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Dolorous

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Toshihiro waited for Nori to drag Youji away before he made his move.

If he knew his siblings as well as he thought he did, they’d be distracted with video games for at least another hour or two, giving Toshihiro plenty of time to put his plans into action.

He had a short window to strike and he couldn’t afford their distraction.

Toshihiro had thirty minutes before their dad came home from his patrol, which meant their father was alone. With no pressure from his mate, Toshihiro was sure to get an honest answer out of their father. Their dad often encouraged (“Bribe. He bribes him,” as Nori would say) their father to do things with his kids, so most of the time when he tagged along to an event, it was because their dad asked.

Due to their dad’s influence, Nori and Youji had convinced themselves that their father didn’t care, but Toshihiro knew better.

And he’d prove it by striking when their father had full opportunity to answer for himself.

Toshihiro waited for the sounds of guns firing from Nori’s favorite game on the other side of the closed door before he crept away from his brother’s bedroom. He snuck down the stairs with slow steps so that his brothers thought he’d gone back to his own room to do his homework like usual.

If they knew what he was going to do, Nori at least, would make a fuss and try to stop him.

That would ruin everything!

Toshihiro found his father in the kitchen, as expected. Their father loved to cook and nothing beat one of his home cooked meals. Even Nori liked his food enough to admit it was good. He’d never say it within earshot of their father, but he had said it—so it counted!

Toshihiro smelled dinner cooking on the stove and licked his lip as he watched from the doorway. His father stood at the chopping board, methodically cutting a large daikon into slices with the same precision and care he put into everything he did. A pot sat on the stove with a soup broth waiting for the daikon slices.

His father didn’t wear a smile on his face, but he did look serene in the afternoon light slipping through the window. Toshihiro swallowed and took a few steps into the kitchen, not wanting to disturb the mood, but knowing he had limited time to ask.

His father didn’t stop chopping as Toshihiro approached, but his back straightened enough to let Toshihiro know he’d been noticed.

“Did you need something?” his father asked, pushing aside the finished slices. He pulled over the next daikon and cut off the ends. He popped the smallest piece in his mouth and chewed. “If you’re hungry, dinner’ll be done in about thirty minutes, but you can have a slice of daikon if you want one.”

“No, I’m not hungry,” Toshihiro said.

He forced his legs to carry him further into the kitchen. He stopped behind his father and just enough to the side that he could see his father’s face. Toshihiro rubbed his index finger with his other hand and steadied his breathing.

He was twelve years old. He was an Alpha. He had no excuse to run away scared.

Keeping an eye on his father to gauge his reaction, Toshihiro said, “The Cultural Festival is coming up this weekend. Our class is doing a cafe with coffee and sweets.”

“It’s that time of year, isn’t it?” His father gathered up the finished slices and put them in a bowl and set it near the cooking soup broth. He didn’t look at Toshihiro, keeping his eyes locked on the next daikon to cut and the rest of his dinner prep. “You should tell Deku when he gets home. I think it slipped his mind that was coming up and I know he was looking forward to going.”

“He always comes,” Toshihiro said. He dropped his hands and swallowed, forcing the lump down his throat. “I wanted to know if you were going to come this year.”

His father stopped moving with the knife still on the cutting board.

Toshihiro grabbed the bottom of his shirt and blurted, “It’s our first festival in junior high and it’s bigger than our old elementary school festivals. My friend is really, really good at making cakes. I think you’d like them and I wanted you to see the cafe we’re going to make.”

His father didn’t answer. He kept staring at the cutting board and the sliced daikon with a frown. Toshihiro squeezed his shirt, dropping his head toward the floor. His stomach churned with nerves and the clear answer he’d gotten from so little a response from his parent.

His father didn’t want to go.

He really didn’t want to go.

Maybe Nori and Youji were right.

Toshihiro bit his lip, forcing himself to stay calm with slow breaths.

He wouldn’t cry in front of his father.

He wouldn’t.

“Do you really want me to go that badly?” His father sighed and put the knife down. He folded an arm on the counter and put his other hand on Toshihiro’s head, forcing him to look up. His father smiled, but it felt sad. “Your old man’s not too good around other people these days. If I go, I’ll just embarrass you and your brothers.”

“You won’t,” Toshihiro said. He knew his father was weird for an Omega, but he wasn’t embarrassing. He was smart, good at cooking, and really observant. If an Alpha as amazing as their dad knew his mate was the best, everyone else should too. “You won’t embarrass us, I promise. I’d like it if you came, please.”

He listened to his own heavy breathing as his father looked him in the eye. His expression remained hard to read—stuck somewhere between sad and frustrated. However, when he looked away, he ruffled Toshihiro’s hair.

“Alright, you win.”

Toshihiro straightened his shoulders and followed his father as he walked over to the fridge. He pulled a red pen out of the cup on the counter and Toshihiro grinned so brightly his cheeks hurt—the red pen was for his father’s schedule! It meant he was definitely going and not just adding it as a reminder for their dad.

“What day is it?” his father asked, hovering the pen over the calendar. “You said sometime this weekend, right?”

“Saturday,” Toshihiro said. He pointed at the date and his father wrote in red “Cultural Festival.” He circled it and when he put the pen back into the cup, Toshihiro hugged his father at the hip. “Thank you! It’s going to be really fun.”

