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Izuku rolled over on his battered mattress in the corner as he felt his stomach growl. With a whine, the teen shimmied onto the floor and half-crawled ten feet into the kitchen. Pushing up with the counter’s help, he then peered into the buzzing refrigerator just to find it empty save a couple cans of beer and a molding pack of hot dogs. Izuku’s stomach cried in disappointment as he took a step off the kitchen’s tiled floor and onto the living room’s wooden one.

His father was supposed to go to the store this morning.

Izuku sighed, weary legs carrying his thin form to the bathroom. Under a flickering yellow light, the boy peered at what was supposed to be his reflection. Dark bags circled under his murky, green eyes. Rats nests ruined his unkept curls. New scars ran down his sickly pale skin.

This couldn’t be his reflection, Izuku thought. And yet it was. This was what he had become: a hollow shell.

Izuku wanted nothing more than collapse into his mother’s warm arms, hell, anyone’s arms if they were gentle enough -- but he couldn’t do that anymore.

At this thought, a broken sob ran up his throat but never escaped; Izuku wouldn’t let it escape. The boy had no more tears left to cry.

Splashing water onto his face, he switched off the bathroom light and dragged himself to the window. Cautiously, cold fingers pulled back the black curtain to peek outside.

His eyes braced themselves for the light of day just to look out and see darkness. It must have been night, grumbled Izuku — not that Hisashi kept a clock in the house for the teen to check.

The curtain fell back in place, lazily swaying back and forth in a hypnotizing dance before settling. The tired boy stood stiffly in place for a few more seconds before wandering over to the ripped sofa. Along the way, he stumbled, slowly looking down to see a chinese take-out box from however many days ago. Bending down through a slash of pain, Izuku picked it up and peered inside.

His stomach growled again.

A sudden wave of anger over took the boy, and he chucked the box toward the trash bin. It didn’t go nearly far enough however, and instead tumbled across the cold floor. Izuku cursed before collapsing onto the groaning couch.

What did he do to deserve this?

Exhausted from asking that question far too many times, he closed his eyes and let cold darkness overtake him. Next thing he knew a loud banging was echoing through the apartment.

Immediately Izuku was on edge, falling to the floor and getting close to the ground so a bullet wouldn’t get a straight shot at him through the window.

“OI, FUCKER! OPEN UP BEFORE I KNOCK THIS DOOR DOWN AND BREAK YOUR FUCKIN’ NECK!”

Fuck, thought the small boy, Hisashi never left any weapons in the apartment -- just always kept them on his person.

More banging sounded, causing Izuku to involuntarily cower closer to the floor. Would he have to crawl out the window? Was he strong enough to escape? No, as soon as he left he would be completely at the mercy of the streets. He’d never make it to a better part of the city. He had nowhere to go anyway.

The knocking soon morphed into kicking, terrifying the boy even more. If Hisashi saw the door broken down… Izuku didn’t want to even think about what punishment his father would create.

Crawling forward, he stopped just short of the wooden barrier. Maybe he should open the door -- if whoever was on the other side decided to kill the boy then at least he wouldn’t have to worry about his father’s rath any longer.

With a shaky breath he pushed up to his feet, unlatching the chain and undoing a few bolts. Slowly he began to pull the door open just to have it forcefully pushed the rest of the way, causing the unsteady teen to stumble back a few steps.

“Finally! Time to pay up fucke…” Burning red eyes narrowed at the sight of Izuku’s shivering form. Izuku blinked, staring at a boy about his age with spiky blonde hair, multiple piercings, a thick, black hoodie, combat boots, and a gun.

A very real gun.

Red eyes narrowed even further and a deep scowl appeared on the teen’s features. “Who the fuck are you?”

Izuku took a step back, heart beating loudly and cold sweat rolling down his temple. He didn’t want to show any weakness, but the truth of the matter was that he was weak. With his mouth unhelpfully opening and closing, crimson eyes took in Izuku’s small apartment. He then took one large step in and closed the door behind.

“Midoriya Hisashi. Name ring a bell? If not, let me know so I can snap your spine and get on my merry way.” The blonde had suddenly become unnaturally calm, just standing there with his gun loosely swing back and forth.

“U-uh.”

The longer Izuku stared at the boy the more he started to panic. He should be watching the gun, but all he could focus on was those eyes. Why did they look so familiar?

A strong hand landing on his frail form shook Izuku from his musings. The gun to his head also didn’t help.

“He’s… he’s… uh.. he’s not… here… r-right, right now.”

Really,” the blonde suddenly snarled. “You wouldn’t happen to know where he is, now would you, scum?” Red eyes glared right into Izuku, and the smaller boy curled in on himself, wishing he was wearing long sleeves -- wishing he had something to cover up the disgusting scars snaking down his pale arms.

“N-no… I don’t… no.”

The cold barrel of the gun pressed deep into his dirty curls, and the boy began hyperventilating, eyes gaining a far away look. He didn't want to die. He just wanted the pain to stop. “I-I… I don’t… know… no, no, no… no… I’m so-sorry, so sorry, I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry--”

“OI! Fuck, get a grip, you deku!”

Izuku mind instantly blanked as he took in those red eyes. He knew those red eyes.

Desperalty, the boy dove forward and latched his arms around the other teem while a sob broke free. His weak knees then gave out when the larger teen cursed and shoved him back, gun pointed out.

Izuku’s breathing became more rapid at the sight of the gun’s barrel. Pain… Izuku hated pain. How much would a bullet hurt? Then again, those red eyes promised they’d protect Izuku from the monsters a long time ago.

