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Dogged Love

Chapter Text

Izuku had never seen a pet Hybrid in a muzzle before.

The dog Hybrid watched him with burning red eyes from the large kennel in the corner of the room and crossed his arms over a pillow on the end of the couch. A metal, wire muzzle had been fitted over his face with a bar to bite and the leather straps caught in his choppy, blond hair.

Izuku wasn’t quite sure of the dog hybrid’s specific breed, but the pointed ears on the top of his head covered in dark, reddish fur and his long, curled tail in the same color had to be from a spitz of some sort. Large paws poked out from his jeans, forming dog’s feet, also in the reddish fur with black pads. His red leather collar had two shining tags hanging from it, and it was hooked to a chain that went through the bars and had been wrapped around a hook on the wall out of arm’s reach of the Hybrid.

“Is all that necessary?” Izuku asked before he could stop himself.

Domestic Animal Hybrids were kept as pets, but they were still sentient beings. Treating them like actual animals was an archaic practice from before humans and Hybrids cohabited.

The owner looked up from signing the form on Izuku’s clipboard and followed his gaze to the dog Hybrid. “It is when there’s company over and he knows why.”

The man’s voice raised into a half shout by the end of the sentence and the dog Hybrid rolled his eyes and turned away. He shoved the pillow over his head and curled into the couch they’d shoved in the kennel, facing the back cushions with his tail curled over his thigh.

“May I ask?” Izuku took back his clipboard, still staring at the Hybrid’s firm back. The dog wore a tank top and his arms were muscled like an athlete. “It seems so excessive.”

“He bites,” the man said, crossing his arms. He scowled and rubbed a spot on the bridge of his nose. His eyes said there was more to the story but he held his tongue. “Officially, that’s the reason. He’s legally required to be restrained when there are people other than the family in the house.”

Izuku clutched the clipboard of finished paperwork to his chest. A Hybrid’s relationship with their animal half’s nature was a scary thing. He’d seen plenty of dog Hybrids drop whatever they were doing to give chase to a small animal or maim someone who threatened their owner.

However, the law typically did not hold Hybrids accountable for their actions due to the controversy surrounding whether or not a species should be punished for acting as nature intended. The Pet system was created as sort of a middle ground, with animal Hybrids only legally allowed outside of a registered pet shelter as long as they were matched with an owner.

Anything they did wrong became their human master’s problem as far as the law was concerned.

“What a waste of money,” the owner grumbled under his breath.

Izuku shouldn’t ask, but he did: “Your pet?”

“I bought him as a puppy to train for competition, but after he came of age, he bit a judge the first time he was on the floor. The man had to go to the hospital for stitches and the brat got himself disqualified before he could even start.

“Do you know the worst part of it all?” The owner asked. Izuku shook his head and the owner threw his hand out toward the cage. “He’s a picture perfect Kai Ken Hybrid. The breed by itself is already rare, and I’ve got a flawless one that refuses to behave for five minutes.”

“I see,” Izuku said. A Kai Ken. He’d only seen a dog of that breed before once in person and they were an amazing little animal. That dog’s owner at the time had shared that the dog breed was fiercely loyal and they loved theirs to bits. It was so odd to see an owner look at his own pet, even if it was a Hybrid, with so much disgust. “I guess I’ll leave then, so you can let him back out.”

“So we’re done?” The owner asked.

“Yes, everything is signed and good to go,” Izuku said. He bowed his head and put the clipboard away in his pack. “I’ll turn everything in and the construction work for the addition to your home should be started in two days.”

“Wonderful,” the owner said. “I look forward to it.”

Izuku shot the Hybrid one last look before he excused himself and went out the front door. His heart felt heavy, but instead of thinking of his next job for the day, he made the mistake of looking back to the house’s window.

“He left the Hybrid in the kennel?” Uraraka said, popping her spoon of ice cream in her mouth. She and Izuku sat across from each other in the small cafe. “Are you sure?”

“At first I thought he was going to leave the room to get something, but I watched from the window for fifteen minutes and he never came back,” Izuku said, his stomach twisting. There was no reason to keep his pet locked up when he was the only one there unless he was scared of the dog. But dogs just didn’t attack their owners. They weren’t programmed for that, so if this one was, Izuku didn’t want to know the reason why. “I’m worried.”

“You might be overthinking it,” Uraraka said. “Maybe he had another guest coming after you. If he’s legally obligated to have the dog locked up, it must be a hassle to let him out and in all the time.”

“That could be.” Izuku didn’t think that was the case though. He bit his lip. The desire to go back and check on the pet Hybrid burned in his chest. He looked up at Uraraka and tapped the side of his drink. “Hey, I know I’m only helping out part time while your employee is sick, but do you think I could help on that man’s construction project?”

Uraraka hummed under her breath and ate another bite of ice cream. “Are you going to come whether I say yes or no?”

Izuku shrugged with a shy smile and Uraraka got the message.

“You’re volunteering,” Uraraka said. She flicked a sprinkle at his face and huffed. “So don’t expect a paycheck out of me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Izuku said, grinning back at his best friend.

The dog Hybrid never left the kennel.

Izuku had been volunteering with Uraraka’s construction team for three weeks and he kept an eye on the Hybrid at every opportunity. When Uraraka’s teams left, Izuku hid on the property to watch through the window. Even hours into the night when there was no company to be found, the dog stayed in the kennel.

He also hadn’t noticed it on the first visit, but there was a small portable toilet in the corner that the dog kept covered with old cushions so he wouldn’t have to look at it.

Legally, the owner hadn’t done anything wrong that he could report, but no animal or person deserved this.

Izuku had to figure out how he could help that Hybrid.

On his fifth trip to the house, while Uraraka’s construction team worked hard on the home addition in the back, Izuku slipped inside from the work site and held his breath as he crept through the house.

He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he did have some questions he wanted answered.

The dog Hybrid growled when Izuku approached, but the muzzle prevented him from barking or talking. The dog’s glare felt like it was digging into his soul and he squatted near the bars.

“Do you really bite people?” Izuku blurted. “Bad enough for this?”

The Hybrid kicked the bar of the cage and rolled over, putting the pillow back of his head. He heard the loud snort of air through his nose.

“Is that a yes?” Izuku winced and crossed his arms over his knees. “Because I noticed you’re never let out of this kennel. At all. And that doesn’t sound like part of the legal lockup, so I wondered if your owner was lying.”

The Hybrid lifted the pillow, turning his head enough to stare at Izuku with a curious expression.

“Is he lying?”

The dog Hybrid made a “so-so” motion with his hand.

“Are you legally required to be locked up around company for biting?” Izuku asked.

The dog pulled the pillow to his chest and squeezed it, nodding after a moment.

“Oh,” Izuku said. He swallowed and but his hand on the back of his neck. “Does he ever let you out around just the family?”

The Hybrid shook his head.

“Because you’ll bite him?” Izuku asked, taking a guess.

The dog shook his head, narrowing his brows together.

“Then why—”

“What are you doing in here?” The dog’s owner asked, walking into the room. He held a plate of kibble and walked toward the kennel. He stuck it on a shelf and pushed it through the small slot onto the shelf on the Hybrid’s side of the bars. “Did you get lost?”

“Sorry!” Izuku said, jumping up. He prayed the owner hadn’t heard any of his conversation with the quiet dog. “I just wanted to see your pet again. I didn’t mean any harm.”

“He is only good for looking at these days,” the owner said. He crossed his arm and stared the dog down. the Hybrid matched his gaze, refusing to budge. “I wouldn’t stand so close to the cage, though.”

Izuku braced himself and gathered his courage. “Forgive me for saying, but you don’t seem to like your pet very much.”

“I don’t,” the owner said. “He’s more trouble than he’s worth, but I can’t afford to get rid of him after all the money I invested.”

“Theoretically, if someone wanted to buy him then, you’d sell?” Izuku asked, his heart pounding in his chest. He had thought about getting a pet once or twice, but this wasn’t how he had expected to do it. “To get your investment back, I mean.”

“It’s cute that you’re interested, but you can’t afford him on a construction worker’s salary,” the owner said.

Izuku believed that, but he wanted a concrete number to be sure. “How much?”

The man snorted and pulled a pad of stationary out of a side table drawer and scribbled down a number. He ripped it off the pad and handed it to Izuku.

The amount that stared back at him was more than he could make between his own job and helping part time with Uraraka. He’d never be able to save that much up in a lump sum in time to actually help the Hybrid. Izuku would have to work for years to get that much money.

Izuku clutched the paper tighter, crinkling it.

He didn’t have that much money, but he knew someone who did.

“So if someone offered this much for your dog, you’d sell?” Izuku asked, just to clarify. The dog Hybrid in the kennel sat up higher, shooting a confused look between Izuku and his owner. “Is that what you’re saying?”

“In a heartbeat.”

“Todoroki!’ Izuku shouted after his friend opened the door. He clasped his hands together and bowed his head as far as it would go. “I need a favor.”

“Of course,” Todoroki said. He put his hand on Izuku’s shoulder and squeezed. “Are you okay?”

“I know this is awful of me to ask but I promise to pay you back every penny as long as it takes but I need to borrow some money,” Izuku said, barely stopping to breathe between the words. He shoved the paper in his friend’s face and pointed at the owner’s scribble. “This much. Please, I know it’s a lot, but it’s important.”

“Slow down,” Todoroki said. He took the paper from Izuku and looked it over, staring at the number that could be the difference in that Hybrid staying trapped in a kennel for the rest of his life or getting some semblance of freedom until Izuku could find him a proper home. Todoroki looked up from the sheet and said, “Start from the beginning.”

Izuku breathed out and followed him inside the home to explain.

“I believe this is the amount you asked for,” Izuku said, slightly out of breath. He’d arrived at the man’s door after a brisk run from the train station with the case of money clutched to his chest. He handed it over and licked his lip. “For the dog.”

The owner stared at Izuku for a full minute before he shook his head and took the briefcase inside to the sitting room. The dog Hybrid in the corner kennel sat straight up as his owner cursed when he saw the money in the case. His ears were forward and alert while his tail flicked back and forth as he hugged his pillow.

“I’ll be damned,” the man said. He picked up a stack and counted. He looked at Izuku over his shoulder and then back at his dog. He put the money back in the case and crossed his arms and closed his eyes. The owner shook his head. “You know what? I was going to ask, but I don’t want to know where you got this money.”

He left the case on the table and said, “Wait right there.”

Izuku crossed his arms and stood next to the case, his breath heavy. The dog stared at him and Izuku hoped he made the right decision. Izuku hadn’t asked the Hybrid what he wanted or really learned anything about the situation. He was butting in where he didn’t belong.

“Meddling,” as Uraraka and Iida liked to call it.

Izuku looked at the dog Hybrid again, paying close attention to the small indents the muzzle left imprinted on his cheek when it shifted and the toilet he knew was hidden in the corner. The conditions were legal and his needs were technically met, but Izuku couldn’t leave things alone and he renewed his conviction.

His apartment had to be better than a kennel in the corner, didn’t it?

The owner returned after five minutes with a slim black folder with gold embossing on the edges. Izuku watched him open it and saw thick pieces of paper that looked like official registration documents.

“Katsuki” was written at the top of the first page on the line for the Hybrid’s name.

Izuku held his breath, a wave of shame washing over him. He’d come here to purchase a pet but had never asked for the dog Hybrid’s name. Izuku would have to make it up to Katsuki later for overlooking something so important.

The owner signed a line on the third page and closed the folder. He handed it to Izuku and got up. “You’ll need to take that to the registration office downtown with the Hybrid to finish the transfer, but as far as I’m concerned, congratulations: You just bought a pet.”

The man unhooked the chain from the wall and pulled a set of keys out of his pocket. He opened the kennel and the dog sat on the couch, staring forward in disbelief. Katsuki didn’t make a move for the open door, clutching the cushion tight to his chest so hard his claws ripped through the fabric.

