high windows, and people both in suits and costumes bustled about. It was even more nerve wracking to go up to the front desk and claim he had a meeting with Lemillion. ( It wasn’t a claim, he kept telling himself, he actually had an appointment with the hero.)

The elevator ride up to the top floor was both a brief reprieve, and a chance for his nerves to fully dig their claws into him.

Why was he so nervous? 

He met Lemillion before. He knew Lemillion liked him, even.  

But maybe that was why he was nervous. This wasn’t a friendly chat. This was work. Work that might be dangerous, that might involve sensitive or serious materials and information. And Izuku, someone with no official analytical training, was being asked by the number one hero to consult on a case. 

So that might be why he felt in over his head. 

The sleek, silver elevator doors opened almost too soon. Izuku found himself stepping out and into a wide hallway. All the way at the other end was a set of polished, steel doors. Izuku found himself approaching before he even realized he was moving. Just one foot in front of the other, until-

“Deku!” Lemillion said. 

His face appeared, phasing through the door at roughly eye-level. He grinned. “I heard footsteps, glad to see you!”

Izuku’s mouth opened and closed, both hands clutching onto his laptop bag for dear life. Lemillion seemed unbothered by his reaction. His face disappeared and a second later, the door was being opened for him. 

  “Can I get you something? Tea? Have you eaten anything yet?”

“N-no, no thank you…” Izuku said. The rest of his words died in his throat. 

Lemillion’s office was huge. There was a desk near the far wall to his left. Tall windows let in the early morning light, making the rest of the room almost hard to take in. There was a huge screen mounted on the right wall, along with a strange looking, circular table sitting in front of it. Lemillion walked over to said table, and Izuku followed. Up close, he noticed that while it looked mostly like a wide, metal tube, the top was covered in a sleek panel of black glass. Lemillion pressed his hand to the surface, and blue lights immediately shined from underneath his palm. 

Izuku’s mouth hung open as the surface of the table came to life, displaying news articles, video feeds, what looked like police reports, actual holographic charts of various statistics, and a variety of other documents. 

Izuku said, “This is amazing.”

“Glad you think so.” 

Lemillion’s smile faded a little. He stared at Izuku intently. “I’m about to ask for your help on a time-sensitive case. If you don’t think you can handle it, or if you have any doubts about your own skills, now is your chance to leave.”

Izuku stared back at him. He nodded. “I’m not leaving. You asked for my help, so I came.”

Lemillion beamed at him. “Good.”

The case, as Izuku soon learned, was both time-sensitive and being kept as far from the public eye as possible. And the reason why?

This was the first villain in a long time, maybe the first ever, who managed to successfully escape from Lemillion. And the number one hero, along with the police, were more than eager to catch a potentially very dangerous man. 

“I just don’t know how he did it.”

“What do you mean? Did you try fighting him?”

They had already spent a generous amount of time simply going over the nature of the case, with Izuku furiously typing all his notes on his laptop. 

Lemillion shook his head. “That’s the thing. I was alone with him: no police, no partners, and no sidekicks. And I barely remember how it happened.”

Lemillion frowned. “My memory is hazy. I just remember that he was faster than me.”

Izuku stopped typing to stare at the pro hero. A villain faster than Lemillion?

It couldn’t be possible. (But then again, people used to say that All Might was invincible too.)

He asked, “What do your analysts think?”

Lemillion spun the table display until he found a clip of what looked like grainy surveillance footage. He said, “They’re just as confused as I am. Here, look at this.”

He tapped the display, and the video played. The security feed showed Lemillion standing inside what looked like a bank. There was no sound, but he was speaking to a person in the corner of the room, where it was too dark to see clearly. 

Then Izuku blinked, and it was over. The bank was shrouded in some kind of dust or smoke, Lemillion was knocked to the ground, and the previously occupied corner of the room was now empty. All in the span of less than a second.

“This film isn’t edited?”

“Nope.”

“Did you feel a rush of wind indicating they were moving at superhuman speeds?”

“No, I don’t think so. I just felt this… this force that knocked me back.”

