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“How are you doing, kiddo?”

 

Izuku turned from his spot by the big picture window. Yagi Toshinori’s care facility looked more like a high end skyscraper, his living quarters so high up that the massive window in his living room offered a perfect view of the city lights at night. He’d been staring out the window for nearly 30 minutes now, trying and failing to get his whirlwind thoughts together. This wasn’t the first time Toshinori had asked him that since he arrived on his former mentors doorstep with a racing heart and shaking hands.

 

Toshinori, to his credit, didn’t comment on the obvious anxiety attack Izuku was in the middle of, instead merely leading him into his small apartment and depositing him on the couch while he went and made tea. Izuku had stayed in the same position the entire time the tea was brewing, eyes unfocused and staring into nothing as he fought to get out of his head. He’d jumped when Toshinori placed his tea on the coffee table in front of him, but automatically picked it up and took a few sips. Silence had descended until only the dregs were left in his cup. Toshinori had asked how he was doing and he’d gotten up, walked to the window, wrapped his arms around himself and stared out into the night.

 

All Might watched with a sad smile as his successor came and sat back down next to him on the couch. He felt just as helpless as his former student, unable to offer wisdom or guidance on such a subject, but still yearning to find the right words to say to make it bearable all the same. He placed his hand on top of Izuku’s wringing ones, silently offering his support and letting his student know that he was willing to wait until he was ready to talk. Izuku looked down at their hands and then looked into his mentor’s face.

 

“I don’t know what the right answer is, All Might. I feel like I shouldn’t be as affected by this as I am, but I can’t help remembering…” Izuku’s breathing picked up again as fat tears welled in his green eyes for the hundredth time today. He hated that this was affecting him so much that he couldn’t function normally.

 

He’d been doing so well too. Six months of therapy and unrelenting support from Kacchan and their family and friends had helped him to come to terms with what happened and how to move past it. He doubted that he’d ever truly be the same as before, but he’d learned how to come to terms with that too. He’d taken that first month off of Hero work, focusing only on piecing the shattered pieces of himself back together enough to be a functioning member of society. He’d tried to aid in the capture of Wraith, but was barred from the mission. He’d watched the tapes of Todoroki’s questioning before the Quirk was removed. It was almost two months before Wraith was finally found, nearly two hundred miles away, hidden away in an abandoned house with Toga. He’d watched the tapes of both of their questionings as well, as irrelevant they ended up being he was glad to have the complete story.

 

Kacchan had tried to bar him from seeing Todoroki’s questioning after the Quirk had been removed, telling him that it wasn’t worth it, that it would only break his heart all over again. Izuku had remained adamant until Kacchan had finally relented on the sole condition that he be in the room with Izuku when he did. He held Izuku in silence as Izuku wept into his shirt at the image of a broken Todoroki screaming and crying.

 

It’d taken him another month to recover from that trauma. He wasn’t sure why he believed he was strong enough to take seeing one of his closest friends so broken and know that it still didn’t change what happened, or change how Izuku never wanted to see his face ever again. Maybe he really was a masochist.

 

And today. Today, he hadn’t been able to stand the way Kacchan’s face was hesitant and frightened as he asked Izuku if he wanted to be present when Todoroki was switched from the prison he’d been serving time in to the mental health facility that was so much like the one Todoroki’s mother used to be in, it was almost ironic how full circle things had come. He’d hated seeing someone as strong and cock sure as Kacchan with such a terrified look on his face. He couldn’t put Kacchan through that, and he shouldn’t put himself through that. So he’d only requested that Kacchan drop him off at Toshinori’s on the way down to the prison.

 

He felt another stab through the heart at the absolutely ecstatic expression Kacchan’s face had melted into as soon as his meaning had filtered through. He’d caught Izuku up in the sweetest kiss they’d ever shared, and they’d nearly been late leaving because one kiss turned into two, which turned into Kacchan physically picking him up and carrying him to their bedroom to show just how grateful he was for Izuku’s choice. The lovemaking had been slow and sweet, Kacchan practically worshipping Izuku’s body in between whispers of how much Izuku meant to him and how much he loved him. Izuku sobbed nearly the entire time.