“Come on,” the man said to Izuku. He took uneasy steps over and the man dropped the end of the chain leash in his palm. “The dog is all yours. I’ll throw in the muzzle and leash for free, but good luck finding a proper kennel.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage,” Izuku whispered. He clutched the chain tight in his hand, holding the packet of papers to his chest. Izuku looked at the dog Hybrid still frozen in place. He forced as much gentleness into his voice as he could. “We should go now, Katsuki.”

“Get out of here, pup,” the owners said. He smacked the bars once before he stepped back and put his hands in his pockets. “Go ruin someone else’s life for a while.”

The dog growled in his throat and stood, stomping over to his new owner. Izuku tilted his head back to look the dog in the eyes. Katsuki was taller than him. He swallowed and clutched the end of the leash to his chest, knocking it against the folder of papers. The Hybrid walked past without a sound, heading for the open front door.

Katsuki reached behind without looking back and grabbed Izuku by the side of his shirt. He yanked him forward, dragging Izuku every step of the way to the house’s entrance with ease. The owner laughed and shouted “good luck” before he slammed the door shut after them.

Izuku tripped on the concrete as the Hybrid continued to stomp toward the main gate of the property, and in an unnatural swell of concern for his personal safety, he hoped that muzzle worked better than the leash.

Chapter Text

Katsuki had been sold to a stalker.

The human thought he’d been clever, but Katsuki noticed the man creeping around the windows for the past month. He didn’t know what the human wanted, but he’d been shocked when the guy braved sneaking into the house after watching from a distance.

Though of all the things Katsuki had imagined the human could have wanted, getting bought hadn’t been on the list—it didn’t seem possible considering Katsuki’s value and what that guy did for a living.

The human hadn’t deigned to say anything about his decision after the purchase was made either. He had barely said a peep to Katsuki while they walked to the train station and made their way to the registration office.

“Alright, Mr. Midoriya, I just called and reconfirmed with the original owner that the transfer is legitimate. I apologize for the second check, but with a hybrid of this rarity and value, it’s important to make sure everything is properly investigated,” the assistant from the registration office said. Katsuki crossed his arms, sneering at the pets that stared as they walked by. His new human fumbled with a paper he was asked to sign, his face twisting as the woman continued to speak. “You’re quite the lucky one. Katsuki here is one of only ten pure Kai Ken hybrids in the country, two of which are his parents.”

“Ten?” the human asked, his jaw dropping. “Only ten?”

That moron didn’t have a fucking clue what he just bought, did he?

As if Katsuki’s day couldn’t get any worse.

“Make sure you keep those forms secure and in a safe place. We have them on record as well, but it’s always good to make sure the originals are kept in good order,” the assistant said. She typed a few pages and he heard the buzz of the printer. The human twisted the end of Katsuki’s leash in his hand as they waited and he put his ears back. The assistant pulled up the stack and put it across the desk. “Here’s a copy of his health records, his incident reports, and his list of his restrictions. A social worker could stop by at any time to make sure those are being met, so make sure you’re following the rules.”

Katsuki looked over the human’s shoulder, unable to stop snickering as the human’s eyes widened and his face paled as he read the “incident report” listing the worst of his offenses that led him to being confined to a muzzle.

The human nodded after reading the restrictions list. His hands trembled as he stuck the sheets in the registration folder.

“Do you have any questions?” she asked.

“I just wanted to clarify, but the muzzle and leash are enough by themselves to count as restraints, correct?” the human asked. “Because his old owner had said he needed to be in a kennel, too, but that’s not on the sheet.”

“Sometimes a kennel is easier if you don’t want to tie him to something,” the assistant said. “For his restraints to count, you have to be holding the leash or he has to be tied so that he can’t reach a guest.”

“Okay.” The human paused. “And just to be clear, he doesn’t have to wear it at home if I’m the only one there, correct?”

“That’s correct,” the assistant said. Katsuki flicked his tail and watched the human’s face. After reading all that he still wanted to take off the muzzle? Now he really had no idea what this guy’s angle could be, unless he was trying to win over Katsuki’s trust. The assistant didn’t think that decision was wise either and she folded her hands on the desk. “But remember, if you feel threatened at any point, we do recommend he wear it as often as possible.”

“Thank you,” the human said.

“If that’s all, I hope you two have a good day. Congratulations on your new pet, and Katsuki, congratulations on your new home.”

She waved and they stepped away from the desk so the next happy human and pet could arrive at the counter.

“I guess it’s all official then,” the human said, holding the papers to his chest. His knuckles had turned white around the chain in his hand. “We should go home and get that muzzle off so we can talk properly.”

Katsuki crossed his arms and waited.

“Right, you don’t know where that is,” the human said, rubbing the back of his head, knocking the end of the leash into his back. He winced and put his hand down and walked to the door. “It’s not far so we’ll be there before we know it.”

“Home” was a one room apartment in a low rent building.

Katsuki’s bad feeling about this entire situation continued to grow in his stomach and he wished he was back in his kennel. He felt the anger burning in his chest at the thought and it was only a matter of time before he snapped at his new owner.

He sat at the kitchen table while the human looked at the back of Katsuki’s muzzle, but the human wasn’t going to get it off that way.

“Oh, this is locked.” The human tapped the spot where the small key that was in his old owners’ pocket and he could hear the shock in his voice. “Your other owner didn’t give me a key.”

Katsuki snorted. The idiot should have asked for it before they left. Did he think Katsuki kept the muzzle on for looks? He had two perfectly functional hands that could get the thing off unless it was locked.

“Which means I either need to go back and ask for it, or break this and buy a new one later, but I’m not sure how much they cost.”

He could pay for Katsuki but didn’t think he could afford a new muzzle?

Katsuki’s stomach dropped and his suspicions continued to build up toward an answer he didn’t like.

“There’s no way I’m going back to that house, so I’ll have to snap off the lock,” the human said. “I think I’ve got some cutters in my toolbox. I’ll be right back.”

While he was alone, Katsuki looked around the apartment. Everything was old and worn. Faded posters of superheroes covered the walls, but there was little dust. The chair under him creaked with wood that smelled like it was rotting, however the table was in good shape. The apartment’s furnishings were mixed and matched, like they’d been bought one piece at a time and he could smell multiple people around, though the human appeared to live alone.

A lot of things didn’t add up and Katsuki was not going to be a victim. The human’s “nice guy” act didn’t fool him and he was going to regret taking that muzzle off.

“Found them!” The human said, unaware of Katsuki’s inner plans. Like an idiot, he found the thinnest part of the muzzle’s strap and gently cut through it. He set the cutters on the table and pulled off the muzzle. “That’s better.”

“You must think I’m an idiot,” Katsuki said.

The human jerked and held tight to the muzzle. He twisted it by these strap in his hands and winced. “I beg your pardon?”

“There was an auction for my ass before I was out of the womb. I was bought and paid for before I took my first breath.” Katsuki stood to his full height, glaring down at the human. He took a step back and Katsuki matched it with another step toward him. He grabbed the human’s shirt to keep him from getting away and the man yelped. “I’m an expensive as hell hybrid and there’s no possible way a construction worker like you got that much money in a day or two legally.

“Which means one of two things,” Katsuki said. He lifted the human off the ground and snarled in his face. It felt good to make some damn noise. The human opened his mouth and Katsuki slammed his hand over it to shut him up. It was his turn to talk. “Either you’re actually a criminal of some sort with connections and I’m about to find myself back on the market and sold under the table, or you’re a moron that made a deal with some loan shark or criminal and we’re both going to be fucked when they come to collect.

“So you give me one reason why I shouldn’t rip your throat out right now and walk out that door,” Katsuki growled.

The human smacked his wrist a few times with the hand that held the muzzle and Katsuki pulled his palm away to hear what the little rat had to say.

“I had a third option!” The human yelped when Katsuki shook him but he wriggled and dropped the muzzle to grope at the counter behind him. He knocked over a few things grabbing a framed photo. He held it near his head and pointed at a familiar looking figure with an arm around the human’s shoulder. “I’m friends with a Todoroki and he gave me the money!”

Katsuki dropped the human and took the photo.

That wasn’t possible.

How did a guy like that have a connection to a Todoroki?

“I didn’t want to borrow it from him but he was the only person I knew who had that much and so I asked and now he won’t even let me pay him back because he said it was ‘pocket change,’ and boy, did that put his finances into a new perspective,” the human said in a rush. Katsuki let the nervous rambling wash over him as he kept staring hard at the photo, looking for any evidence it was faked. “I mean, I knew he was rich but I didn’t know he was that rich.

“I did try to insist that I’d pay him back but he went on and on about how I never borrowed a dime in our ten years of friendship and I was overdo but I still think it was a bit much and—”

Katsuki slammed his hand over the human’s mouth again and set the picture on the counter.

“Never mind the money, how the hell do you know a Todoroki?” he asked.

“Oh,” the human said. “That’s a long story.”

“I’ve got time.”

Katsuki sprawled on the worn couch, covering his face with a pillow.

Private school.

His new human owner had impressed some idiot teacher and got himself sponsored to attend a ritzy private school where he met a lot of influential and important people that he still kept in contact with, including one Shouto Todoroki that thinks of the idiot as one of his best friends and an Ochako Uraraka, the owner of the construction company his old owner hired.

“Why did you buy me again?” Katsuki asked, pressing the pillow harder onto his upper face. The coarse fabric scratched at his nose and he was too tired to complain. “Because you don’t look like you were prepared for a pet.”

“I didn’t like seeing you in there,” the human said, pulling his feet onto the chair he sat in next to the couch. He wrapped his arms around his legs and breathed out. “It wasn’t right how he was treating you and I had to help.”

A good samaritan who didn’t know how to think ahead.

Katsuki had lived with worse.

“What’s your name again?” Katsuki asked, pulling the pillow off his face and setting it on his waist. “I’ve been calling you ‘moron’ in my head, which works just as well, by I might as well know what your actual name is.”

“Izuku,” the human said, smiling over his knees. He glanced away and rubbed his thumb up and down his arm. “I know this situation isn’t the best and it all happened really fast, but I’m sure we’ll work things out and maybe we can find a place you’ll be happy staying.”

He doubted it.

There wasn’t really a difference at the end of the day. An owner was an owner and whether he was crammed in a kennel or stuck in a tiny apartment, it was all the same when he had to wear a muzzle and a leash when he stepped outside.

He had brought it on himself, Katsuki knew, but it still stung to know he was going to be trapped for the rest of his life.

Katsuki got off the couch and dropped the pillow back on the cushions. He ripped his shirt off over his head and pulled off his collar, placing them both on the couch. The human’s face slowly turned red as he stared and Katsuki smirked.

“I’m taking a shower.”

He dropped his shorts on the way to the bath and heard a very distinct squeak of embarrassment as his tail swished.

Katsuki was still trapped, but at least this human would be fun to mess with.

Chapter Text

“So how are things with the new pet? You two have been together a week now, so you must be settling in somewhat.” Uraraka sipped her soda, her short hair bouncing around her face as the two of them walked down the street. Izuku squeezed the handle of his bag and winced, averting his eyes. Uraraka pulled the straw out of her mouth. “That bad?”

“Katsuki has a rather dominant personality,” Izuku said, rounding the corner. He struggled for kind words, not wanting to talk bad about the pet when they were still getting to know each other. Uraraka snickered under her breath, going back to sipping on her drink through the straw. Izuku twisted the plastic of the bag around his finger. “And I’ve become much more aware of how small my apartment is.”

“I had wondered about that,” Uraraka said. “I mean, it’s pretty normal for pets to share a bed, but you had a twin.”

“I’m sleeping on the couch,” Izuku said. He checked his phone again to make sure they were still going the right direction. Ibara had recommended her favorite pet store when Izuku asked where she got things for her own dog and he didn’t want to miss it. “I’m pretty sure if I tried to share, he really would bite me.”

“Has that been a problem?” Uraraka asked, glancing at the bag he carried. “You said all his restrictions were legitimate and he’s attacked someone before.”

“If we don’t count that he threatened me on the first day, he hasn’t done anything.” Izuku pulled the bag up and opened the two handles, looking down at the broken muzzle he needed to replace. “I don’t think Katsuki cares enough about me to bother biting.”

