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Open My Chest and Colour My Spine

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The thing about Mitsuki is that she thinks what she does is NORMAL. She’s naturally aggressive, and apparently no one ever told her that taking it out on human beings was immoral. She didn’t think it was wrong.

Katsuki was the same way, of course. Born with an impressive amount of aggression, raised on it, fed into it, etc etc etc.

Thing is, he learns that it’s not normal.

He learns the very first day of school, when he slaps Izuku for stealing a block or something and, what the hell, did no one ever scold his mother for backhanding someone? Because he was practically in tears by the time his time-out was over, and he never ever wants to hit anyone again, not if this radiating disappointment coming from his teacher is any indication of how it would go.

So he knows it’s not normal. He knows it’s wrong. Does he tell anyone? Hell no, because that would make him the VICTIM. The sniveling weakling who couldn’t handle some pain. She could dish it out all she wanted- he could take it. And, eventually, the humiliation of being scolded wore off, and he reverted back to his natural aggressive tendencies.

He goes over to the Midoriya’s quite a bit. Everything is soft there- easygoing, quiet, scarce. Izuku’s mom makes them healthy snacks and lets them play in the backyard and when one of them falls down, she puts a band-aid over the hurt spot and hugs them real tight. Izuku always cries when he falls down, but Katsuki doesn’t. He rips off the bandages on his walk home. Weak.

“Geez, that Midoriya kid sure is a crybaby, huh?” She says one night after Izuku and Inko walked him home. “You’re gonna see each other at school next week. Nothing to sob over.” Katsuki shrugs.

“He says that he’s got more emotions than other kids.” Mitsuki scoffs.

“That’s bull. He just doesn’t have a strong enough hold on em is all.” She gives him an easy smile. “I’m glad you’re not like that.”

“Whatever,” he mutters. “I’m gonna go do homework.”

“What homework? You’re nine!” She calls after him, and for a moment, he thinks she’s called his bluff. But then- “I’m just screwin’ with ya, kid. Keep working hard. If you fall behind I’ll kill you, got that?” He nods.

Izuku and Katsuki drift apart shortly thereafter. Their moms still hang out, and Katsuki wonders if Inko knows about all of the awful things Mitsuki says about her son behind her back.

By the time both boys are thirteen, they’ve barely made small talk for a year. Katsuki only kind of appreciates Izuku’s compliance of the whole thing. On one hand, he’s leaving behind the only person who saw him as a little kid. His “equal” or whatever. But, on another, it annoys him how damn weak he is. Stupid Deku and his stupid easygoing personality and stupid people-pleasing nature.

(It has nothing to do with the fact that a part of him as shocked that he could throw away his childhood best friend like that. And not in a good way, either. He feels ashamed.)

He’s falling behind. Which is absolutely invisible to anyone on the outside- he’s at the top of his class, he’s the strongest out of all his friends, and he’s got more control over his quirk than he ever had before.

But he feels it.

Deep in his belly, watery and thin-skinned and frail, something creeping up behind him and scratching at the back of his skull. Skitting around behind his forehead, always there, always whispering to him.

“Weak.”

The first time she hits him- really hits him, hard enough to do damage, he doesn’t cry. He doesn’t curl up or run away or shake like a leaf. He hits back, is what he does.

“Dammit, Katsuki! That hurt, you little-“

“Come on, you two,” Masaru warns, gently.

Mitsuki sends him a glare, stands up to her full height, then storms off. He doesn’t move from his spot. He doesn’t... trust his legs not to give out or anything like that. She comes back moments later with an ice pack, which he stares at stubbornly before taking it and placing it on his eye.

“There’s gonna be a bruise, most likely,” she sighs. “Anyone asks, what do you say?”

“I tell em you hit kids,” he spits at her.

“Wrong. You got into a fight,” she said. “And you lost. Remember that, Katsuki.”

He does.

He remembers it the next time, too. No, no, there’s no trouble at home, some guys jumped him after school. He wears long sleeves most of the time, anyways, so what’s it to ya?

Masaru doesn’t help. Not the first time, not the second, and not the eleventh. Not when Katsuki is pouting on the couch, the ice pack on his head not helping to ease the pounding headache he’d been given for being “mouthy.” Not later, when he stops talking at dinner. Not when it’s bad enough to call a doctor, because he’s certain he has a concussion, but lying to a doctor is harder than lying to some extras at school. He doesn’t help at all.

“I’m sorry it’s like this,” he says, just once, standing awkwardly in Katsuki’s doorway.

“Why do you stay?” He asks, voice raw from the screaming match he and his mother had.

“Because I love her,” Masaru explains. “And I can’t leave her. Not for anything in the world.”

“Not even for me?” He asks.

His father goes quiet for a little bit, before mumbling a barely audible “goodnight” and leaving his son with an empty heart.