 

(It had taken him three full months of therapy to not flinch away from physical contact, to be comfortable being penetrated and allowing the walls he’d unconsciously built after his attack to be breached. Kacchan had never complained, never uttered anything but support and praise and total trust that the reason Izuku didn’t want a physical relationship had nothing to do with anything he did. Izuku couldn’t help but feel like their relationship was starting all over again, a daunting thought considering how far they’d come… before. )

 

“My boy…. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be conflicted about such a sensitive matter. You don’t have to decide how you feel about anything. Not ever if you don’t want to. Just as long as you don’t lose yourself in the process. That’d be letting it… him… win.” Toshinori gripped his hand with his own feeble ones.

 

“That’s just the thing. I feel like I’m allowing this to define me! Every moment of every day is dedicated to getting around this one event . My entire life, Kacchan’s entire life, everything has been put on hold because of it!” Now frustrated tears leaked out of his eyes, his hands curling into fists as Toshinori released them at his agitation. “It isn’t fair! It isn’t fair to anyone around me that I can’t get past this! It isn’t fair to the people I could be saving that I can’t get past it to do my job properly! It isn’t fair to my fiance that we had to put the wedding on hold so that I could deal with my issues! It isn’t fair that I’m suffering and that bastard isn’t!!!

 

A deafening silence fell between the two men.

 

Izuku’s shoulders were pulled up around his ears, his head hanging down and green eyes glaring at the floor angrily. In that moment he looked like the weight of the world was crushing him, his body finally giving out to the burden it could no longer bare.

 

“...it isn’t fair that I should have such black thoughts about someone that was supposed to be my friend.” Izuku whispered, still looking at the floor. He finally looked up at his mentor, his eyes scattering all over his face as he leaned towards him with a pleading look on his face that broke what was left of Toshinori’s shattered heart. “It isn’t fair that he’s allowed to change who I am because of this. How do I stop it, Toshinori-Sensei?”

 

Piercing blue eyes, still bright with intelligence and tenacity after all these years, still sharp and observant after the rest of his body had broken down so completely it was a struggle to walk from one room to the next without having to stop and catch his breath, still shining with pride and love for his son-in-all-but-blood, looked Izuku with a determination that made Izuku’s chest clench up. He knew that whatever his mentor said would utterly and completely change his life forever. For better or worst.

 

“You overcome it, my son. You look your enemy in the face, smile confidently, and you win. This isn’t an undefeatable battle. You should find that spark inside the darkness of yourself that is wholly you , and ignite it until it is a bonfire. No one can tell you who you are. If you want to be a Hero, you only have to reach out and take it. ” Toshinori’s eyes never left Izuku’s green ones, never wavered as he breathed life back into his successor’s ragged and worn out soul.

 

__________________

 

Pro Hero Ground Zero crossed his arms as he waited for the prisoner to be escorted up to his new room. He’d left the extras that transported the asshole downstairs to unload him and bring him up, opting to go on ahead to check that the facility and his room harbored no threats.

 

Not that he would’ve minded if it did.

 

Sadly, he couldn’t allow any harm to come to Todoroki, no matter how badly he wanted to make the asshole pay for what he’d done to Izuku. He would see that he was securely locked up here for his own eyes before calling this particular mission complete and going home to his future husband. He was ready to wash his hands of this entire ordeal and focus on getting their lives back to normal. And getting this bastard out of it completely was step one.

 

The door opened and an officer came in, a bored look on his face as he immediately stepped to the side to allow the rest of the bodies to file in. Ground Zero grit his teeth as the bowed head of bi-colored hair came shuffling into the room, quirk nullifying cuffs locked around his wrists and ankles, a short length of thick metal chain connecting the two sets of cuffs together causing the stunted movements. Todoroki walked into the middle of the room without ever looking up, allowing the other officer following behind him to file in and shut the door.

 

“You understand that you are not allowed to use your Quirk unless it is in a specified location of this facility and only at the issue of the doctors monitoring you, correct?” The bland voice of the second officer broke the tense silence that had descended in the closed off room. Katsuki tensed as Todoroki finally looked up.

 

“...I understand.”

 

The officer moved forward and started the process of unlocking the cuffs, handing them to his partner as he got each part free. Once the bindings were completely removed, both officers stood back and looked at Katsuki.

 

“You guys can go.” Katsuki didn’t relax his tense posture as he nodded to the two officers. They didn’t hesitate as they opened the door and fled the room hastily. Only Katsuki and Shouto remained, neither moving or budging as they stared each other down.