Aside from asking for Izuku’s name and smirking under his breath whenever Izuku covered his face or turned away when Katsuki undressed or changed, he didn’t bother much with his new owner at all.

The dog hybrid had been more than content to do as he pleased whether Izuku was there or not.

If he wanted to watch television and Izuku was sitting on the couch, he grabbed Izuku by the back of the neck and tossed him to the next cushion over to make room.

If Katsuki wanted in the kitchen, he lifted Izuku by the collar and moved him.

His height and muscle allowed the dog to manhandle Izuku with so little ease it hurt his pride—Izuku was hardly the weakling he used to be in middle school, too! But Katsuki was built like an athlete and had no problem making sure Izuku knew it.

“I feel more like the pet than he does,” Izuku admitted. “He’s taken over my apartment and I’m not sure how to approach him to compromise because every time I attempt to talk to him, he shoves his hand over my mouth and tells me to be quiet.”

“Huh,” Uraraka said. She shook her cup in circles, swirling the ice and leftover beverage. “I wish I could help, but I don’t exactly have a pet either. Aside from Ibara, have you tried talking to anyone else?”

Izuku shook his head. “I don’t know any other pet owners close enough to ask.”

“Maybe you can meet more when you get that fixed,” Uraraka said, pointing at the muzzle. “If he’s restrained, you can take him to parks and things, right? You both could use some new friends.”

Izuku nodded. “I need to apartment shop, too. I had thought my place was big enough for two, but neither of us have any form of privacy.”

Uraraka grinned. “Let me know when you go house shopping! I want to come.”

“You want to check out the competition,” Izuku said, tilting his head to the side.

He knocked a loose curl in his eyes and she laughed, shoving it aside. “You know me so well.”

They both laughed and went back to their walk to the pet store. Izuku had really needed this, though he hoped Katsuki was okay home alone. He checked the clock and blew out.

Hopefully they wouldn’t be too long at the store.

Izuku wanted to introduce Katsuki to his friends, but he couldn’t do that until he had a new muzzle.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had to order one of those,” the shop owner said, pulling up a website on the register monitor. “Give me a second and I’ll see what we can get you.”

Izuku’s shoulders dropped.

He had been hoping that the pet store would have one in stock so he could let Katsuki out of the apartment, but it would be at least a week before one arrived. They had to be custom ordered to fit and paperwork had to be filled out.

If he’d known that, he would have gone back to the original owner and asked for the key before he broke it.

Behind him, Uraraka browsed the shelves for all the various pet specific, nutrient rich foods and treats. He hoped she didn’t buy anything too expensive, since he knew he’d never be able to talk her out of buying Katsuki a housewarming gift or two.

“I’m glad you have the old one. It’ll save me some measurements.” The shop keep turned over one of the leather straps and leaned in closer to read the text burned into the material. It had sizes listed as well as model numbers. “Are you sure you don’t want to just have this one sent off to be fixed? It’s cheaper than getting a new one.”

“I’m sure,” Izuku said. “I want one that doesn’t have that bar, so he can talk while he’s got it on.”

The shop owner nodded and spun the screen around, pointing at Izuku’s different options. With his budget and the requirements of the muzzle, he mostly got to pick the color and nothing else.

Izuku picked red to match Katsuki’s eyes and collar.

“It’s been ordered.” The shop keep turned the monitor back around and pushed Izuku’s broken muzzle back at him. “I’ll give you a call when it arrives.”

“Thank you,” Izuku said.

“Thank you,” he replied

Izuku stuffed the muzzle back in the bag and wandered to the other side of the store to find Uraraka. She had parked herself in front of a wall of collars, with her finger to her lip. Uraraka had an armful of treat bags and a green chew toy shaped like a stuffed rabbit.

“Are you ready to go?” Izuku asked. “I don’t want to leave Katsuki home alone too long.”

“Oh, he’s fine,” Uraraka said, waving her hand. “Help me pick out a collar. Your pet deserves a new one.”

“Don’t pets usually pick out their own collars?”

“You pick out your own clothes, but that doesn’t mean you won’t wear a sweater if someone gets you a gift,” Uraraka answered. She snorted and turned around with her hands on her hips. “Let the dog have some options.”

Izuku looked back at the wall and picked up a black one. It was simple and had a cross pattern repeated around the band.

“Perfect,” Uraraka said. She snatched it out of his hand and skipped up to the register. “I’m paying and don’t argue!”

Izuku huffed and put his hands in his pockets as he followed his friend. Money used to be a sore spot for her, but after she got out of school and helped make her parents’ construction company successful, she loved spending money on her friends whenever she could get the chance.

He’d put up an obligatory argument about paying for his own things, but Izuku had just spent the rest of his paycheck on a muzzle.

Izuku would need to put in a few extra hours at work.

“I’m home, Katsuki,” Izuku said, coming in the door. He closed the door behind him, looking for the dog hybrid. He found Katsuki sprawled on the couch with the remote in his hand, eyes on the screen and ignoring his owner. Izuku walked closer and held the bag of goodies from the store against his chest. “It’ll take a week for the new muzzle. I was really hoping we could go out somewhere soon, so I’m sorry about that.”

Katsuki changed the channel, still not acknowledging Izuku.

He put the bag on the coffee table. “Uraraka bought you a few things at the pet store, though. You’ll have to let me know if you like any of them.”

The dog hybrid glanced up at Izuku before looking at the bag. He tossed the remote on the table and sat up, the tags on his red collar clinking together as he moved. “And why would she do that?”

“She likes buying gifts,” Izuku said. He reached down and started putting the items from the bag out on the table. “I’m surprised she doesn’t have a pet of her own to spoil.”

“Not everyone likes sharing their house with hybrids,” Katsuki said, grunting. He picked up the small stuffed rabbit and fell back on the couch cushions again. He pulled his furred feet up as he bent his knees and put dropped his head on the pillow leaning against the arm rest. He poked the rabbit’s nose before tugging on its ears. “Don’t bother opening the treats. You can go get her money back.”

Izuku stared at the bag in his hand and turned it over. “Have you had them before?”

“No, but I’ve had homemade treats since I was like five,” Katsuki said. He dropped the rabbit on his chest and flicked his tail against the couch. “I don’t need to try them to know they taste bad.”

“I can give them to Ibara and her dog,” Izuku said. He scooted the new collar over and packed the treats back up. “Tetsutetsu will eat anything.”

Katsuki snorted, rubbing little circles on the stuffed rabbit’s back.

“I’m am sort of curious, though,” Izuku said. He popped open the cheapest bag, looking down at the small round discs. They looked like circular protein bars dipped in chocolate. He pulled one out and bit into it. Izuku puckered and winced, spitting it out a few seconds later. He didn’t have words for how awful the dog treat had tasted. “That was a mistake. Those are disgusting.”

The dog hybrid had no mercy and smirked. He hopped off the couch, carrying the stuffed rabbit by the ears as he walked away. “I just told you that.”

Katsuki stretched his arms over his head and disappeared into the bedroom. Izuku heard the whine of his bed springs from the living room as the dog hybrid jumped onto it for a nap.

Izuku spit out the last of the dog treat and refused to feel bad throwing the rest away. A tiny smile tugged at his cheeks and he reminded himself to thank Uraraka again the next time he saw her.

That had been the longest conversation he’d had with Katsuki since the dog moved in.

Chapter Text

Katsuki relaxed on the bed, curled on his side in a half ball. He had the lights out and the windows drawn so the afternoon light wouldn’t reach him. The small rabbit plush sat on the pillow near his head and its round, black bead eyes stared forward. Katsuki tapped one with the tip of his claw and huffed.

He’d been with his new owner for two weeks and Katsuki had almost settled into a proper routine, though he did wonder when the human would work up the nerve to take his bed back.

Katsuki had thought for sure Izuku would have kicked him out or shoved him over after the third night, but the man had slept on the couch even though it was too short for him to stretch out comfortably. Katsuki had seen the man curled and shifting on the old piece of furniture attempting to find a position he could sleep in.

The rabbit stared at him with judging eyes and he picked it up and turned it around.

“It’s not my fault he’s sleeping on the couch,” Katsuki said, mumbling to the toy. It didn’t answer, furthering the silence in the empty apartment with the human out once more. Katsuki scratched at the sheets near his face, gently picking at the worn sheets. “If he doesn’t want to share, that’s his problem.”

Even Katsuki’s old owner let his pet sleep with him when Katsuki had been good. He’d had to keep the muzzle on, but it’d been nice sleeping near another warm body and listening to the man breathe.

It was a soothing sound he’d grown used to since he was a little puppy curled up on his own special pillow at the end of the bed.

Katsuki grabbed the rabbit and hugged it to his chest. He closed his eyes and forced himself to nap.

He hardly had anything else to do.

His ears flicked when he heard the door open.

Katsuki cracked his eyes open, turning his head to the side. He listened for the steps of his new owner and pushed the rabbit away when they headed toward the bedroom. The rabbit fell against the side of the pillow and he sat up at the clinks of metal.

The human stood in the doorway, fidgeting with a new muzzle with red straps in his hands.

“There is a dog park down the street,” his owner said, twisting the leather. The metal parts clicked against each other and he swayed from one foot to the other. “Would you like to go?”

Katsuki had never been to a dog park.

His ears twisted back and his tail flipped on the mattress. Did he want to go out? Katsuki didn’t want to put the muzzle back on, but he also hated being stuck inside. The apartment was nearly as suffocating as the kennel. His kennel had been in a large, open room with plenty of windows and air but his new owner’s apartment was small and cramped with walls everywhere.

At least he could see through his kennel walls.

But Katsuki had never been around a lot of other hybrids before. He had usually only been around one or two at a time. His breath picked up and he dragged his fingers in toward his palms, making fists. Katsuki had been with his parents and then he’d been with his old owner and his wife. Then there’d been that stupid hybrid dog show and—

Katsuki huffed and came back to the present.

A park outside wasn’t a show.

They weren’t the same and this time he’d have a muzzle. And an owner with a leash. And nothing was going to go—

“Katsuki?” the human whispered. He dropped his arms from in front of him, holding the muzzle loosely at his side. “Are you okay?”

He shook out his head and huffed, scooting to the edge of the bed. Katsuki put his paws on the floor and walked to the timid human. The usual tremor that sent a shiver of nervous energy down the other man’s spine was nowhere to be seen. Izuku had replaced it with the calm of genuine concern.

“Peachy,” Katsuki said. He reached down and took the muzzle from his hand, looking it over as he walked past. “Let’s go to the park.”

“O-okay,” his owner said. The man tapped after Katsuki, his nerves returning as he held his hands up. “Do you need help with the—I guess not.”

Katsuki fitted the muzzle over his own face and tightened the straps in the back without looking, cutting the human off in his offer to put it on. Katsuki had been wearing muzzles his entire life and there was nothing more awkward than having someone else put it on you.

Though this one barely qualified. The bar that he spent most of his time chewing and grinding his teeth on was absent and the metal cage was roomy though it didn’t stick out far enough to look like a real dog’s muzzle. The straps had a soft lining on the underside of the leather, resting gently against his head.

He barely felt like he was wearing a muzzle at all.

“You need to lock it,” Katsuki said, pointing a claw at the back strap. “That’s all.”

The human stared at him with narrowed eyes for a moment too long before he shook his head and agreed. He tapped back into the kitchen and searched through the back for the small key on a long chain.

“There we go,” Izuku said as he locked it. “We just need the leash and we can go.”

He set the key on the table and Katsuki threw his head back. He picked up the chain and grabbed the back of his human’s shirt. The man yelped as Katsuki dragged him back and dropped the key around his neck.

The man stared at it hanging near his chest and Katsuki tugged on one of his curls. “It’s on a necklace so you can wear it.”

