“Hey, loser,” Kacchan said. He grabbed the brim of Izuku’s hat and tugged down. Izuku winced as it caught in the back of his curls, but thankfully Kacchan didn’t take it off. His red eyes—Izuku swallowed—narrowed in confusion. “What’s with the ball cap?”
Izuku put both his hands on his head to hold the hat in place, his hands hidden in his long sleeves. Kacchan’s fingers remained on the brim as he turned his head to look under it to see Izuku’s face. “I wanted to try a new look.”
“Try again,” Kacchan said. He let go and threw his school bag over his shoulder. He walked past Izuku toward the train station, grumpier than usual. Izuku trotted behind him, pulling the cap back into place to shade his eyes and face. Kacchan kept his eyes straight ahead as he asked, “Is that what you did all summer when you dropped off the face of the planet? Shop for clothes?”
“I already told you that there was no reception at my dad’s place. Someone hit the cell tower with a car and knocked it out,” Izuku said. He crossed his arms and looked at the ground, sticking to the lie he’d told his mother as well. “He really is out in the middle of nowhere and it took forever to fix the thing.”
“He didn’t have a landline?” Kacchan asked. “Your mom said you didn’t call her either.”
“No,” Izuku said, shrugging hard. At least that one wasn’t a lie or he wasn’t sure how he would have fooled his mother. Izuku worked up a soft smile for his friend. “I’m sorry I worried you all summer.”
“I wasn’t worried!” Kacchan snapped. He clenched his hands into fists and Izuku licked his lip as the other boy’s heartbeat increased. Kacchan huffed and shoved his hands into his school uniform pockets. “Why’d you go decide to stay at his place for the summer anyway?”
Convenience, Izuku thought.
“I haven’t seen him in a while and I wanted to make sure I got to before I went to college,” Izuku said. “He calls and writes all the time, but sometimes you just want to see someone in person, you know?”
Kacchan grunted, his shoulders dropping. He pressed his lips together and his face relaxed from the scowl. “Yeah. It must be tough with him overseas all the time.”
“We make it work.” Izuku dropped his arms and reached up to hold the straps of his backpack. “I am glad to be home, though. I missed you and everyone else.”
“Don’t get mushy, Deku.”
Izuku squeezed the straps of his backpack. Kacchan walked a step faster, face still firmly ahead. His scowl returned, though the twitch in his lip hinted more embarrassment than anger.
He’d missed Izuku, too.
“Don’t forget to eat.”
Izuku narrowed his eyes at the message on his phone. He deleted it and shoved it back in his pocket. Izuku had half a mind to delete and block the contact entirely, but that would make it worse.
He finished packing up his things after a restless school day of answering to his friends where he’d been, telling the same thing he’d told Kacchan earlier that morning. It appeased a few, but Uraraka and Iida were still hurt he hadn’t at least told them where he was going.
Kacchan had only found out where Izuku had supposedly had gone by asking Izuku’s mother.
“What a mess,” Izuku muttered.
He shoved his last notebook in his bag and threw it over his shoulder. Kacchan had already left with Kirishima, having gotten even closer to the other boy in Izuku’s absence.
They weren’t obligated to walk home together, but it still stung he hadn’t been invited to join.
“It might be for the best,” Izuku said.
His days were numbered as it was…but that was also why he wanted as much time with Kacchan as he could get.
Depending on what he chose, he may never seen his friend again after the school year ended.
Izuku licked his lip and left, making sure to put his cap back on before he went outside. They hadn’t invited him, but he knew neither Kacchan nor Kirishima would tell him to leave if he happened to run into them.
Katsuki checked his phone, leaning against the inner wall of an alley he’d cut through as a shortcut. His finger hovered over Deku’s name but didn’t touch the screen. Kirishima had to leave early and Katsuki was tempted to see if Deku wanted to hang out instead.
But he also didn’t want to look clingy.
Just because his first real friend had disappeared without a word for three months didn’t mean it was the end of the world.
It had just been the summer and Deku only just got home.
“He probably wants to catch up with his mom or those other friends of his.” Katsuki closed the window and shoved his phone back in his pocket. He pushed off the wall and headed further into the alley. “I’ll call him later.”
He kicked a can as he went and it bounced around the corner and smacked into something—that tripped over it.
A man hit the pavement, face first. Grease covered his hair so thick that it looked like sludge, and dirt clung to his body. The man winced and scrambled to his feet, scratching his hands.
“Are you oka—”
The stranger smacked his sweaty palm over Katsuki’s mouth and grabbed him, shoving him into a nook in the wall and covered him. He smelled horrible and Katsuki wanted to gag, pushing at his body but he couldn’t get the guy to budge. His hand covered Katsuki’s nose and mouth, making it impossible to breath.
“I think he went this way!”
Katsuki’s throat burned as he struggled to breath and the man pushed them both harder against the wall, forcing him to stay still and quiet. His own wild and wide eyes stayed locked on his periphery.
The sounds of stomping feet ran by, missing the two of them.
The man sucked in a breath and Katsuki longed to do the same. His vision blacked as the stranger continued to keep him pinned, almost forgetting he’d trapped Katsuki there.
When all sounds left the alley, the stranger relaxed enough for Katsuki to make one last desperate effort to free himself before he passed out and he put all of his strength into freeing his leg from the full body pin and kneeing the man in the groin.
The stranger fell away from the wall and hissed as he hunched over, tears welling in his eyes. “You little shit!”
Katsuki dove out of the nook and grabbed his bag, making a run for it. He didn’t know who that guy was, but he was trouble and Katsuki did not need a police interview on his records identifying some crook.
“Oh, no you don’t!” The man yelled.
The stranger grabbed Katsuki’s arm and yanked him back hard enough to rip his arm from the socket.
The man slammed his hand back over Katsuki’s face to muffle the scream, cutting off his voice once more.
Izuku ran, using the back alleys as cover to hide his pace from prying eyes.
If he remembered right, Kacchan and Kirishima were going to the arcade and the alley that he needed to cut through would be just up—
A man that smelled like sewage had his filthy hands over Kacchan’s mouth, shoving him against a wall. Izuku gritted his teeth, feeling the canines grow and he knew his eyes were no longer green as the rage filled him. Kacchan’s eyes were rolled back and his right arm hung limp. The other clutched to the man’s dirty coat, his nails turning black with the filth.
Blood dripped from Kacchan’s head where it’d been hit against the brick of the building wall.
“That’s right, hurry up and die,” the man muttered. Kacchan’s heartbeat slowed, struggling with the lack of oxygen. He watched the man smirk in satisfaction as Kacchan’s body went limp. “The last thing I need is a witness.”
“Kacchan!” Izuku screamed.
His fist cracked into the man’s nose, slamming the man into the concrete on the opposite side of the alley. Kacchan hit the ground and Izuku dropped to check his pulse. The smell of blood filled his nose and drool gathered at the corners of his lips from the delicious smell, but he had more important things to check.
Izuku found a steady pulse.
He turned Kacchan on his side and put his head down, swallowing in relief.
“What the hell?” Kacchan’s attacker asked. He rolled over and got to his feet, stumbling. His nose had bent entirely onto the side, broken and bleeding. “What was that?”
Izuku turned his eyes to the man that dared to hurt Kacchan and growled.
The man’s blood smelled horrible.
But it’d do.