Izuku frowned, replaying the footage. “Weird. Have any of your analysts suggested a temporal-based Quirk? Maybe they manipulated time or space to escape? They’re really rare and are often misdiagnosed as speed Quirks or completely unrecognized.” 

Lemillion shook his head. “They already debunked that idea, mainly because there was no massive shift in the environment. No change in temperature, no blackout, and no burst of light that would signal someone using a massive amount of energy.”

Izuku studied the person in the corner. Years ago, there was a fairly well-known villain with a teleportation Quirk. Ground Zero and Eijirou fought him several times while in Yuuei. But if he remembered correctly, that villain relied on distinct, visible portals. Could this man have a teleportation Quirk with no identifying features? Was such a Quirk even possible?

Izuku and Lemillion offered ideas back and forth, and it almost reminded Izuku of being a teenager on Chirper. Tossing fan ideas and theories about his favorite heroes back and forth in threads and private messages. 

Eventually, Izuku came to an idea. “You said this man had no previous criminal record?”

“None that I, or the police, know of.”

Izuku hummed. “But if he was brave enough to try robbing a bank, he might have been brave enough to try something like this in the past.”

Izuku opened a new tab on his laptop and began searching on Moogle for any hero-related news about a villain getting away. Lemillion leaned over his shoulder and snorted softly. He tapped Izuku’s shoulder and gestured to his table. 

Oh, right. 

Searching on his massive display was like something out of a sci-fi movie. Izuku could ask an AI for results on far more elaborate questions than his laptop could manage. 

Izuku had years worth of experience combing through news articles, both real and exaggerated, to find what he was looking for. After nearly an hour of looking through potential articles and reports, Izuku found something interesting. 

Two months ago, Uravity faced an unidentified criminal that escaped. This man supposedly was able to manipulate matter, increasing the weight of everything around him to the point were not Uravity’s Quirk couldn’t lift anything. But without any witnesses, with very little property damage done, the press didn’t grill Uravity as harshly as they normally would have. A matter-manipulating Quirk was clearly different from whatever Lemillion encountered, but the six-second video accompanying the article piqued Izuku’s interest. 

It was, once again, grainy security footage. Most of the fight was outside of the camera’s range, but something caught Izuku’s eye. For a brief second, Izuku could see a man in jeans and a hoodie running across the corner of the screen. It could have been something wrong with the camera, but it certainly looked like a trail of grayish dust following after him. Just like in the room with Lemillion. 

And a second later, Izuku could see Uravity running after the man, and the video ended. 

“Huh.” He said. 

Izuku’s gut was telling him it was probably an Olympic-level stretch, but his mind reminded him that in events such as this, it was better to be safe than sorry. He slid the video over to Lemillion.

“What do you think of this? Worth looking into?”

Lemillion watched the video, skimmed the article, and looked up at Izuku.

“I’m Uravity right now.”

It took a few tries of contacting Uravity’s agency and manager before connecting directly to her. The large screen above the table burst to life, and Uravity appeared.

She asked, “Lemillion? Is something the matter?”

“Yeah, we’d just like to ask you a few questions about an incident a little while back.”

She frowned. “We?”

Lemillion stepped to the side, allowing Izuku to come into full focus. He gave her a small wave. 

“Hello, Uravity. I’m-”

“Deku!” She said, eyes wide. Uravity paused, quickly regaining her composure and taking off her visor to better see him. She cleared her throat.

“Sorry! It’s just, I’m a fan of your channel.” She said. 

A shock went down Izuku’s spine. He had almost forgotten how strangely popular he was in the hero community, even with Lemillion standing right next to him.

Uravity asked, “Is there something I can help you with?”

Izuku nodded. “Lemillion asked me to work on a case with him. I was just wondering about something.”

He put a finger on the table’s touch screen, bringing up the article about Uravity on the hologram projector. 

“Do you remember the day this happened on?”

Immediately, Uravity’s shoulders slumped. “Oh, yeah. I was chasing a guy who was in the middle of robbing a jewelry store.”

“And did you ever end up catching him?”

Uravity shook her head. “No. I’m still not sure how it happened, but he got away.”