“I thought it was just a long chain,” the human said, shrinking. He twisted the small key before he shoved it and the chain under his shirt. “It makes sense though. I should have it with me if we need to take your muzzle off in an emergency. If it got caught on something we’d have to cut it off and then that’d be another one broken and…”

Katsuki grunted as the human kept reading out worst case scenarios. He grabbed his leash off the table. He snapped it to his own collar and held out the end. “Are we going or are you going to stand there mumbling to yourself?”

“We’re going!” his owner shouted, snapping straight up. He took the leash end with timid fingers and grabbed his keys and wallet. He grinned over his shoulder and he perked up. “It’s not far, so we should have a nice walk.”

Katsuki followed him out the door, swallowing down his own nerves as they stepped into the hallway.

Other dog hybrids wouldn’t be a problem.

He breathed in.

Not a problem.

Going to the dog park had been a bad idea.

Katsuki missed his muzzle bar. He ground his teeth together, his nose twitching at the smells all around him. Hybrids and humans of all sorts mingled around and the title “dog park” was highly misleading with cat, rabbit, and other hybrids of all sorts milling about in the area.

His owner appeared equally overwhelmed, standing next to Katsuki with the end of the leash wrapped twice around his hand.

“Where do you want to go?” his owner asked. They stood near the side of the fence, looking over the area. “I think there’s a track if you want to run.”

Katsuki crossed his arms and growled at another hybrid that’s gaze lingered too long at his muzzle. He didn’t care about the thing, but he really wished people would stop. Katsuki was the only hybrid in the park with a muzzle but that didn’t make him a side show they could stare at!

“Let’s just get out of here,” Katsuki said. He grabbed the middle of his leash and walked back toward the entrance, yanking hard on the end to drag his owner forward with his arm outstretched as he struggled to keep up. “We can walk around town or something.”

“Katsuki, slow down,” his owner said, tugging back on the leash. Katsuki stopped short and pulled the leash strap forward at the same time. His owner tripped and smacked into his side and Katsuki snorted. The human rubbed his nose and—in full sincerity—said, “Thanks for waiting up.”

Katsuki almost hit him.

His owner relaxed and rubbed his hand where the leash had pulled too tight and turned the skin red. “If you want to go around town we can—”

“Hey look! It’s someone new!” A bright voice shouted. Katsuki saw a dog hybrid with bright red hair that didn’t match the dark black fur on his ears and paws. His tail flicked back and forth in a fast manner and he ran to Katsuki and Izuku with a wide smile that showed off sharp teeth. He came to a stop and kept wagging his tail. “Hi! I’m Kirishima! What’s your name?”

Katsuki stared at the strange dog and hated that his ears flipped back against his will, showing his unease at the dog invading his space.

“Eijirou!” Another voice called. A human with dark black hair that swept up in the back and pointed ears chased after the dog hybrid. He stopped near them, out of breath and with a hand on his chest. “We talked about this! You can’t just run off like that.”

“Let him have his fun, Tamaki!” Yet another voice called. Katsuki grabbed the side of his pants as another large, muscular man arrived. He had blond hair and a bright smile that matched the dog. “It’s a park! They’re supposed to run around and make friends.”

“Not when it makes another hybrid uncomfortable,” the shyer man—Tamaki—said, holding his arm. He shrugged and reached up to hook his fingers in the back of Kirishima’s collar. Tamaki gently pulled him back and said, “I think you’re making him upset standing so close.”

“Am I?” Kirishima asked. He looked at Katsuki’s ears and curled tail before he jerked up and took a step back closer to his owner. “Sorry! I got so excited to see someone new, I forgot myself.”

“It’s okay,” his owner said, stepping in. He rubbed the back of his neck and clutched the end of his leash. “My name is Izuku and this is Katsuki.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Tamaki said. He put his hand in the middle of Kirishima’s head and rubbed his hair between the furred ears. “I’m Tamaki Amajiki, and this is my pet, Eijirou Kirishima.”

“Who already introduced himself,” the dog hybrid said, sticking out his tongue at his owner. “But I’m sure they don’t mind the repeat.

Tamaki blushed and put his hand back down.

“And I’m Mirio Togata,” the other man said. He slapped Tamaki on the back and gave Katsuki and his owner a thumbs up with a wink. “His best friend. I’m not a pet owner, but I love coming to the dog park with them.”

“We’ve never been,” Izuku said. He relaxed a fraction and looked at Katsuki before addressing the newcomers. “Katsuki and I have only been together two weeks and this is the first time we’ve had a chance to get out.”

“Oh, a new owner! That’s exciting!” Kirishima exclaimed. His tail wagged and Katsuki felt exhausted just looking at him. “We can show you guys around!”

“That’d be great,” his owner volunteered. Katsuki snapped his head to look at him and gritted his teeth. Of all the times for that idiot to gain a backbone! Izuku reached over and tugged lightly on Katsuki’s sleeve. “A guided tour would be good, don’t you think?”

Katsuki snorted and looked away, moving his arm to break free of the human’s hold. “Don’t touch me.”

“Sorry!” his owner said, holding up his hands and waving back and forth.

Tamaki and Mirio shot each other a look but said nothing.

The tension flew over the other dog hybrid’s head and he shouted, “Yeah! Come on, I’ll show you the best places to cut loose and run. Sometimes we have races. Do you like running?”

Katsuki shook his head.

“When you see the track they have here, I bet you change your mind,” the hybrid said.

The dog hybrid continued to chatter about the areas of the park, excited and tail wagging. He watched his owner pull out a small notebook and jot down things as he wrote, paying attention and nodding along. Kirishima’s owner and his friend made light conversation with Izuku and Katsuki…Katsuki wasn’t sure what to do.

But about fifteen minutes into Kirishima’s exclamations about the wonders of the park, it hit Katsuki that none of the three mentioned his muzzle once.

Chapter Text

Six feet.

With the handle wrapped around Izuku’s hand once for a firmer grip, the length reduced to five and a half feet.

“Regulation length,” Izuku said.

He stared at the list of restrictions Katsuki had to follow and the longest leash they were allowed to use had to be six feet long. Izuku hadn’t realized how short that could be until they hung out with other people at the park.

It became most noticeable when Kirishima recommended running on the track. Izuku, try as he might, couldn’t keep up the pace with the two dog hybrids. Katsuki didn’t seem to mind or care, running at a light jog that Izuku could manage, but the other dog had sped ahead before he realized the other two were far behind.

“Oh right, the leash thing,” Kirishima had said, mentioning it for the first time. The dog hybrid caught himself staring at it and swished his tail back and forth in a forced, excited manner. “It’s okay! There’s other stuff to do!”

Those other activities ended up being equally as dismal a prospect: it was hard to play fetch or tag when you were tethered to a line and Katsuki wanted nothing to do with digging. Their only option after that was talking and Katsuki didn’t want to do much of that either.

The dog hybrid reached his limit of social interaction after two hours and growled at another dog hybrid that knocked into his shoulder.

They’d gone home shortly after that, though Izuku and Tamaki did exchange contact information so they could visit again later. Kirishima gave Katsuki his number too, but as Katsuki didn’t have a phone yet, he wasn’t able to return the favor.

Izuku added that to the list of items he needed to buy.

He pushed aside the copy of Katsuki’s restrictions and pulled his budgeting notebook. Izuku bit his lip staring at the dismal number leftover in his savings and bank account. That phone might have to wait until Izuku could get another job lined up.

“You’d think a construction worker would make more,” Katsuki said, leaning over his shoulder. He bit the end off a stick of jerky and chewed, licking the side of his canines after he swallowed. “Your girlfriend sure has enough spare cash to keep buying dog toys.”

Katsuki pointed at the small growing stack of chew toys and treat bags. Every time Izuku saw his friend, she seemed to have some new thing on hand to pass onto the dog hybrid. Izuku hadn’t the heart to tell Uraraka that Katsuki had only liked the first rabbit and didn’t want any of the rest.

Tetsutetsu sure enjoyed the gifts, though, and it was nice to know the toys weren’t going to waste. Izuku needed to introduce Katsuki to the other dog hybrid some day. He liked Kirishima, and he and Tetsutetsu had similar personalities.

But Uraraka’s finances and Izuku’s were a different matter.

“I’m not a construction worker and Uraraka isn’t my girlfriend,” Izuku said, correcting Katsuki. He closed his budget book and crossed his arms over the cover. He flushed and rubbed the back of his hand. Had he really not told Katsuki what he did for a living? “I’m self employed doing odd jobs and temp work for a few companies I have connections with. When they need an extra hand, I help out.

“Uraraka’s one of the places I work with the most, but it’s not the only place I lend myself out to.” Izuku grabbed his phone and pulled up his address book to show Katsuki the list. “There isn’t many yet, but I make do.”

“Let me guess,” Katsuki said, poking the screen. “They’re all people you met at that fancy private school of yours.”

Izuku put the phone on the table and looked away. “Not all of them.”

There were at least two clients out of his fourteen he had officially hunted down himself.

“Why did you get a dog again when you couldn’t afford one?”

“I can afford a pet,” Izuku said. He huffed and glared at the muzzle hanging on the hook by the door with the leash. The key around his neck continued to weigh too much and he licked his lip. “The muzzle just cost more than I expected and set me back, not that I know why it cost so much. You can get ones for regular dogs that are a tenth of the price.”

“Custom made things cost more,” Katsuki said, walking around the table and taking a seat on the other side. His ears flicked and he flipped open the ledger again, reading over the numbers with a scowl. “Still, your budget’s looking pretty tight for one person, let alone two.”

“We will be fine. Aside from that one set back, I make enough money to cover it,” Izuku said. He snapped the book shut and pulled it back. The cover caught on Katsuki’s claw and scratched the surface. “This is a temporary situation, anyway, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“That’s true. You did mention you were going to look for another owner,” Katsuki said, his tail still behind him. He put his elbow on the table and fiddled with the tags on his red collar. Katsuki hadn’t touched the new one that Izuku had picked out. “It’s been pretty clear you didn’t want a pet for yourself. You only picked me up because you felt sorry for the poor puppy in a cage.”

“Anyone would have.” Izuku said, continuing to glare at the muzzle and leash. “And who says I’ve never wanted a pet?”

Katsuki smirked and reached up and patted his own head between his ears. “Most dog lovers would have tried to pet me by now, threat of a bite or not.”

Izuku had been tempted once or twice.

But he had wanted to make sure his hand stayed attached to his arm more.

He flushed and looked away. “I wanted to give you your space.”

“I can believe that,” Katsuki said. He pulled his hand down and covered the lower half of his face with his furred hand, tapping a clawed finger on the side of his cheek. “But the best evidence I have is the fact you don’t already have one. People who want pets tend to own them.”

“It’s a big commitment,” Izuku said. Katsuki stared at him with judging eyes and he counted to ten in his head to stay calm. “I didn’t want to buy a pet without preparing.”

“Which you went and did anyway,” Katsuki said, waving his hand at himself. “So try again—why don’t you already have a pet if you wanted one?”

“Because I couldn’t afford one,” Izuku said, glaring over the table. He crunched the numbers once a year and it never felt like he had enough to support a hybrid. “Okay?”

“That’s what I thought,” Katsuki said. He got up and put his hands on the table and leaned across it to get in Izuku’s face. Katsuki growled and said, “For future reference, I hate liars.”

The dog hybrid left Izuku alone in the kitchen. The door to the bedroom slammed shut and Izuku put his head on the table and covered it with his arms.

“Katsuki?” Izuku asked. He had given them both about an hour to calm down, but he didn’t want to go to bed with that conversation lingering over both their heads. Izuku pushed open his bedroom door and stepped inside. “Can we talk?”


Katsuki stayed rolled in a ball in the corner of the bed. The stuffed rabbit sat on the pillow near the back of his head. His tail was curled close to him and Izuku put his hand on the back of his neck. He walked over and sat on the edge of the mattress with his back to the dog hybrid.

“I’m sorry I lied,” Izuku said. He put his hands on his knees and leaned forward. “I didn’t want to worry you and I was confident I could manage paying for everything we needed while you were here with a few extra shifts and cutting back on expenses.”