 

Shouto had lost weight in prison. He had been allowed to shower and clean himself before leaving to come to the mental health facility, so he didn’t smell like cigarettes and the staleness associated with the prison attire that seemed to be stuck to the fabric no matter how many times it was washed. But his hair was lank, the long locks loosely held by a ponytail holder at the nape of his neck no longer shiny and soft as if they too had given up on living. His skin was sallow and pale. Only his heterochromatic eyes were the same. They still burned with a icy fire that threatened to scald anyone around him.

 

Not one to back down, even after all this time, Katsuki glared straight into those eyes with blazing crimson ones of his own. He was so glad that Izuku wasn’t here, that he’d decided to stay away and trust Katsuki to handle making sure this bastard was taken care of once and for all.

 

But now that there was no longer any reason for him to stay, it was time to go. He wasn’t here to engage with his former classmate, he was here to do his job and leave. He’d fought through his personal feelings every step of the way throughout this entire ordeal, doing his best to remain as professional as possible. It made him physically sick to look at the person that destroyed someone that Katsuki always considered too pure for this world. The itch to do violence with his hands, to bring them together and blow this bastard away with his AP Shot, was so strong he unconsciously curled his hands into fists to keep them from errantly sparking. He moved forward to leave, stalking through the room towards the doorway with the sole intent of getting as far away from Shouto Todoroki as quickly as possible.

 

He managed to get all the way to the door, his hand upon the handle, before Todoroki finally spoke again.

 

“Tell Izuku I’m sorry.”

 

Flames licked at the walls of Katsuki’s self control, threatening to raze his defenses to the ground and consume him with the desire to fuck this asshole up as much as Todoroki had fucked his Deku up.

 

Deku.

 

“No. You don’t have the right to apologize to him. You can take your shitty apology and shove it right up your fucking ass, prick.” Katsuki’s hand tightened on the handle as he growled out, barely keeping his temper in check. He whirled around in shock as he heard a soft laugh. “What the fuck is so goddamn funny?!”

 

Todoroki was looking at him with a slight smile on his face. His eyes were no less intense, no less focused completely on Katsuki as his smile spread, giving him a deranged look that caused Katsuki’s skin to crawl. “Because you misunderstood me.”

 

“HAH?!”

 

Katsuki wasn’t sure what the fuck that meant. How does someone misunderstand an apology? What the fuck kind of game is this asshole trying to play at? He should leave right now. He should walk out the door without looking back, and not give this asshole the benefit of his presence in Katsuki’s life for one more moment longer than is absolutely necessary. But before he could move after making his decision, Todoroki spoke again, still with a soft lilt to his voice, as if they were merely comparing notes at the end of a stressful day of Hero work and their stories aren’t matching up right.

 

“I meant that I was sorry that he ended up with you after all.”

 

Katsuki saw red. He mustered every single bit of his years of training and anger management to clamp down on the desire to wipe the shitty smirk right off the fuckers face. With a snarl he ripped the door open and stalked out of the room without another look back. He knew if he did the brittle hold he had on his self control would snap. He needed to see Deku. Workers and patients alike jumped out of his way as he angrily made his way out of the building. He opened his car door with more force than was strictly necessary and threw himself in the drivers seat before slamming the door.

 

He shuddered out a quaky breath. Wrapped in the silence of his car he closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the headrest. He knew he’d done the right thing by not engaging and leaving before it escalated into something he’d have to explain to his superiors, but it didn’t make it any less frustrating that he couldn’t combat Todoroki’s words.

 

Is Deku better off without me?

 

His eyes snapped open. He felt like the air had been rent from his lungs. He shouldn’t let the bastard affect him this badly, but he also had been thinking the same thing for the past six months. All throughout Deku’s struggle to find himself afterwards, Katsuki had felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness and debilitating weakness. He couldn’t be any help to Deku, couldn’t find the magic words to say that would cause the shadows in those green eyes he desperately loved so much to disappear, and it was eating him alive. He was getting better, Katsuki could see the improvement every day, but there was still a spark missing inside. That spark is what drew Katsuki to Izuku in the first place, and his soul had been crying out for its return so that they could be one again. He’d once thought that they were extensions of the same person, just different parts and attributes. This new Deku didn’t feel like that, his soul didn’t recognize the person that Deku was now.