A tiny flag started waving in the back of Izuku’s mind. He asked, “What do you mean by that? Do you remember anything odd happening?”

Again, Uravity frowned and shook her head. “That’s the weird thing, actually. I barely even remember fighting him. Even immediately after encountering him, I wasn’t sure what happened.”

Izuku and Lemillion shared a look. 

Grayish dust and vague memories; heroes like Midnight and Camie immediately came to mind, people with mind-altering or illusion-based Quirks.

“Do you remember a sort of dust or smokey substance from that day?”

Uravity hummed softly, brows furrowed. “Yeah, actually. It smelled really weird.”

“Like smoke?” Lemillion asked. “Or something acidic?”

Uravity blinked. “Um, yeah, actually. Did you encounter him too?”

Izuku instinctively reached for his laptop, furiously taking notes and recording his theories. In the back of his mind, he was also listening to Lemillion and Uravity talking. 

The first idea that came to mind was that this was a reality-warping villain with a Quirk powerful enough to manipulate certain aspects of his environment. However, with a power like that, Izuku doubted this criminal would remain so obscure. His second theory was derived from both Lemillion and Uravity’s reported vague memories. This might not be an insanely-powerful criminal, but maybe one with a cognitive Quirk. One that maked their opponent believe that they’ve been outmatched. 

Izuku turned his laptop around, presenting his notes to the two heroes. 

“If he’s been able to get away twice now, I don’t think confronting him directly will do much good.”

Izuku gestured to the clip of Lemillion’s fight. “A team of long-range fighters might be enough to combat his Quirk, though.”

Lemillion smiled softly. He clapped a hand on Izuku’s shoulder, nearly making his knees buckle. “See what I was talking about? That big brain of yours is amazing!”

Izuku blushed. “I could still be wrong, though.”

“But any lead is better than none!” Uravity added.

Izuku flushed an even deeper shade of red and looked down at his sneakers.

But after exchanging phone numbers with Uravity ( “Just in case!”, she said), Izuku packed his laptop into his bag. He politely, but pointedly, declined Lemillion’s attempts to pay him for his help.

“At least let me treat you to lunch one day!”

Izuku paused, biting his lip. Then he grinned. “All right.”

He was about to leave when Lemillion said, “You know, Deku, you shouldn’t discredit yourself. Your theory might end up helping more than one person down the line.”

Izuku sucked in a breath. It felt like something warm and heavy was filling up his chest, squeezing his lungs. But not in a bad way. 

“Thank you, Lemillion.”

“Please,” he said, “call me Togata.”


It was almost dinner time when Izuku got home. Eijirou was in their new kitchen, whistling loudly as he bustled about. He looked up when Izuku came through the door, and laughed when Honeydew abandoned him for her dad. 

“How’d it go with Lemillion?” Eijirou asked. 

“Good. Really good, actually.” 

Izuku set his laptop bag on the kitchen counter and stood on his toes to give Eijirou a kiss. After that, after seeing the proud gleam in Eijirou’s eyes, Izuku reached the threshold for his composure. He couldn’t help but break into a smile as he threw himself into Eijirou’s arms.

“I can’t believe I actually helped him!” 

Eijirou grunted, but easily right himself. He laughed as he spun Izuku around in a circle. 

When Eijirou set him down, mindful of Honeydew running around their feet, he asked, “So you liked helping Lemillion? What’d he have you do? Analytical work?”

Izuku nodded, his heart racing in his chest. “He believed my theory! He actually listened to me! And…”

Izuku hesitated for a second, “...He even said I might end up helping someone.”

Eijirou’s smile grew wider. He tucked a stray lock of hair behind Izuku’s ear. 

“Sounds like you like doing analytical work for heroes.”

He leaned down and pressed another kiss to Izuku’s cheek. But then, quieter now, he said, “You know, my agency could always use another analyst. Especially one with Lemillion’s stamp of approval.”

All the sound rushing in Izuku’s ears, his pounding heartbeat, Honeydew’s paws, and the sound of boiling water on the stove, felt like it was drowned out in a single moment. He stared at Eijirou.

“You don’t mean that,” Izuku said, “...do you?”