“You’re not good at planning ahead, are you?” Katsuki asked. Izuku felt the mattress move and turned his head to see Katsuki roll over toward him. He kept his elbows over the sides of his head and huffed. “But I already figured that out. Don’t lie again.”

“I won’t.” Izuku felt a smile grow and put his hands on the mattress. “I’m glad we got that settled.”

Katsuki picked up the rabbit and tugged on the foot. “So what kind of pet did you want if you could have afforded it?”

“I don’t know,” Izuku said. He crossed his arms and tilted his head. “I considered a few hybrid breeds when I did my research. I narrowed it down to a dog or a rabbit, but I always figured I’d know the right one when I met them.”

The dog snorted and dropped the chew toy back on the mattress. He stretched out a bit and laughed. “That sounds like a pet owner alright.”

Izuku rubbed under his nose.

A real pet owner.

He liked the sound of that.

“It’s getting late and I do have work tomorrow,” Izuku said, looking at the clock. He hated to ruin the moment, but work wouldn’t do itself. Izuku got up and rubbed his arm. He backed away toward the door, feeling better about the way things were going between him and the dog hybrid. “Good night, Katsuki.”

“Why do you keep sleeping on the couch?”

Izuku stopped at the door, surprised by the blurted question. He scratched at his head. “Because you’re the guest and I feel bad putting you on the couch?”

“No, I mean why aren’t we sharing?” Katsuki asked. He pouted and poked the rabbit again. “The bed’s big enough.”

“I didn’t think you’d want to.” Izuku gripped his sleeve. “Since we just met.”

Katsuki grabbed the blanket bunched at the end of the bed and pulled it over his shoulders, rolling over. “I don’t care where you sleep. Just don’t touch me.”

He hesitated for a moment, unsure if he should take that as an invitation or not. Izuku made up his mind and grabbed his night clothes from the top drawer of his dresser. It still felt like he was intruding on Katsuki’s space, but Izuku wasn’t going to question getting sleep in his bed again after two and a half weeks on his couch.

Izuku changed and crawled into the bed on the other side and melted on the soft mattress and sheets. He whispered, “Goodnight” one more time before he set the alarm and went to sleep.

Izuku woke with a jolt.

He rubbed his eyes and sat up to see what had woken him: Katsuki had rolled into his back, pressing his forehead between Izuku’s shoulder blades. The dog nuzzled closer and knocked his knees into Izuku’s sides.

Katsuki looked relaxed in his sleep and his body was incredibly warm.

It was like sleeping next to a space heater.

Who’d taken his shirt off at some point during the night and had his chiseled muscles on display.

Izuku flushed red and remembered the other reason he may have been avoiding sleeping in the same bed as the dog hybrid.

Chapter Text

Katsuki chewed his rabbit’s ear, hugging the toy near the top of his chest as he curled on the couch.

Izuku had left early in the morning and Katsuki had woken up alone with his face shoved in the warm area of the sheets where the human had slept. The apartment was empty by the time he got out of bed, but he found breakfast waiting on the table. A plate of bacon and his supplements had been set out on the counter with a small note that said his owner would be back in the afternoon.

Katsuki popped the supplement pills and ate the cold food.

Another day in the empty apartment loomed ahead of him and Katsuki had run out of things to look through. The mismatch of knickknacks held little interest and his new owner had little to hide.

The only things tucked away out of sight were a few packed boxes of comic books with buff heroes and action packed adventures. Though they were less hidden and more stored for safety.

Each book had been wrapped neatly in a plastic sleeve and the series were labeled.

Katsuki had put the lid back on the box and shoved it back in place after adding another tick of information about his new owner to the list.

In truth, Katsuki had run out of other things to rummage through his second day in the house, but he’d attempted to keep himself entertained by looking through the apartment two or three times more looking for anything he might have missed.

His routine remained the same as it had since he arrived.

The television had become his new companion and the hours passed by without his notice as he switched channels waiting for Izuku to come home from whatever job he had lined up for the day.

Katsuki rolled onto his back and switched ears, gnawing on the other one to keep the small toy from undergoing too much wear. Chew toys were meant to take a beating, but they could still only take too much punishment from a pair of sharp teeth.

A little after Katsuki fixed himself a small snack, the door opened and his new owner wandered in.

“What happened to you?” Katsuki asked. He set down his empty plate in the sink and tapped across the kitchen tiles until he stared at the shorter man who’d just walked in. He poked a large bruise growing on the side of his face with the tip of his claw, setting it neatly in the groove of a scrape at the edge of the purpled skin. “That’s a nasty shiner.”

Izuku winced under the touch and put his hand on his cheek under the bruise. He shrugged and drew Katsuki’s gaze down his body to see where his shirt had been ripped in a few places in addition to dirt on his knees. “It’s not as bad as it looks.”

“Okay, but how’d it get there?” Katsuki asked again. He breathed in and smelled a stranger’s Scent on Izuku, but he didn’t recognize it. “Did you walk into a tree?”

He could believe that.

The human got lost in his thoughts more often than not during the day, looking down and muttering under his breath instead of paying attention to the things around him.

“No,” his owner said, pouting. He rubbed his bruise with the flat of his fingers and blushed. The human left the doorway and went into the living room, dropping his bag on the floor. “I didn’t walk into a tree.”

Katsuki narrowed his eyes and grabbed the human by his collar. He yanked the other man back and tossed him back into the door. “How’d you get the bruise?”

The human slumped against his door and narrowed his eyes at Katsuki. “It’s embarrassing.”

“Obviously,” Katsuki said. His tail flicked and he crossed his arms. “I still want to know.”

“Fine.” Izuku reached up and pressed his thumb between his eyes and breathed out. “I saw a guy in the park hit his pet hybrid on the street and I got angry. The dog hadn’t done anything to deserve getting smacked that hard across his ear and I went over to grab his arm before he could hit his pet again but then—”

“The hybrid attacked you, right?” Katsuki asked. He counted the scratches on Izuku’s cheek and they would line up with four claws that made a swipe for the human. “Looks like he roughed you up.”

The human frowned. “How’d you know the dog hybrid did it?”

“Because you touched his owner,” Katsuki said, pointing at the human’s chest. “Blind loyalty is like a dog’s number one trait. An owner really has to cross a line to get a pet dog to hate them, so I doubt he cared about a smack or two in the grand scheme of things when a total stranger comes up and grabs his owner like an absolute idiot.”

“What was I supposed to do then?” Izuku asked. He threw his hands up and narrowed his eyes. “How am I supposed to ignore something like that? He was hurting his pet!”

Katsuki flicked his tail again. “Was he? The fact the dog got more angry at you than his owner indicates otherwise. They’re total strangers and you have no idea what their relationship is like.”

“I’m not going to keep walking when someone needs help,” the human repeated again, drawing his hands into fists. “Even if it was my mistake, I’m not taking that chance.”

“Even if you got the dog in trouble for attacking a person?” Katsuki asked. He glanced a the muzzle hanging on the wall and licked the side of his own fang. A guard dog defending its owner didn’t have as much freedom as one would think. “How many people saw your little scuffle.”

“No one,” Izuku said. He looked at the ground and bit his lip. “We were alone on the street at the time.”

“So the hybrid beat your ass and left,” Katsuki said. “I take it you didn’t report the attack.”

“It was my fault he attacked me, so no, I didn’t report the hybrid.” The human’s face fell and he looked down, his cheeks turning red. “And yes, that’s about what happened.”

“It’s looking like you’re the one that needs a leash between the two of us,” Katsuki said. He went back into the living room and picked up his rabbit before curling back in his spot on the couch cushion. “Take a shower. You smell like someone else’s dog.”

Izuku shook his head and wandered past Katsuki and went into the bathroom. The shower water started five minutes later. When the human returned to make dinner, clean and in a fresh pair of clothes, the injuries from the fight did look better.

A few bruises wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Though Katsuki noted the Scent of the other dog to memory for later.

“Katsuki,” Izuku called, standing in the doorway of the bedroom. Katsuki cracked an eye open from the center of the bed and the human held up a leash. “Do you want to go out? I have a job downtown planting flowers and it’s a nice day.”

“Sure,” Katsuki said. He reached up and scratched the back of his head, yawning wide. Katsuki would rather be bored outside in a muzzle than trapped staring at the television all day again. “Why not?”

Izuku locked the back of the muzzle with a more practiced hand and shoved the key back under his shirt. Katsuki hooked the leash to his collar and stretched as they left the small apartment behind for the day.

The cool breeze outside ruffled Katsuki’s hair and felt good against his exposed fur. He scratched at his belly through his shirt and walked behind Izuku as he rambled about his job for the day and how it was a client he absolutely had not met at his fancy private school.

The job itself consisted of transferring a few large crates of potted plants into a series of flowerbeds that lined the sidewalks of an outdoor mall. The landscaping crew had lost a few hands to illness and they needed help to get everything finished before an event that weekend.

Izuku worked hard with sweat on his brow and dirt on his gloves, making sure not to lose or harm a single budding flower as he moved the plants from their pots to the beds with care.

Katsuki’s new owner had tied his leash to a light post near his section and he lounged in the grass that separated the walkways from the flower beds and enjoyed the weather. He listened to the sounds of people as they walked by and smelled the fresh cut grass on the other side of his muzzle.

“You idiot! Look what you did!”

Katsuki’s ears perked up at the yell. He sat up and saw his owner staring hard at something across the street. Katsuki followed his gaze and saw two of the other landscape workers glaring at each other with angry, red faces. Looking around, he realized that he, Izuku, and the two yelling men were the only ones still working in the area.

The one with the red shirt grabbed the other in dirt-stained pants and hauled him closer. “I ought to beat your ass for that!”

“Look who’s talking! You’re the one that dropped it!” The one covered in dirt from the knees down escalated the situation and kicked the other person in the shin. “That should come out of your paycheck not mine!”

Between them on the ground were shards of glass or ceramics of some sort. Katsuki didn’t recognize it from any of the decorative pots they’d had, but it must have been expensive—because the man in red took a swing at his partner.

And the man in jeans growled and threw a punch right back.

The two workers were soon engaged in a full on brawl in the middle of the street. Katsuki whistled and chuckled under his breath as they beat on each other. He crossed his arms and put bets on the man in jeans.

His owner did not share Katsuki’s glee over the free entertainment.

“What are you doing?” Katsuki asked, almost choking his owner when he grabbed the back of his shirt and yanked back to keep him from heading to the fighting couple. “Are you trying to get hurt again?”

“Let go,” Izuku said. He twisted in his shirt and shoved at Katsuki’s hand, all his prior fear of touching Katsuki disappearing under his stubborn will to meddle where he wasn’t needed. “I have to stop them from fighting or the manager will fire them.”

“Then let them get fired,” Katsuki said. “It’s none of your business and they’re twice your size. They’ll pummel you for interfering.”

Izuku kept pushing at Katsuki’s wrist but failed to free himself. “I don’t care. I need to stop this before they really hurt each other.”

“No you don’t,” Katsuki said. His owner couldn’t break free from Katsuki’s grip, what did he think he was going to do against two large men? He growled under his breath. “It’s none of your business what they do. Let them fight it out.”

“No!” Izuku shouted. He dropped, slipping out of his shirt and making a run for the other two men, bare chest and all. Katsuki felt his fur stand on end in anger as the human grabbed the arm of the man in red and shouted, “Stop fighting!”

As expected, the man in red shouted at his owner to “Stay out of it!” and shoved the idiot away. He hit the ground, scraping his elbow, but it didn’t deter the stubborn human. He got up and tried again, but this time it was the man with dirt covered jeans that told Izuku to get lost.

The human earned a second hit to the bruise on the of his face and he yelped as he hit the ground.

But he got back up and continued pleading for the two men to stop fighting.

“That useless idiot,” Katsuki said.

He unhooked his leash at the collar and jumped over the flower bed. Katsuki stalked toward the fight and built up the growl in his throat. When the man in red moved to deck his owner, Katsuki barked and grabbed the human by the wrist before his fist could connect with Izuku’s face.