With the world becoming hazy, all Izuku could do was whisper “Kacchan” before his weak body crumpled into darkness.

A few minutes later, assumed Izuku, he awoke on the couch to a string of curses. Through languid blinks, he observed Kacchan pacing back and forth, hand still tight around his gun.

“Kacchan?” he whispered, causing conflagrant eyes to lock on to his prone form.

Shut up.”

“Kach—”

“Don’t CALL me that!” With the sudden shout, the smaller boy whimpered and curled into a fetal position.

The blonde immediately quited. “Fuck, I didn’t,” and then through gritted teeth cursed, “FUCK!”

Izuku wrapped his arms around himself as he heard Kacchan punch the wall. The tiny apartment fell quite once again until Kacchan started carefully walking toward the shivering ball the was Izuku.

“God dammit, Deku. Why the hell are you here?” The blonde’s deep voice was gentle, not matching his rough words.

The weak teen struggled to push himself into a seated position before locking on to red eyes, which took in the smaller boy’s broken form.

Those warm orbs flicked to the floor. “You weren’t supposed to be here.”

Kacchan then turned away and grabbed a rickety, wooden chair from the corner before placing it in front of the couch and tiredly sitting down. “Didn’t you move like ten years ago?”

Izuku straightened his posture, heart rate slowing down at the inconspicuous weariness of the other teen’s voice.

“T-twelve.”

“Fuck, how long have you been back in town?” Red eyes closed as Kacchan’s head tilted back, causing his adam’s apple to jut out.

“Maybe half a year… I don’t… really know anymore.” His voice broke at the end and red eyes were back to glaring at him. “My mom died and Hisashi is my… father… so.”

“Fuck, you’re last name’s Midoriya?” The blonde’s eyes now flicked between Izuku’s small body and the door.

“U-uh, yeah. Midoriya Izuku. Um, s-sorry, I only remember calling you Kacchan. It’s… it’s been a while.”

The blonde tilted the gun in his hand before clicking the safety. “No shit. Bakugou Katsuki.”

“R-right.”

Twiddling his thumbs, Izuku’s stomach growled, and he immediately curled in on himself, a normally faint blush popping out on his sickly face.

The gun was placed on the small coffee table.

“Listen, Deku. Hisashi owes my boss a fuck ton of money. Fact of the matter is that he’s either skipped town or is bleeding out in some alleyway. Either way, boss is gonna want payback.” Red eyes hardened. “In the end, you’re that payback.”

Izuku’s heart stopped in his throat while maintaining eye contact with the teen across from him.

He had been so stupid! This wasn’t the Kacchan he knew; this was some gang member come to blow his father’s brains out. This was the world Izuku’s mother was trying to protect him from.

He stumbled off the couch and tried to run toward the door only to be caught by a large hand around his small wrist.

“Fuck, Deku!”

The boy started struggling, yet he knew he didn’t have the energy to win a fight. Being shot by Kacchan was one thing -- being at the mercy of a gang leader was another.

“Deku! Calm Down!” Katsuki’s voice reverberated in Izuku’s ear, sounding deceptively desperate. “I’m not gonna let them hurt you, you idiot!”

“W-what?”

Suddenly he was being pulled into a warm hug, and while his mind cried for him to stay on edge, Izuku missed being held.

“I said I’d protect you, didn’t I?! Well I’m many things but a liar ain’t one of them!” With that, he pushed Izuku back a little. “God... you’re so small.”

Suddenly, Izuku was being dragged along, the larger boy grumbling about how there was nothing in the shitty apartment that couldn’t be replaced.

“B-but, Kacchan--”

“--Shut up. Boss doesn’t know Hisashi has a kid, so you’ll be safe as long as it stays that way.”

“B-but Kacchan--”

“--You’ll be staying with my folks. We live in a different part of town these days, so you should be fine. I just got a few debts to pay here and I’m out of this hell hole for good.”

They were now briskly moving down the buildings metal staircase, Izuku struggling to keep up.

“K-Kacchan, stop!”

“We don’t have time to stop, idiot.”

“No. No. No,” he chanted, desperately tugging at the larger boy.

WHAT!”

Shrinking back, Izuku made himself look even smaller in the cold night’s air. “I-I can’t go with you. If your boss finds out what you did, you and your family will be at risk, right? I can’t do that to you.”

They stood there for a moment in the deadly silent night. Slowly, a warm, gentle hand placed itself atop Izuku’s curls. “Still a bleedin’ heart, huh Deku? Well, I guess I am too, because I ain’t leavin’ you. So try to run all you want.”

Izuku titled his head down, feeling a small smile begin to form on his chapped lips. “I still think this is a bad idea.”

In response, a smirk spread across Kacchan’s features. “I’ve never had a bad idea in my life.”

“Says the gang member walking around threatening to murder people,” mumbled Izuku to himself.

“You want to say that again, Deku?”

Squeaking, dark curls flopped around as Izuku frantically shook his head and sped-walked forward.

Soon, however, he stopped. Where exactly was he going?

Katsuki appeared next to him and smirked down with a thumb over one shoulder. “Home’s that way, idiot.”

“Home?”

“Home.”

*****

“Katsuki! Why the hell is there a boy in our bathtub?!”

“Shut up, old hag! Deku’s gonna be staying with us for a while!”

“LIKE HELL HE’S… wait, as in Inko’s boy? Nevermind, he can stay as long as he wants.”