Eijirou shrugged, his crimson eyes soft like roses. 

“I’d never ask you to stop making videos, but if you like being a hero analyst, I want you to be happy.”

Izuku took half a step back, Eijirou grabbing his waist before he could walk into the stove. Ei chuckled softly. “Besides, I know you like to keep busy. You could always work part time, or do freelance work.” 

Izuku didn’t know what to say. 

A year ago, he was deathly afraid of the idea that any pro hero even knew who he was. Now? After meeting Eijirou and so many other heroes, and even getting two job offers?

He didn’t know what to expect anymore, but at least now, the future seemed much less scary.

Chapter Text

As Izuku and Eijirou became more and more settled into their new lives and their new homes, a lot of possessions in their apartments migrated from place to place. Honeydew’s doggy bed moved from next to the couch to under the window and then back to besides the couch. Izuku rearranged the kitchen utensils at least three times now just because no assortment felt “right” to him. And one of his highest priorities was organizing his books. He and Eijirou built their own IKEA bookcase to place in their shared bedroom (although that also was subject to change). 

Izuku first filled the shelves with his history books, old notebooks, and the miscellaneous other books he owned. But one day, something new caught Izuku’s eye. A pristine, yellow book spine among the well worn covers. A very familiar book spine. 

He walked up to the bookcase. Sure enough, there was a copy of the book Izuku wrote last year. He gently pulled it from it’s snug resting place and the bold, red title stared back at him.

Hero Analysis by Midoriya Izuku

Izuku smiled. The book started as a passion project and he had very little interest in getting rich off of it. It sold well enough upon release and had made a bit of money since, but it meant so much more to himself and his fanbase. It felt like so long ago, he completely forgot that Eijirou bought a copy too. Izuku opened the front cover, finding a note written in his own handwriting. 

Dear Red Riot, 

Thank you so much for your note, I was so surprised to find it! I’m so happy to hear you like my content, and I hope I can continue to make you smile!

Sincerely,

Midoriya Izuku 

Wow. 

Izuku almost felt like he was having an out of body experience, reading something so deeply familiar and yet foreign to him. At the time he wrote this note, he and Eijirou were essentially strangers. He even called Ei by his hero name. 

If only the Izuku from the past could know exactly how much he made Eijirou smile now. Izuku thumbed through the book, finding some of the pages dog-eared, stained, or slightly torn. His eyes grew wider and wider, finding that the signs of Eijirou’s touch consistent throughout the entire book. He got the last chapter, where the last dog-eared page was.All this time, he never knew that Eijirou actually read his book. Maybe he finished before they even started dating. 

A faint memory immediately started flashing in the back of Izuku’s mind. He quickly stuffed the book back into its rightful place on the bookshelf and pulled out his second most recent notebook. Right where he left it months and months ago, was a folded piece of lined paper. Izuku pulled it out and unfolded it.

Hi, Midoriya Deku!

I wanted to thank you so much for doing this for me. I’m a really big fan of yours! I wish I could tell you how much your videos mean to me. You’re such a smart guy, and I love watching your stuff at the end of a long day. And I’m sorry I couldn’t go to your book signing. Work kept me busy, but if you’re ever in Tokyo, give my agency a call! I’d love to meet you in person. 

You make me smile almost every day, so please keep up the awesome work!

-Red Riot

(Kirishima Eijirou)

Oh, wow… 

Izuku wondered if Eijirou even remembered writing this note. So much had changed since, in ways neither of them were able to predict. 

Izuku heard Honeydew bark, followed by the sound of the front door opening.

“Babe! I’m home!” 

Izuku smiled, taking his notebook and Eijirou’s book with him. He found Eijirou taking his shoes off by the door while simultaneously trying to give Honeydew head pats. 

“Ei, guess what I found today.”


“Are you ready?” Izuku asked.

Eijirou laughed. “Yeah, of course I’m ready.”

“Okay, good.” 

Izuku was sitting at his desk with Eijirou out of view for the moment. He checked the time. Just one minute until his livestream. Izuku had been advertising it all week, promising something big. The YouTube chat was already buzzing with activity, full of fans speculating what he had in store. 