“Bad move,” Katsuki snarled. He twisted the man’s arm and spun him around to throw him into his fighting partner. The two crashed into each other and rolled onto the ground. Katsuki barked once more for good measure and growled, “Knock that shit off.”

Both of the men’s faces twisted in fear and scrambled back. Katsuki kept growling even as his owner struggled to his feet and stared at the side of Katsuki’s face.

“Get lost!” Katsuki shouted, showing off his teeth behind the muzzle and lowering himself into a better attack position. He showed off his claws and his tail swished behind him. “You think I need my teeth to wreck your day?”

The two workers took the hint and sprinted.

Katsuki snorted and straightened back up, cracking his neck both ways. He turned to stare at his owner and licked his tooth. “Don’t pick fights if you can’t win them.”

Izuku said nothing, but he could feel the human’s stare on his back as he walked back to his leash still tied to the pole. He attached it back to his collar and pointed a clawed finger at his owner’s shirt on the ground. “Put that back on and finish planting the damn flowers.”

The human lowered his head and took slow steps toward his shirt. Izuku pursed his lips and narrowed his brows together as he pulled on his shirt and dropped back to his knees to finish the work he’d been hired to do.

Katsuki sat in the grass under the pole and watched the edge of the street in case the other two workers came back.

“You’re lucky they didn’t report you were off your leash,” Izuku said on the walk back home. He had his hands shoved in his pockets, with the end of the leash wrapped around his hand. “Stopping a few bruises aren’t worth adding more restrictions to your list or worse.”

“If they admit I broke up a fight, they have to admit they were fighting,” Katsuki said. He yawned and drew his shoulders in. “And it’d be our word versus theirs. They can’t prove I was off the leash, now can they?”

“What if it was on a camera somewhere? There is security in the mall.”

“If you’re that worried, then maybe you should learn to mind your own business so I don’t have to break the law to save your ass,” Katsuki growled right back. The human glared at him and Katsuki shoved him in the shoulder. “Use your head.”

Izuku opened his mouth but he snapped it shut. The human sniffed and his eyes watered, but they stayed wet instead of turning to tears. Izuku rubbed the side of his nose and asked, “What do you want for dinner?”

“I don’t care as long as it’s spicy,” Katsuki said.


The weather stayed pleasant the rest of the trip back to Izuku’s apartment. They picked up ingredient for curry on the way back from a small market, using the money Izuku had earned from the job planting flowers.

They didn’t talk the rest of the night and Izuku slept on the couch.

Katsuki bit his rabbit’s ear, curling up under the blankets on the bed. He went to sleep with a full stomach and the knowledge he had his work cut out for him keeping his new owner under control.

Chapter Text

“It doesn’t make sense,” Izuku said. He put his hands in his hair and dropped his elbows on the table. “He handled it so well I couldn’t believe it.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” Uraraka asked, sipping on her shake. Todoroki nodded in agreement next to her and stirred his own to mix up the melting ice-cream. “It’d have been pretty bad if he’d hurt someone.”

Izuku slid his elbow forward and rested his head on the inside of his arm, still rubbing the back of his head. “It is, but if he can be that well behaved, why is his offense list so long? Why is he still in a muzzle?”

“It’s possible he doesn’t want to make his situation worse,” Todoroki said. “I doubt he wants to go back to a shelter or be locked up with the authorities.”

“Still,” Izuku said. He pulled his plate of fries over and popped one in his mouth. “He’s pushed me around, but he hasn’t done anything close to trying to bite me or hurt me. It makes me wonder if the things in his report are true. A little manhandling is nothing compared to half of the things on his record.”

“What did he do?” Todoroki asked. “You’ve never gone into detail.”

Izuku pressed his lips together. He’d kept the list to himself at first because he didn’t want his friends to be scared of Katsuki. The dog Hybrid appeared to have calmed down and the last thing he needed was for his friends to be tense and stress him out if they came to visit.

It couldn’t hurt to share it with them.

They were some of his best friends.

“When Katsuki was ten, he was entered into a dog show. They don’t list the details, but they said he was stressed and agitated to the point that he bit a judge.”

That had been his first offense. Katsuki had been banned from competing in shows for a year and that had been it as far as punishments were concerned. He’d been a “puppy” and everyone agreed it’d been a simple mistake on both the owner’s part and a handler who didn’t realize the dog hybrid pup was so skittish.

“At his next show, Katsuki was disqualified for biting a judge a second time,” Izuku said. “They didn’t list the reason, but he was banned from competing for another five years.”

Katsuki had bitten three other people in that time, losing his chance to compete permanently.

He was put under house arrest for those offenses, but he didn’t get the muzzle until two years later.

“The report said he got into a fight with the owner of another hybrid and nearly ripped the man’s throat out,” Izuku said, breathing in slowly. He pushed his fries around his plate while Uraraka and Todoroki listened with solemn expressions. “After reading the details, I’m surprised he only has to deal with a muzzle and leash treatment.”

If the man hadn’t made it to the hospital in time, Katsuki would have been found guilty of manslaughter.

“His owner was very wealthy and he’s a rare breed,” Todoroki said. “It’s possible that swayed the decision to a lighter sentence.”

Izuku nodded twice.

That’s what he had assumed as well.

“Was there anything after that?” Todoroki asked. “It’s possible that the realization he almost killed someone is what calmed his behavior.”

“Minor things,” Izuku said. “He got into a lot of fights with other hybrids and minor scuffles that didn’t involve humans so they didn’t affect his restrictions.”

“Either way, it’s good he appears to have calmed down, whatever the reason,” Todoroki said. He frowned and put his hands in his lap. “I’d hate to have anything happen to you, especially since I gave you the money to bring him into your house.”

Izuku rubbed the back of his neck and laughed. “I’m glad, too.”

Katsuki had genuinely been a good dog so far. He was grumpy and took charge too much for being the “Pet” between the two, but Izuku had heard that was also common among owners and their pets.

Though usually he heard it about that sort of thing with cat Hybrids more than dogs.

Uraraka popped her straw out of her shake and pointed it at Izuku. She grinned and her hair bounced as she laughed. “I bet he’s too busy worrying about you to think about picking fights.”

Izuku covered his face. “I shouldn’t have told you about the landscaping job.”

“Or explained the injury on the side of your face,” she said. Uraraka dropped the straw back in her cup and shook her head. “Katsuki’s right, you know. You really should stop picking fights when you could do the smart thing and call for help.”

“But what if they don’t come fast enough?”

“We’re not asking you to stop entirely,” Todoroki said. “Just to have some sense.”

“Or start bringing Katsuki with you everywhere,” Uraraka said. “It sounds like he can handle things just by being there.”

Izuku bit his lip. “It’s hard not to be intimidated by a dog Hybrid that big and that muscular. I don’t know when he works out, but he is made of muscle.”

Uraraka smirked and shot him a knowing grin while Izuku blushed, thinking of perfect pecs and shaped abs.

Despite missing the atmosphere, Todoroki changed the subject to Izuku’s great relief before Uraraka could start teasing him.

“How have things been aside from that?” Todoroki asked. “Are you and Katsuki getting along at all? Or is it still tense.”

“I think we’re getting along better,” Izuku said. “Though Katsuki doesn’t like to do much, even though I know he’s bored. He didn’t want to go back to the park and I asked if he wanted to see Kirishima again and he said no.”

“That’s a shame,” Todoroki said. “Does he have anything else to keep himself occupied at home?”

“Just a few dog toys,” Izuku said.

Or he had one dog toy that he liked.

“Oh!” Uraraka said, sitting up straight. “I forgot to mention, Ibara ratted you out. She said that Tetsutestu loves all his new toys and treats. You could have told me Katsuki didn’t want any of the presents. I would have stopped sending them.”

“You had so much fun buying them I didn’t want to ruin your day. He does still have a few though and I have all the collars just in case he wants to trade out his old one,” Izuku said. He chuckled and shrugged. “He likes the stuffed rabbit, though. Katsuki takes it everywhere and sleeps with it. It’s adorable.”

Uraraka snorted and sipped her drink. “Is that so?”

Her grin turned wicked.

It was not the “That’s so cute!” expression he’d been expecting.

“What?” Izuku asked. “Why are you looking at me like that for?”

“I bought the bunny toy because it reminded me of you,” Uraraka said. She snickered as Izuku’s mouth dropped open an inch. “Or did you not notice it had curly fur that’s just like your hair? The little black bead eyes don’t do you justice, but the little dots for the whiskers look like your freckles.”

Katsuki went to bed with a rabbit that was supposed to be Izuku. He chewed its ear and nuzzled it and held it against his chest between those perfect muscles and he couldn’t stop picturing himself in place of the rabbit.

Izuku’s face exploded in red and Uraraka laughed until her chest hurt.

“Katsuki? Are you up?” Izuku asked. He knocked on the door and found the Hybrid napping on his side. He did not look at the stuffed rabbit between his arms or pay attention to the curling fluff that was around its neck or the exact shade of green he’d overlooked. Izuku called a little louder, “Katsuki?”

“I heard you,” the dog hybrid grunted. He shoved the rabbit away and rolled over, glaring up. “What is it?”

Izuku twisted the muzzle in his hand. “A couple of my friends wanted to meet you. They’re outside the door waiting to see if you were up for a visit.”

“Which friends?” Katsuki asked.

“Uraraka and Todoroki,” Izuku said. “They hear so much about you, they wanted to see you for themselves.”

Katsuki snorted and shoved the rabbit under the pillow. “It won’t kill me to see the idiot who keeps wasting her money or meet the guy that actually paid for me.”

The dog hybrid stood and plucked the muzzle out of Izuku’s hand. He never let Izuku help him put it on and always did it himself. The ease of which he assembled the muzzle still hurt Izuku’s chest and he locked it.

“I’ll get the leash.”

More for show than use, Izuku clicked it into place on the old and worn red collar and held the end. Katsuki sat on the couch and the taut leash stretched between him and Izuku at the door.

“Come on in,” Izuku said, opening it. “Katsuki said it was okay.”

“There he is!” Uraraka said, bursting in first. She skipped over and dumped her purse and belongings on the coffee table as she put her hands together. “Hello, Katsuki! I’m Ochako Uraraka and it’s nice to meet you at last.”

“Stop buying me shit,” Katsuki said, flicking his tail hard against the couch. “Get your own pet if you want to spoil one so bad.”

Uraraka whistled and looked over at Izuku. “You weren’t kidding about that dominance thing. He’s barking orders before he says hello.”

Katsuki choked in shock and Izuku covered his face.

Todoroki cracked a tiny smile and closed the apartment door behind him. He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked further inside the tiny apartment. His eyes glanced around in disapproval once—as he always did—before he remembered to keep his opinions on Izuku’s living situation to himself.

“I’m Shouto Todoroki and it’s also nice to meet you,” he said. Before Katsuki could open his mouth again to snap something witty, Todoroki added, “You were a hefty investment, though it appears it hasn’t gone to waste if what Izuku has said is true.”

Katsuki sniffed and his dark ears flattened against his head.

He had no smart remarks for that.

Izuku smacked his hands together and forced himself to smile as bright as he could. “Can I get anyone something to drink?”

“Oh, oh! Do you still have that strawberry lemonade you got from that one kitchen job you did? That was amazing!” Uraraka plopped into the chair nearest Katsuki and put her hands in her lap. “But if you don’t have that, water is fine.”


Izuku was sure he had some left, assuming Katsuki didn’t drink it while he was working. He looked at the dog Hybrid. “Do you want anything?”


“Okay,” Izuku said.

He breathed out and rounded the bar top and went into the kitchen. He kept his eyes on the trio in the other room and hoped this was the worst of the tension.

The muzzle had saved Uraraka’s hand.

On her way out, she patted Katsuki on the head between the ears as she passed the couch. The snap happened so fast Todoroki and Izuku barely had time to move and grab him before he’d pinned Uraraka on the ground.

The bark that’d come out of Katsuki had been nothing like the fight at the outdoor mall. Only the metal wire of the muzzle had stopped his teeth from reaching Uraraka’s hand and taking a chunk out of the limb.