 

It didn’t make him love Deku any less, didn’t make him desire any less to do everything and be everything for the broken green haired man. He’d thrown himself into supporting Izuku in whatever way possible, whatever Izuku needed of him, Katsuki gave without question. He’d thought he was doing a pretty good job at hiding how off kilter he felt, but Deku had picked up on it, finally saying something one day around three months after the kidnapping. Deku could always read Katsuki like a book.

 

“K-kacchan?”

 

Katsuki looked up from where his fiance was fidgeting nervously at the other end of the couch, looking down at scarred fingers instead of meeting Katsuki’s gaze. “Yeah?”

 

“Do… do you still want to be with me?”

 

Katsuki dropped the magazine he’d been thumbing through in shock. “Wh- what?! Why would you ask me that? Of course I want to be with you!” Katsuki wished his voice held more conviction, instead of the breathless tumble of words and gasps as he struggled to breathe through the lightning of emotion that rocked through his heart. Was Izuku going to leave him?

 

Izuku looked up at him finally. It should’ve made Katsuki feel better, but instead the nauseous roiling in his gut only increased as he saw the terrified but determined look in Izuku’s eyes. He reached out, wanting to pull Izuku close, to enclose him in his arms and swear to every deity in the universe that he’d never leave Izuku’s side. But Izuku flinched away from his touch, and his hand dropped as his heart did. Maybe Izuku didn’t want Katsuki to be at his side anymore.

 

Tears pricked his eyes, immediately overflowing down numb cheeks as he whispered to the man he’d loved since he was 15 and too stupid to realize it, “Do you not want to be with me anymore?”

 

Izuku didn’t say anything, just gazed at Katsuki with horror in his eyes, as if Katsuki had just threatened to hurt him. Katsuki choked. He felt like he couldn’t pull any air into his lungs. His skin crawled with thousands of pinpricks of pain as his heart shattered and his world narrowed to this one moment. “I-i-if you want me to go, I’ll go. I’ll g-g-give you your space. You d-don’t have to be with m-m-me. I’m s-sorry.”

 

Katsuki stood blindly, his entire world falling apart as he tried to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other to make his way into the bedroom to grab a suitcase and pack some clothes. He couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop thinking that there must’ve been something he could’ve done that he didn’t see, that he must’ve missed.

 

He made it to the dark hallway before he was tackled from behind. He didn’t even have time to do anything but choke out a shocked gasp before he’d hit the ground heavily. A mass was weighing him down, and he stilled as he caught the sobs shuddering through the body on top of his.

 

Izuku maneuvered off of him enough to flip him over so that they were face to face. Green eyes pierced into him, opening his chest and exposing his bleeding heart. Trembling pink lips opened and Izuku spoke softly at first, his voice gaining volume. “It’s so simple to be afraid. It’s so simple when you know who you are. I- I think that you don’t know who I am anymore, and y-you don’t know how to deal with it. Everything that you thought I’d be has fallen apart right in front of you. I- I don’t blame you. I don’t know how to deal with it either. But… But I want to get back to who I used to be. And I want you by my side no matter what. I love you, Kacchan. Nothing will ever change that.”

 

Katsuki stared up into shadowed green eyes as his brain processed what Izuku was saying. Through the haze of loss and pain, he saw a broken person attempting to save him, attempting to save them. He only had to accept the help, much like he’d willed Izuku to accept his help on his journey of recovery. And he wasn’t strong enough to leave Izuku Midoriya.

 

“I love you.” Katsuki pushed up onto his elbows, one hand reaching out to wrap around Izuku’s waist as he attempted to get off. He pulled the shorter man down until their lips were brushing as he breathed out, “I love you. Izuku. I’ll never leave you.” He interspersed kisses between words, just featherlight touches of lips as he was unsure of how comfortable Izuku was with the physical affection. Izuku took him by surprise by pressing their lips together harder, his hands coming up to fist into Katsuki’s hair as their lips moved together more desperately.

 

Katsuki started his car. He was glad that he’d remembered that turning point in the fight against what had happened. He needed to go see his Deku and remind himself once again that they were together for the long haul, and no one was going to be able to change that fact.