Something happens. A fight. He doesn’t know for sure. All that he knows is that he’s angry, and numb, and full of pride, and he tells Deku something really nasty and horrible- so horrible that even his ever-loyal followers are shocked; but he swallows down his guilt and chooses to be stubborn instead of owning up to his mistake, like always.

And then he’s choking. There are cameras, and people screaming, but he’s still fighting, through the muck and slime and all of it. Because if he doesn’t put up a fight, if he doesn’t fool everyone into thinking he’s strong enough to beat this villain, he’ll die a coward.

And, for a moment, he doesn’t care.

It would be a blow to his mother’s pride, that’s for damn sure. Yeah, yeah, he can take a few punches and kicks, maybe a hair yank or two, because she’s not nearly as strong as the MONSTER that was wrapping around his body.

But then someone is helping him, FINALLY helping him, so he’s able to gasp for air again as his vision clears. He looks down.

“... Deku?”

The kid looks up at him with big, watery eyes and says something about running without choice or.... SOMETHING, he knows it was SOMETHING, but his ears are kinda clogged.

“Go away,” he rasps out.

He can’t see for a while, can’t breathe or think. Maybe he went unconscious, who knows? Who CARES, for that matter? The next thing he knows, he’s on the ground, and All Might is there, and it’s raining, so no one can tell if he’s crying or not. Which he isn’t!

(But maybe he can’t tell for sure, either.)

He has to talk to some people for a little bit. Reporters, heroes, policemen. By the time he’s on his way home (no one came to pick him up, of course), the sun is setting.

He turns a corner and runs into Izuku. Standing next to him is a tall, skeletal man wearing baggy clothes. He pauses.

“Kaachan!” Izuku yelps. “Um... how are you?”

“Fine,” he mutters. “Uh... hey, listen, I didn’t need your help, okay?”

“... oh, right, of course! You were really strong. I got attacked by that villain earlier, and I barely lasted a minute before All Might...” he trails off. The skeletal man rests a hand on his shoulder. Katsuki narrows his eyes.

“You didn’t let me finish,” he hisses. “I... I was fine without your help!” Izuku swallows visibly, but nods. “But- I... appreciate it, or whatever.” His gaze nervously shifts to the adult in their presence, but he grits his teeth and continues. “And I... I messed up earlier, got it? I didn’t mean it. So don’t... do anything stupid!”

“What happened earlier?” The man asks.

“Nothing,” Izuku hurriedly fills in. “It’s alright, Yagi.” Katsuki shuffles a bit.

“Hey, Deku, who is this guy, anyways?”

“I’m Toshinori Yagi,” the man introduces himself, sticking out a hand. He doesn’t take it. “I’m seeing Izuku’s mother.”

“Oh,” Katsuki says. “Right.”

He doesn’t linger a moment longer than that- the day has already stripped him of his pride and replaced it with deep, burning humiliation, he doesn’t need Izuku’s desperate attempts at small talk to make up for lost time on top of it.

Yagi and Izuku call out their goodbyes as he turns away, but he doesn’t reply. They’re not FRIENDS. It’s just been a weird day.

Cold dread fills his belly as he nears his house, and he realizes more than ever before that he screwed up. He hasn’t fallen behind, or made a mistake, he SCREWED. UP. He let himself be weak in front of people, in front of CAMERAS, made himself just what he’s been trying to avoid his whole life- a victim.

He opens the door, and all he sees is her.

“Mama,” he says, lowly.

“No,” she says. “We don’t do that here. Don’t think now that you’ve pulled this weak crap that I’m gonna start... nurturing you.”

“Mom-“

“Shut UP, Katsuki!” She screeches. “I can’t believe you!! You’ve been working your whole life to get somewhere, you wanna be stuck with the victim role forever?!”

“NO, Mom, I-“

“I’m going to my room,” she says, rubbing her temples. “Make dinner yourself. Or don’t, I don’t care. You’re in big trouble.”

“Mom, I was scared!” He shouts, stomping his foot. “I thought I was gonna die! Are you just... okay with that??”

“Of course I’m not!! I am VERY clearly upset with you right now!!”

He shouts out and kicks the wall, knocking a portrait to the ground. It’s a picture of his father and mother holding him as a baby- but the glass is shattered, now. The illusion of a happy family is gone. The room falls quiet for a second, him staring at the floor while his mother stares at him in quiet shock.

And then she lunges at him.

He’s going to have to blame it on the slime monster, he realizes- with fear, because everyone would know it’s a lie. Why would fresh bruises show up after he iced his injuries? How would he even develop these kinds of bruises from the thing?

He normally fights back. He gets angry and he fights back, hard, until it’s over.

He already said it’s been a weird day.

She’s shouting, spitting verbal abuse at him while she lands punches, kicks, pinches. It’s not that he’s letting her, necessarily, he just isn’t resisting. There’s no more fight left in him for today.