When he realized he couldn’t bite her, he’d attacked her.

It’d been a few brief seconds, but Katsuki had been vicious and the wild look in his eyes would give Izuku nightmares for a week.

“I’m okay!” Uraraka said, holding her shaking hand near the door. Katsuki had ran to the bedroom after he’d been pulled off, but Izuku had to make sure Uraraka was alright first. She showed off her arm and the small white lines from where he’d grabbed her to throw on the ground. “It’s just a light scratch.”

Izuku breathed out and held his chest. “I am so sorry. He’s…he’s never done that before.”

“It’s my fault,” Uraraka said. She shook her head. “You said he didn’t like to be touched before we got here and I forgot. You’ll have to tell him I’m sorry, okay?”

“You should check on him,” Todoroki said. He rubbed Uraraka’s arm and nodded toward the door. “I’ll take her home.”

“Thank you, Todoroki,” Izuku said. He walked over and pulled Uraraka into a tight hug, squeezing her hard. She hugged him back and he could feel her heart beating through her chest. Izuku rubbed her back. “I am sorry, though. I’m so glad you’re okay.”

“I’ll see you later,” Uraraka said. She let him go and picked up her purse, holding it with both hands. She looked at the door with a sad expression. “But Todoroki’s right. You need to go make sure he’s okay, too.”

Izuku licked his lip and breathed out. “I will.”

His two friends left and Izuku rested his head on the door after it closed. He counted to ten a few times before stepping away. He set the chair on the floor back upright and put the coffee table back into place. The leg wobbled and he made a mental note to fix that later before he put anything heavy on it.

With nothing else to clean up, Izuku braced himself for the confrontation and wished he’d asked Todoroki to stay just in case things got out of hand.

“No,” Izuku said. He shook his head. He was the owner in this situation. Izuku had to trust Katsuki. “Here I go.”

He leaned on the door to his bedroom, listening with one ear toward the wood to make sure it was calm inside, before he tapped twice and pushed it open a crack. “Katsuki?”

“Go away.”

Izuku opened the door wider so he could see inside. He didn’t see Katsuki immediately, but he saw a flick of something in the dark near the floor. Izuku opened the door the rest of the way and the light from the hallway shone on his dark tail, sticking out from the other side of the bed on the floor.

“Are you okay?” Izuku asked, stepping into the room. As he got closer, he could see the dog curled on the floor and pressed into side of the bed frame. “You didn’t hurt yourself did you?”

“Can you not listen?” Katsuki asked, his arms over his head. His claws dug into the straps of his muzzle and his ears were flattened against his head, a sharp contrast against the blond hair. “I said to go away.”

“It’s okay,” Izuku said, voice soft. “Uraraka apologized for petting you without asking. She’s not mad.”

“Get out.”

A growl lined his words and Izuku stopped a couple feet from the hybrid. He glared through the corner of his eyes and his breath heaved.

He looked miserable.

Izuku sat on the floor at the end of the bed, not rounding the corner to where the hybrid hid himself. “You don’t look like you want to be alone.”

“Shut up.”

“Is it okay if I stay over here?” Izuku asked. “I’ll be quiet.”

Katsuki’s tail curled in, hiding the hybrid entirely around the corner. His labored breathing filled the room and Izuku waited patiently for his answer.

A few minutes later, Katsuki whispered, “I want my rabbit.”

Izuku got on a knee and leaned up on the mattress. He crawled across the bed and pulled it out from under the pillow. Izuku leaned over the side and held it down. “Here you go.”

Katsuki snatched it from Izuku’s hand and went back to his earlier position, with the rabbit tucked hidden away under his chest. The hybrid shook and his voice cracked, “Please go away.”

Izuku breathed out and slowly crawled off the bed on the opposite side. “I’m leaving the door open, okay? If you need me I’m right in the next room.”

The hybrid grunted in response and Izuku left the door open a crack. He went back into the living room and sat on the couch. The tears came a few moments later and Izuku did all he could to keep quiet.

Katsuki was doing the same, he was sure.

Chapter Text

The sizzle of meat and the smell of sausage drew Katsuki out of the the back bedroom. He licked his chops and pulled himself off the floor, letting his empty stomach guide him back into the light of the hallway. He held the rabbit by the ear and stopped near the kitchen bar to watch his new owner cook at the stove.

Lost in his own thoughts, Izuku pushed the thick slices of sausage in the pan. They were drenched in grease but the smell was too good to walk away and let them get cold. Katsuki sat on the nearest wobbly stool, debating whether or not to draw attention to himself.

The last thing he wanted was to scare the poor guy and end up with sausage on the floor or grease on the human’s face or arms if he hit the pan after a startle.

But Katsuki also felt like a creep watching the guy without his knowledge.

He waited for the human to stop away from the pan to open the fridge before he asked, “Did you make enough for two?”

“Katsuki!” Izuku spun around and held his chest after flailing his arms once. Katsuki was glad he’d waited for the man to step away from the stove or he was sure the food would have ended up on the floor with the pan handle hanging over the edge. His new owner caught his breath and relaxed his shoulders. “I’m glad to see you up. Are you feeling okay?”

“I’ll be better when that’s done,” Katsuki said, pointing at the sausage in the pan. He crossed his arms on the counter, letting the rabbit hang down on his side of the bar and out of sight. “It smells good.”

“I should have thought of drawing you out with food sooner,” Izuku said, though his smile stayed strained. The tension hung between them and he glanced at the muzzle still wrapped around Katsuki’s face. “I need to take that off so you can eat, don’t I?”

“I can eat through it,” Katsuki said, giving the human an out. He wouldn’t be surprised if the man had turned skittish after he nearly bit his friend. “I’ve done it before.”

Izuku shook his head and set his shoulders. “No, I’ll take it off.”

The human removed the pan from the burners and scraped the sausage off into a plate covered with a paper towel. He set it on the counter and tugged his key out of his shirt as he walked around the bar to Katsuki’s side.

Izuku’s hands were steady as he opened the lock.

He’d thought for sure there’d be a nervous shake, but the human’s nerves remained solid.

And as stupidly trusting as ever.

Katsuki left the mask on for a near full minute, the straps hanging heavy around his neck, before he pulled it off. He set the muzzle on the counter and shoved it aside so he had room to pull over the offered plate of food.

Izuku returned back to the kitchen and cleaned a few things up before serving himself something to eat. They didn’t talk through the exchange. Katsuki ate the seasoned food and chewed while Izuku brought his own small plate to the kitchen table a few feet from the bar.

The sound of chewing and utensils clicking against the plates—or claws in Katsuki’s case—filled the kitchen.

The relative silence didn’t last long and the human spoke up first.

“I owe you an apology,” Izuku said. He rested his hands in his lap and watched Katsuki from the corner of his eye even though his head stayed bowed as if he were looking at the table. “I didn’t think the muzzle might be there to protect you, too. I don't know why it didn’t occur to me that you might not have been in control of your actions when you hurt those people.”

Katsuki shoved the last piece of sausage in his mouth and chewed.

He wasn’t sure how to answer.

Izuku shifted in his chair, put off by Katsuki’s lack of an answer.

“Can I ask what caused you to snap like that?” Izuku prodded once more, hoping to keep the conversation going. “Was it because Uraraka touched you at all or was it because she touched your head? I want to avoid making you upset like that again if I can.”

“Neither,” Katsuki said, slumping into his chair. He put his claw against the edge of the plate and pressed down, tipping it upward. “Even if I don’t like it, I’m okay with people touching me when I know about it. But getting pet out of the blue is…not pleasant.”

“Is there a reason why?”

“No clue,” Katsuki said. He flicked his tail and his ears flattened against his head. “It’s been like that for as long as I can remember.”

“Oh,” Izuku said. The human’s stomach growled and he flushed. He cut a piece of sausage in half with his fork and ate a few pieces before he spoke up again. “Were all of the incidents in your report because of that? Someone touching you carelessly?”

“A few,” Katsuki admitted. He lifted his claw and let the plate clatter against the table. “But I wouldn’t get your hopes up. I was in control more often than I wasn’t.”

Izuku put his fork down and frowned at the table. “Which were which?”

Katsuki shrugged and crossed his arms back on the table. He rested his head in his arms and yawned. “I don’t remember what’s on the list so I can’t tell you off the top of my head.”

The human huffed and Katsuki cracked a smile.

“What was the first one? When you were a puppy at the dog show?” Izuku asked. “Was that an accident or on purpose?”

Katsuki shivered and hugged his arms tighter around himself. “I tasted blood in my mouth before I realized I’d bitten anyone, so I guess it was an accident.”

He’d almost been grateful for the snap at the time. The moment brought the world back into focus and gave him something to concentrate on that wasn’t the sheer panic he’d felt earlier standing in a room with so many people and thousands of eyes on him.

“And the second year you were entered to compete?”

“That was on purpose,” Katsuki said. He snorted and yawned into his arms. “I didn’t want to do the show and my owner didn’t listen to me.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Izuku said in a way that very clearly said “I don’t understand” but didn’t want to question him either. “What about that last one on the report? With the man where you—you know.”

The human stopped and gestured at his throat with a pale face.

“Oh,” Katsuki said, growling at the table. “Trust me, that was entirely done with intent and I wish I’d done worse.”

The misses was prone to bruising.

She’d always had a weak constitution and a little bump against a table edge or grabbing her arm too hard would turn the color of her skin. Katsuki didn’t understand how humans could be so fragile, but he’d been instructed as a puppy to be very careful when he was with his owner’s wife so he didn’t hurt her on accident.

It was common knowledge to anyone who knew her.

And why the bastard who’d been hurting the missus got away with it for so long.

The monster would have continued to get away with it had the man’s own pet not grown a conscious and ratted him out.

The shaking rabbit hybrid knelt near the bars of Katsuki’s open kennel, his ears alert and eyes wide as he looked over his shoulder. His neighbor’s pet had always been a timid thing, but he might have been the closest thing to a friend Katsuki had over the years with as much as he and his owner came over to visit.

But he’d never seen the rabbit so scared.

“Katsuki,” the rabbit said, slipping inside the kennel. His shaking claws tugged at his shirt, pulling hard enough to yank him out of his dog bed. “You need to help her.”

“Slow down, bunny,” Katsuki said, getting up. The rabbit continued clinging to his arm, his entire body trembling hard enough to rattle his collar. Katsuki felt his own fur stand on end. “What’s going on?”

“My owner,” he said, tugging harder on Katsuki’s arm. His furred feet slid on the tile of the floor and he was unable to move the larger hybrid. “You have to stop him.”

The bunny shoved at Katsuki’s back. “Hurry!”

“You haven’t told me what’s going on.”

“Go!” The rabbit yelled. “Before he hurts her!”

Katsuki felt more confused than he ever had in his life, but he heard a crash upstairs and gave up trying to wring answers out of his companion.

He raced upstairs and burst the door open in time to see his owner’s wife with tears in her eyes and the neighbor backhand her.

Instincts and rage overwhelmed Katsuki’s senses.

The missus’ screaming hurt his ears but he ignored it over the copper tang that filled his mouth when he went for the jugular. The human screamed and the entire scene went by in a rush, but Katsuki remembered the look of the man gasping on the ground with his blood-covered hands grasping around his torn open throat. He’d gotten a perfect view after the missus pulled Katsuki off with only adrenaline fueling her slim muscles.

Her tears and the rabbit yelling kept him from finishing the other man off. Katsuki stood in the middle of the room growling while both the missus and the rabbit cried over the wheezing man on the floor.

His owner came home fifteen minutes later to find the four of them covered in blood and called the police.

The man that attacked his owner’s wife lived and earned a few years in prison for assault, but Katsuki still ended up with a muzzle and lost his friend when the rabbit hybrid was given to a relative of the neighbor and moved away.

“The missus confessed later that the neighbor had been harassing her for years. He’d been hitting her or something, but I’m not sure about everything that happened behind closed doors,” Katsuki said, whispering into the table. “I don’t know why she didn’t tell anyone and no one told me the details, but it was bad enough that my owner wasn’t angry with her for lying so much.”