Izuku counted down, more for Eijirou’s benefit than his own. “Three, two, one.”

He checked to make sure everything was running smoothly, then smiled at the camera. 

“Hey, everyone! Midoriya Deku here! How’s everyone’s day been?”

He got a wave of responses, but the chat moved too fast to read any one in particular. 

“Okay, now that I finally finished moving in and everything, thank you to everyone who was so patient with me during this time.”

Izuku’s smile got wider. “I really want to get to the point, so I’ll show you all the special guest with me…”

Izuku leaned to the side, where Eijirou was waiting with Honeydew in his arms. Izuku took her and reappeared on camera. “It’s Honey-bunny! Say hi, Honey!”

He waved one of her small paws at the camera. She yawned, disinterested in her daddy’s nonsense. The chat lit up with responses again, although Izuku could see quite a few question marks. He managed to keep a semi-straight face for another half-second before laughing. 

“I’m kidding! Although, my particularly observant fellow nerds may be wondering who handed me Honeydew in the first place.” 

Izuku set his dog on his desk and gestured to where Ei was sitting. “I’m finally going to introduce you guys to my boyfriend!”

Eijirou slid into frame, rolling chair bashing into Izuku’s and sending him careening a few inches off screen. Izuku yelped and Honeydew barked.

“EI!”

“Sorry! Sorry!”

Eijirou grabbed his chair and easily pulled Izuku back into position. 

“I just got excited,” he added. 

Izuku snorted and put his hand on Ei’s arm. He looked up at the camera, a shock going through him from how fast the chat was moving. 

“So it looks like some of you recognize my boyfriend.” He said. 

“Hi,” Eijirou said. He waved to the camera, “It’s me, Red Riot. This is what I look like when I’m not on patrol!”

Today, Ei chose to wore a red tank top to combat the summer heat, and a white headband. His hair was undone and cascaded down his shoulders. Izuku slowed down the chat, taking a cursory glance at the comments flowing in. 

CREATI-on: W H O T

Miss_Weach: aw how’d u two meet?

GangGangOrca: omg wait is this real…???

Cereal_Monster51: u two r such a cute couple omg!! 

Izuku said, “We expect this to cause some kind of media storm in the next few hours or days, but we thought we’d clear a few things up before any rumors start.”

Eijirou spoke up, “Yeah, this isn’t a publicity stunt or anything. We’re actually a couple, and we live together!”

He continued, smile suddenly fading, “I know I have a lot of fans out there that might be disappointed or confused, but please understand one thing.”

He glanced at Izuku for just a moment. “I won’t tolerate anyone trying to insult Izuku just because you’re jealous or angry. No, I can’t ‘do better’, nor do I want to. Izuku is an amazing person who I genuinely want to be with, so let’s just end that drama before it starts.”

Izuku stared at Eijirou, mouth open. They discussed what they were going to say beforehand, multiple times, but Eijirou never mentioned this. (Although, now that he thought about it… hero stans could be absolutely cutthroat.)

The chat exploded yet again, alight with heart emojis and comments entirely in capslock. 

Eijirou nudged Izuku and his smile returned. He said, “Want to tell them the other thing now?”

“O-oh, right!” Izuku looked back at the camera, petting Honeydew absentmindedly. “There’s a big change coming to my channel as well.”

Izuku took a deep breath. “Some of you have been following my channel for years, supporting me no matter what I did. For that, I can’t thank you enough and I hope you all can understand this. From now on, I’ll be treating this channel as more of a hobby than my job.”

He clarified, “That doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting videos, though! I love making videos, but they’ll just be different. I’ll probably end up making Me Time videos as the primary sort of thing on my channel now, because I’ve been offered a job as a hero analyst for a major agency!”

“From now on, Izuku and I are boyfriends and coworkers!” Eijirou added.

It took a while just for the chat to calm down, but when it did, Izuku and Eijirou answered whatever questions they could (that also weren’t immensely invasive). But when the livestream was good and done, Izuku let out a sigh of relief. He didn't realize how fast his heart was beating until he was no longer being recorded.

“We really did it.”

Ei said, “Yeah…We really did. No going back now.”