But he realizes something, between getting his face clawed and his gut kicked, and it almost knocks the wind out of him.

She DOES know.

She KNOWS it’s not normal.

She KNOWS you don’t hurt your kids.

She KNOWS he’s too young, always has been.

And she still does it.

This whole time, he figured that she didn’t know better. That maybe she was never disciplined as a kid and didn’t learn not to hit people as a result. Or maybe she was disciplined too harshly, and just decided to base her entire parenting style on it. But the ugly truth is that she’s an adult, and she’s older, and stronger, and she knows better.

“Mitsuki, stop it!”

Katsuki stares past his mother to see none other than Inko Midoriya, trusted family friend of the Bakugous and mother of the kid who just tried to save his ass on national television.

Yeah, that wasn’t going to resonate well with his mother. Not now.

“Inko,” Mitsuki mutters under her breath, rolling off of her son. She smooths her skirt. “Hey, Izuku’s pretty tough, huh? Didn’t think he had it in him.” She rolls her eyes a bit. “At least one of our kids turned out to be useful.”

“What the Hell was that about?” Inko asks, wide-eyed, ignoring her remark. “You were... on TOP of him. You-“

“Katsuki and I got into a fight,” she replies coolly. “And, frankly, it’s none of your business. I don’t ask if you and Izuku have a tiff.”

“That wasn’t just a... ‘tiff.’ You were...” she brings her hands to her mouth. “His face...”

Katsuki brings one hand up to his cheek, and his stomach lurches when he sees it’s come back bloodied. He looks up at his mother, eyelids heavy and grin crooked.

“Jesus, old woman,” he slurs. “You really did a number on me.”

And he faints.

—————————————————————

“Katsuki, I’m sure you know Ms. Midoriya well.”

The lady speaking is pencil-sharp. Smooth, shiny black hair, defined cheekbones, dark red lipstick, and a grey outfit. She was the picture of intimidation, and yet her voice was so soft and sweet. Comforting, even. It wasn’t delicate, or fragile. Just... soft.

“Yeah,” he grunts.

His left cheek aches. He didn’t need stitches, thankfully, but the scratches are being held together by some nasty smelling medical tape, and the whole this is covered by a bandage.

He hates bandages. They’re for pussies.

He’s holding an ice pack to his right eye. He doesn’t really want to- it’s cold, he’s tired, and his arm hurts; but every time he pulls away, the pencil lady gives him this worried look, like if he refuses to heal, her put-together facade will crumble, and she’ll have no idea what to do. And, frankly, that’s not something he has the energy to put up with.

“You’re going to be staying with her family,” she says. “She’s your godmother, and we’ve already reviewed her house and deemed it safe for you. Do you understand?”

“Jesus,” he scoffs, smiling crookedly. “I don’t need a damn... lifejacket. I can swim.”

“Of course you can,” Pencil-Lady assures him. “But it’s our job to make sure we don’t put you in another dangerous household.”

Oh.

“... Right.”

“Yes,” she says. “Now that we’ve got that covered, there are some medical issues we need to cover. Ms. Midoriya is covering the expenses for your current damage, but I noticed that your m.... that Mitsuki was paying for your hormone replacement therapy.”

Pencil-Lady gives him a look, and his stomach churns. It’s pity, he realizes. She pities him.

“I just wanted to let you know that you may need to come off of testosterone if it’s too expensive. Unfortunately, you are moving into a more low-income household, and-“

“Whatever,” he snaps. “I’ll deal.”

She blinks at him. Shit, the facade. He’s supposed to be collected or whatever.

“... That’s very brave of you, Katsuki,” she says, softer than before. His lip curls.

“Sure.”

The ride to the Midoriyas’ is awkward. Inko keeps muttering and shooting him nervous glances, as if he’s going to break down at any minute. He guesses he shouldn’t blame her, really. He’s had one hell of a stressful day. Anyone weaker would have cracked.

“Um..” she begins. “I’ve set up a therapy appointment.” He glares out the window.

“Cancel it,” he mutters. “Don’t need that shit.”

“You might change your mind,” she says. “It could be helpful. In your transition.”

He closes his eyes. God, the world was REALLY testing him today. He feels ready to sleep himself to death.

Alright, Katsuki. Swallow your pride for two damn seconds. You can deal with it later.

“... Alright, fine. Damn villain is probably gonna screw with my dreams anyways, right? Better to be prepared than...” he trails off.

“Villain?” Inko questions.

“Uh, yeah. Don’t you own a screen? A slime villain. It got me.” He hunches his back. “I almost... lost. I stopped fighting.”

The car goes silent for a moment after that. He knows how it sounds, really. But he can’t handle it right now. Give him a damn break.

“Yeah,” Inko breathes, pulling into their driveway. “Yeah. Alright.”