“Katsuki,” Izuku said. He folded his hands together. “I’m sorry. That must have been horrible.”

“It was years ago,” Katsuki said. After the neighbor was taken away, the missus felt lighter and he could see the improvement in her condition. She couldn’t look at Katsuki without flinching, but that was a small price to pay when she seemed so much happier. “I don’t regret it, either.”

Izuku shook his head. “You don’t seem like the type who would.”

Katsuki put his hands in his lap and squeezed the stuffed rabbit.

“Thank you for telling me,” Izuku said. He tried for a smile and picked up the empty plates from the table. He put them in the sink and walked over to the bar. “Though you still look pretty awful. Do you want to watch a movie or something to relax?”


Katsuki slipped off the stool and hopped over the couch immediately behind him. He settled into the couch and shoved the stuffed rabbit into the space between his side and the arm of the couch. He yawned wide and tapped his tail against the couch.

Izuku crouched near the television and stuck a movie into the player with a grin on his face before he returned to sit next to Katsuki.

“What’d you pick?”

“One of my favorites,” Izuku said. He pulled his legs up and crossed his arms over his knees. “It’s about a hiker that saves a wild hybrid in the woods. They become friends and fall in love.”

Katsuki snorted. “Why am I not surprised you picked something sappy that involves a hero?”

Izuku pressed play without shame and put the remote on the table. They watched in silence with a foot of space between them. Katsuki flicked his tail during the scene in the film where the wild hare said it was alright to be pet.

The human’s hand twitched during the scene and he wore the look of longing open on his face.

Katsuki thought it looked nice, too.

He’d forgotten how nice it could feel to have a warm touch against his fur and the soothing sensation of a gentle pat.

But he wasn’t ready yet.

Not yet.

Chapter Text

“Are you sure that’s the best idea?” Amajiki asked. His voice rose as he clarified. “Not that Eijirou wouldn’t love a new friend, I’m just wondering if that’d be best since they only met once.”

“Katsuki needs some friends of his own,” Izuku said into the speaker, keeping his voice down. Said dog Hybrid was napping in the bedroom, though Izuku had no idea if he had woken or could hear or not—though, Izuku would almost be happy to see the dog Hybrid mad he was being talked about. It would be a good change of pace from the naps and staring quietly at the television. “I don’t think he’s up for meeting with mine again after what happened, and I figured a dog he met once is better than one he’s never met.”

Izuku only knew one other person with a Hybrid, and Katsuki had only heard of Ibara and Tetsutetsu. They were still strangers, but he had been okay with Kirishima at the dog park.

It seemed like the best option.

“I suppose in that case a playdate would be all right.” Amajiki clapped his hands together on the other end. “Would you like to try the dog park again? Or maybe we could come to your place.”

“It might have to be the dog park,” Izuku said. “My apartment isn’t very large. There isn’t any room for the two of them to play. The leash will still be a problem, but at least the park would be more open.”

“That’s true—Eijirou. Sit! Hey!”

Izuku stared at the receiver as a small scuffle sounded on the other end. After a soft “All Right, all right!” from Tamaki, a new speaker got on the line.

“Katsuki can come to our place!” Kirishima said through the line. Izuku could almost see his tail wagging from his chipper voice. “We have a big fenced yard and everything! If he’s off the leash in the yard, no one has to know.”

“And you’d be okay with that?” Izuku asked, biting his lip. “You’re not worried?”

“Nope!” Kirishima shouted. Tamaki’s muffled voice filled the background, calling the dog Hybrid. Kirishima whined and huffed. “Okay, I’ll get off the phone.”

“I’m sorry about that, Eijirou overheard and got excited,” Amajiki said. Kirishima laughed on the other end and Izuku smiled. Amajiki said, “Eijirou loves to roughhouse and he’s tougher than he looks, so even if Katsuki started a fight, I think he’d be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Truth be told, Eijirou is a rescue from a Hybrid fighting ring,” Amajiki said, his voice reserved. “If worse comes to worse and there is a fight, I’d be more worried for Katsuki than Eijirou.”

It was hard to picture the chipper dog Hybrid Izuku had met in the park fighting in one of those brutal underground rings, but Tamaki didn’t seem the type to lie. Would it be worth it to risk things getting out of control if Kirishima and Katsuki got into a fight?

Izuku bit his lip.

It’d have to be.

He didn’t think he could handle another week of Katsuki so down and quiet. Izuku missed the manhandling and the gruff attitude. He’d only known the dog for a short time, but Katsuki wasn’t Katsuki if he wasn’t growling and owning the room.

“I’m sure nothing will happen as long as Kirishima doesn’t touch Katsuki,” Izuku said. “So would it be all right for him to come over and play?”

“Of course, let me know when you’re free and I’ll make sure we’re home.”

“Thank you!”

Izuku hung up the phone after confirming the time and date. He smiled, amused at how he’d been able to hear Kirishima excitedly list all the things he’d show Katsuki when they came over in the background of the call.

“Now I just have to tell Katsuki.”

He felt confident that he could drag the dog out of his shell and get him back to his domineering self.

“You were in a fighting ring.”

Katsuki wasted no time.

Izuku winced and bit his lip. Kirishima opened the door and Katsuki greeted him with that statement before he said “Hello” or “Thank you for having me.” At least it was better to get it out of the way.

Telling Katsuki about the fighting ring was the only way he’d been able to convince the Hybrid to visit.

“Yeah, but that was a few years ago.” Kirishima shrugged and stepped back, letting Katsuki follow him in. His tail didn’t wag, but the other Hybrid continued to smile and look welcoming, despite the rude comment. “It’s not as interesting as it sounds.”

“More like hard to believe.” Katsuki scrunched his nose behind the muzzle. “You’re so…happy.”

“Because I have a happy home!” Kirishima said and his tail lifted, wagging. He grabbed a ball and a knotted rope toy out of a basket as he led Katsuki and Izuku through the house. “That makes all the difference. If you’d seen me back then, you wouldn’t have recognized me.”

Katsuki grunted and didn’t ask anything else.

“Izuku! Katsuki!” Amajiki said. He came out of the kitchen with a tray of snacks, half for humans and half for Hybrids. “You made it.”

“Of course,” Izuku said. He went to Amajiki and pointed at the tray. “Do you need any help?”

“No, Mirio has it.” Amajiki turned over his shoulder and called out. “You can put the lemonade on the porch table when you’re done, Mirio.”

“You’ve got it, Tamaki!” Togata called back from the kitchen. He popped his head out the door with a tray full of glasses and a large pitcher. “We are more than ready to entertain!”

Amajiki grinned and looked at Izuku. “Shall we watch the pups play?”

Izuku followed the home’s hosts to the back porch and whistled at the tall fence that surrounded their yard. The top of the fence stood two heads over Katsuki’s height, fully hiding the occupants from the neighbors.

They hadn’t been kidding about it being private enough for Katsuki to play as he pleased. Katsuki unhooked his leash and sat it on a table before answering Kirishima’s excited calls to come play catch in the far corner of the yard.

“Were you able to get Katsuki a phone?” Tamaki asked, pouring Izuku a glass of lemonade. “I imagine after this that Eijirou will want to call him.”

“Not yet,” Izuku said. He sat next to Togata and put his hands in his lap. “It’s next on the list, though.”

He had to snag one more reoccurring job before he could afford another line on his plan.

“But Eijirou is welcome to call any time,” Izuku said. “I’ll be more than happy to pass the phone over.”

“I’ll be sure to let him know.”

The afternoon passed with small chat and Kirishima’s excited laughter and demands of “Let’s do this next!” Izuku watched the excited dog drag Katsuki around the yard with his voice, careful not to physically touch the other Hybrid.

Katsuki appreciated it, too, and Izuku swore he caught a smile grace the pet’s face at least once (though it was when Kirishima ran into the fence because he wasn’t looking where he was going).

“Eijirou! Katsuki!” Amajiki called. He collected the dishes from the snacks and drinks and stacked them on a tray. “It’s time for Midoriya and Katsuki to leave!”

“Already?” Kirishima whined. His ears dropped against his head and he trotted over, covered in dirt from rolling in the grass. “It’s only been a few hours!”

“And it’s late,” Amajiki said. “I’m sure that Izuku and Katsuki would like to get home for supper.”

“They could eat here!” Kirishima said. His tail dropped and ears lowered back as he turned to his master. Kirishima clasped both hands together and tilted his head like a manipulative puppy. “Please?”

“No,” Katsuki said. He cuffed Kirishima behind the head with his knuckles. He left Kirishima whining and rubbing the back of his head to retrieve his leash. “Save some of it for next time. I’m tired.”

“Next time?” Kirishima’s tail wagged in delight. It sped up as Kirishima inched closer to Katsuki. The tags on his collar rattled with his entire body vibrating in joy. “You want to come over again?”

Katsuki shrugged. “It wasn’t the worst, so why not?”

“Yes!” Kirishima shouted. He stepped closer and wagged his tail. “I want to hug you. Can I do that?”

Katsuki frowned and dropped his ears back. “No.”

“Okay, I’ll just have to hug him in your place.” Kirishima turned to Izuku and grinned wide, showing off sharp teeth. The other dog Hybrid tackled Izuku in a hug, lifting him off the ground in strong arms. “Thank you so much for letting Katsuki come to play!”

“Any time,” Izuku said, struggling to breath through the tight hug. Why did Hybrids have to be so strong? “It was fun.”

“Enough hugging,” Katsuki said, a growl in his voice. He pulled on the back of Kirishima’s collar and tugged him off. “I want to go home.”

Kirishima dropped Izuku and hopped to sit on the porch table. “Come back soon!”

Izuku took the end of the leash when Katsuki handed it to him. Amajiki led the two back to the front door of the house and goodbyes were said.

He waited until they were a few blocks away before asking, “Did you have a good time with Kirishima? It looked like it.”

“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have offered to come back.” Katsuki walked faster, yanking his end of the leash to drag Izuku behind him. “Stop dawdling. I’m hungry.”

Izuku laughed and let Katsuki drag him on the walk back to the busy stop to catch their ride home.

“What a day.” Izuku crawled into bed and got under the blankets. Next to him, Katsuki had curled up on his side, with his head on the pillow and faithful stuffed rabbit under his arm. He chewed on the ear, half asleep. “That tired me out.”

“You sat on the porch and drank lemonade all afternoon,” Katsuki mumbled, snuggling deeper into the pillow. “How is that tiring?”

“Watching you and Kirishima play was exhausting,” Izuku said. He pulled the blankets toward his face and smiled into them. After hearing about Kirishima’s past, he worried Katsuki might not be able to keep up—but Katsuki’s muscles weren’t for show. He kept toe to toe with the other dog whether they played a game of tag or raced to see who could fetch the fastest. “Where do you have all that energy?”

“Hybrids are stronger, that’s just how it is,” Katsuki said. He huffed and rolled over, shoving Izuku’s shoulder under the blanket. “Go to bed if you’re so tired.”

“I am, I am!” Izuku said. He forced his eyes to close and exhaled. “Night, Katsuki.”


When Katsuki’s breathing evened out, Izuku opened his eyes again. He rolled onto his side to watch the dog Hybrid sleep and swore that he looked lighter. A day out with friends was just what Katsuki needed.

As Izuku yawned, he felt sleep about to claim him too.

Katsuki rolled over again and threw an arm over Izuku—that woke him up immediately. The Hybrid’s warm body covered Izuku and he found his face in Katsuki’s neck. His nose brushed the leather collar the dog Hybrid never took off.

Unlike a real dog, Katsuki smelled good—musky and deep.

Izuku’s heart raced in his chest and he scrunched his eyes shut, forcing himself to stay still before he woke the Hybrid. Katsuki snuggled closer in his sleep, holding Izuku tight like he was a replacement for his stuffed rabbit.

He felt Katsuki’s breath in his hair and relaxed.

Izuku would deal with the consequences in the morning. He dared to touch Katsuki’s side and snuggle back, inching closer.

He fell asleep counting Katsuki’s heartbeats.