Izuku managed a smile. “Good.”


They became the latest hero gossip overnight. News stations, magazines, radio shows, and newspapers all talked about them. It got to the point where Izuku agreed to postpone the date he’d start working with Ei until all the hype died down. But Izuku would have to lie if he said he didn’t know why this was all happening. To the public at large, Midoriya “Deku” Izuku was a nobody until now. Just another hero YouTuber and fanatic. So how on Earth did he manage to get the hero Red Riot?

Eijirou went on record during an interview that they’d already known each other for a while, and their relationship came to them slowly, but naturally. Of course, this left a number of fans outraged. Midoriya Deku was a slightly portly, utterly unremarkable nerd. Why would their favorite hero waste his time with Deku of all people?

However, it didn’t bother Izuku as much as he thought it would. Sure, it didn’t feel great to have his face and body and livelihood and intelligence and fashion sense and his dog of all things to be criticised so harshly, but it didn’t necessarily hurt either. Maybe it was because he’d heard it all before. It wasn’t like these people were saying anything new or creative. 

But what Izuku didn’t expect was… everything else. 

He went from almost three million subscribers to nearly eight million in less than a month. And the number was still going up. From what he could tell, people were treating him like an “undiscovered gem”. The next Big ThingTM, spreading beyond the inner circles of hero fan culture to the general mainstream media. And all this happened despite his proclamation that his channel was going to become only a hobby. Apparently, even that didn’t bother people. Lots of them subscribed solely for his Me Time videos and personality. It was beyond anything he ever hoped for. 

But despite all the drama and excitement, Izuku still found the time to talk to a few acquaintances. 

Uravity: Omg! You and Kiri looked so cute together in your livestream! Congrats on going public! (/◕ヮ◕)/

Izuku: Aw, thanks so much!

Shouto: Saw your livestream. Congratulations on coming out.

Shouto: If any news reporters try to follow you home and Kirishima is busy, just let me know. I’ll freeze them for you.

Izuku couldn’t actually tell if Shouto was joking or not, but he thanked him regardless. 

 

Togata: Took some time to draw him out, but look who I caught!

Lemillio sent a link to a news article about how he captured a villain with a highly unpredictable Quirk. It was the man that escaped Lemillion a few weeks ago. 

Togata: Also, forgot to say this sooner but congrats on your relationship and your new job! 

Togata: It took a while, but I knew you’d take up some kind of hero work eventually ;P

 

Izuku had, of course, also been keeping in contact with his best friend.

“So, you’re at eight million followers? Congrats.” Hitoshi said over the phone.

“Thanks, Toshi.”

“I always knew you’d become big one day. It’d just had to take a while for all the idiots out there to realize how great you are.”

“Toshi!” Izuku said, half-scolding but half-laughing. 

“It’s true though.”

Hitoshi paused, going silent for a few seconds. “Izuku?”

“Yeah?”

“This will probably sound weird, but I’m proud of you, you know? You’ve changed so much, sometimes I can’t believe it.”

Izuku chuckled softly. There was a warm, heavy weight in his chest, but not necessarily unpleasant.

“Thank you, Hitoshi. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Don’t lie,” his best friend said, although there was no bite to his words. “You might’ve had help, but it was all on you, Izuku. Don’t forget that.”

“I won’t. Thanks again, Toshi.”

“Of course."

 


A week before Izuku was supposed to start his new job, Eijirou asked him if he wanted to go out to dinner some night. Izuku said sure. 

Five days before Izuku was supposed to started his new job, Eijirou said he booked a reservation at a nice restaurant for them. Izuku said that was fine. 

The night of their dinner date was the day before Izuku was supposed to start his new job… and he sort of forgot. It just happened to slip his mind! He was dealing with so many things at once, and Eijirou didn’t bring it up often enough for him to remember. Eijirou said he could dress casually, but that only made it more surprising to see the limousine waiting for them outside their apartment building. 

“Ei? Where exactly did you book dinnner?”

“You’ll see.” He held the door open for Izuku and gestured for him to get inside. 

Izuku slid inside the limo, illuminated by white and blue lights. Eijirou got in besides him and gave the driver the go-ahead to get started. 

“Where are we going?”

“Somewhere fun.”

Izuku looked at Eijirou strangely. “And what’s with the limo?”

“I just felt like treating you tonight.”

“...Okay.”

It turned out, Izuku didn’t have to wait very long. The limo came to a stop in a vaguely familiar shopping district. Izuku’s brows furrowed. Why did it feel like he’d been here before?

“Come on,” Eijirou said. He was grinning so widely, his teeth gleamed in the limo’s lights. Izuku got out after Eijirou, and suddenly understood where they were. On the other side of the street was a very familiar American-themed restaurant.

Eijirou was nearly buzzing with excitement. “Remember coming here?”

Izuku nodded. “I got drunk here on our… second date, I think?”

That was the date where Eijirou let Izuku crash at his place. Where it lead to him seeing Kacchan in person, and learning that his childhood bully and boyfriend lived together. Not a particularly fun memory.

Eijirou lead him across the street. “I figured, we’re so much closer now than we were before. Why not give this place another go?”

He held the door open for Izuku, but waited. He made no other gesture for Izuku to go inside. Izuku glanced from Eijirou to the inside of the restaurant. Then he walked in. They were seated by the window so they could watch the sun set outside. Eijirou raised his glass of beer with a small smile. 

“To us, he said.”

Izuku raised his own drink. 

“To us,” he agreed. 

Chapter Text

Izuku took a deep breath. It was finally happening. He walked into Eijirou’s agency side by side with him. They took the elevator up, and Eijirou guided Izuku past offices and cubicles to a room near the end of the hall. His name was etched into a silver placard on the door. Izuku couldn’t ignore the butterflies that swirled in his stomach as Eijirou unlocked the door and held it open for him. 

“Ta-da! Your new office!” He said with a grand, sweeping gesture.

The room was small, but welcoming. There was a desk and several bookcases just waiting to be filled. A TV screen was mounted in the corner, probably to watch news reports. And the tall windows showed off a gorgeous view of the city. 

“What do you think?” Eijirou asked.

Izuku spun in a circle slowly, taking it all in. 

“I love it…”

His breath quickened. He stopped in front of Eijirou, taking half a second to check that the door was closed, before throwing himself into Ei’s arms. 

“I really love it!”

Eijirou chuckled, hugging Izuku back and lifting him off his feet. 

Then, there was a loud knock on the door. Izuku pulled away just as it opened. 

Ground Zero, dressed in his costume, poked his head in. He looked entirely unfazed to see Izuku, eyes only on Eijirou.

“Hey, Ei. Ya gotta suit up. We’re starting patrol early today.”

“Shit, almost forgot.”

Eijirou looked at Izuku. “The head of the analyst department will stop by soon to show you the ropes. Think you can handle it?”

Izuku nodded, determined. 

“Great!”

Eijirou left the room, slipping by Ground Zero, and was gone. But the other hero remained. 

“Can I help you with something?” Izuku asked. 

Ground Zero entered the room fully, revealing a tablet tucked in one of his arms. “There’s a case I want you working on right away, okay?”

He held out the tablet, and Izuku took it. He thumbed through the available date, ready to become fully immersed in his work, when someone cleared their throat. He looked up, surprised that Ground Zero was still there. 

Neither spoke for a moment, only staring at each other. It wasn’t the hostile prey and predator atmosphere from their childhood. Nor was it the utter reversal from when Ground Zero nearly begged for Izuku’s help. It was somewhere in the middle. Izuku was not afraid of this man anymore, but being together still felt tense. Awkward, even.

Ground Zero shifted his weight from foot to foot, looking like he wanted to say something, but then just sighed and turned back around. Izuku thought he’d leave, but Ground Zero paused in the doorway.

He looked over his shoulder. He finally said, “Welcome to the team, Midoriya. Hope the rest of our staff can keep up with you.”

Then he was gone too. 

And there was something truly, utterly genuine about Ground Zero’s words that made the corners of Izuku’s mouth quirk upward just a little bit.  


Izuku and Eijirou had waited weeks for this moment. (Well, really it was Eijirou who had been the one waiting. Izuku more or less only came along to indulge him.) But Izuku stared, hands covering his mouth in awe, at the little doggy in front of them. She was small, but stout. Her legs and body were stocky and robust. The puppy yipped excitedly, and Honeydew barked back. 

It all started a few weeks ago, shortly after Izuku started doing analytical work, when Eijirou ran into the kitchen while Izuku was cooking dinner. 

“Babe! Look at this!” He said. 

He held out his phone for Izuku to take. On the screen was the adoption info for a pitbull puppy. Izuku looked from Eijirou to the adoption page, a frown forming on his lips.

“Eijirou…”

Pitbulls were big dogs. Bigger than the typical breeds found in crowded cities. And not only was it going to get bigger, but even as a puppy it was probably already around Honeydew’s size.

Eijirou held his hands up. “No, Izuku, please just listen.” 

So Izuku did.

“It’s going to be a big dog, sure, but who can you think of that’ll adopt her instead of us? She’s just a puppy, but who knows how long she’s going to spend in that shelter!”

Eijirou stuck out his bottom lip and laced his hands in front of his chest, pleading. “Can we just meet her? If she doesn’t feel like a good fit for us, I’ll drop this. I promise!”

And Izuku caved. He and Eijirou had already visited the shelter to meet the puppy. She was admittedly very cute and sweet, but had a lot of energy. A good match for Ei, but Izuku was scared that she’d accidentally hurt Honeydew if they met. And deep down, he doubted he’d ever like such a boisterous dog. One of the reasons why he and Honeydew clicked so well was because they both liked their quiet time, and neither were particularly high-energy.

He thought he was going to stay on the fence about this, regardless of how much Eijirou liked the puppy. But there was a third member of their household whose opinion also mattered: Honeydew, Izuku’s eleven year old senior dog.

After bringing Honeydew to the shelter for a meet-and-greet, there was something blossoming in Izuku’s chest. Something warm. Something that felt like want. 

“Eijirou...look...” 

The puppy had quieted down a bit since spotting Honeydew, although her tail was still wagging. She started to sniff Izuku’s dog, and Honey sniffed her in return. 

“They like each other!” Eijirou said, whispering but still excited.

“Wait…”

The puppy stretched her front legs out in front of her, bowing with her tail still wagging. Honeydew pawed at her, her own tail starting to wag as well. 

As Izuku watched the two of them interact, his remaining doubts were beginning to dissolve. Honeydew typically preferred the company of people (i.e. him) over that of other doggies. She was so attuned and accustomed to him that Honeydew even refused to get to know Eijirou at first. But this puppy, somehow, was convincing her to play.

Izuku looked up, finding Eijirou’s eyes darting around the room as he followed their every move. Izuku went back to watching the two dogs interact. Already, he knew what his final decision was going to be. 

After signing all the papers that needed to be signed, Izuku cradled the small doggy kennel in his arms on the train ride back home. He rested the head against the kennel, listening to their new puppy huff and move about. 

When they got back to their apartment, Izuku set the kennel down in the corner of the living room. That was when his emotions finally got to him, and he finally started crying. He sat on the floor near the kennel, unable to take his eyes off his new little friend. He heard Eijirou’s footsteps behind him, and his boyfriend came to sit down next to him. Ei wrapped an arm around his shoulders, urging him closer. 

“Hey, babe, don’t cry.” He pressed a kiss to Izuku’s temple and chuckled softly, “I didn’t think you’d like her this much.”

Honeydew pawed at Izuku’s side, and he lifted her onto his lap. Their new puppy poked her head out of the open kennel. Eijirou held his hand out, luring her closer, and gave her a scratch behind the ear. 

“What should we name her?” Izuku asked. 

Eijirou laughed as their new puppy nipped at his hardened fingers. “I like the name Scarlet. What do you think?”

“Scarlet.” Izuku repeated. Another word for red. He smiled and pet their new pup. He leaned against Eijirou’s side, and Ei moved his arm to wrap around Izuku’s waist.

“Welcome home, Scarlet,” he said, “The four of us are going on a long life journey together.”