“You’d better make sure I get a piece of cake,” his father said. He tugged Toshihiro off by the back of his shirt and set him down a foot away. “Go play with your brothers. I need to finish dinner.”

“Okay,” Toshihiro said. He skipped out of the kitchen and almost stumbled over the side table in the living room. Toshihiro ran up the stairs. “Yes!”

He couldn’t wait to tell the others their father was coming.


“You asked him to come?” Nori said, twisting his lip in a scowl. He tapped away on his controller faster to get the round finished and over with. Youji’s character struggled to keep up, and normally he’d go easy on the dweeb, but Nori didn’t want his attention split. Nori finished the game round and tossed the controller in the basket. “You’re such an Omega’s boy.”

“Like you don’t cling to dad every chance you get,” Toshihiro said, hopping on the bed behind him looking as self righteous as ever. Being the oldest by three minutes did not make him the boss. Toshihiro leaned forward and pointed at Nori’s face. “You’re just as much an Alpha’s boy, so I don’t see why you get to tease me.”

“Yeah, maybe I am, but our Alpha is the number one Pro Hero and cool,” Nori said. Youji moved over as he got up and finished putting away their video game stuff. He kept his head down, like usual, but Nori didn’t mind. This was between him and Toshihiro anyway. Nori crossed his arms and scrunched his nose. “I still don’t know what he saw in our old man to pick him out of everybody, unless it was just his looks. The guy sure doesn’t have anything else going for him.”

Their old man could cook and clean, but what Omega couldn’t?

“Don’t let dad catch you say that,” Youji whispered. A few strands of his hair fell in his eyes and he turned a game controller over in his hand before he dropped it in the basket. “Dad gets really mad when people talk bad about our old man.”

“Because he’s got a reputation to protect. People can’t think he doesn’t know how to make good decisions,” Nori said. Toshihiro scowled at him and Nori clicked his tongue. “But hey, maybe he felt bad our old man’s such a mess and took him in out of pity.”

Toshihiro nudged Nori’s shin with his foot. “Our dad liked our father when they were kids. Pity has nothing to do with it.”

“You’re so delusional it’s painful,” Nori said, shaking his head. “When are you going to give this up?”

“When you get it through your thick skull that he cares about us and stop giving him a hard time,” Toshihiro answered. He got off the bed and glared up at Nori. He might be the older one, but Nori was taller and he’d take what advantage he could get. Toshihiro crossed his arms. “I asked him to come and he said yes. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t be going out of his comfort zone to see the Festival.”

“Our old man doesn’t care about us,” Nori said back, putting some growl in his voice. “The only reason he agreed to go is because he knew you’d go whining to our dad if he said no and dad would make the old man go. He saved himself a step saying yes now. It’s the same thing as always.”

“No, he said yes on his own,” Toshihiro said again, the sides of his eyes watering. “That makes all the difference.”

“You’re an idiot.” Nori pushed Toshihiro back out of his space. “One of these days you’ll figure out the truth and don’t you dare go crying to me or Youji about it.”

“Don’t push me,” Toshihiro said back. “And stop saying things like that. Our dad doesn’t force our father to do things.”

“He does,” Nori said. He pushed Toshihiro again, hard enough to knock him into the dresser. “And I’ll push you if I want.”

“You’re such a brat,” Toshihiro said, growling.

He stepped away from the dresser and dashed forward to push Nori back, but since he saw it coming, Nori moved to the side to watch his brother smack into the wall. He hissed and held his nose.

“Ha! Look at you,” Nori said. He put his hands on his hips and smirked. “You’re just as pathetic as our old man. No wonder you like him so much.”

“Shut up!” Toshihiro yelled back. He growled again and his breathing picked up. Nori threw his arms up to catch his brother when he took a swing. “Stop saying bad things about him!”

“No!” Nori elbowed Toshihiro in the chest and shoved him into the wall with a smack. “Wake up and just admit you’re wrong.”

“You’re the wrong one!”

Toshihiro pushed with renewed strength and threw Nori away from him hard enough that he smacked into the bed. It hit the wall, denting the plaster and he shook his head out as his back smarted. Toshihiro made a jump for him—

“Oh, no you don’t!” The old man yelled. He yanked Toshihiro back mid-attack by the collar of his shirt and grabbed him around the chest. The old man turned on his “Alpha” voice and pointed at the floor between Nori and Toshihiro. “I don’t know what this fight is about, but it stops right now.

“Especially for you,” the old man said, shoving Toshihiro into the hallway behind them with a hand on his chest. “Your pupils are slitted. Go calm down in the bathroom. Now.”

Toshihiro curled his fingers in, glaring at Nori around their old man’s side. “But he—”

“I said now!” The old man left no room for debate with a pointed finger away from Nori’s bedroom. “I’ll check on you in a minute.”

Toshihiro lowered his head and submitted to their old man. He clenched his hands into fists and stomped away, his eyes watering once more.

“I did not need this today,” the old man said. He turned back into the room and pointed at Nori. “Are you hurt?”

“No.” Nori crossed his arms and sat on his bed. His felt sore in a few places, but he could get Youji to look at it later. “I’m fine.”

“Good,” the old man said. He spotted Youji frozen in the corner and turned to him. “What happened?”

Youji shrugged and looked away. He sat on the floor and whispered, “I don’t know. A fight?”

The old man rubbed between his eyes, pinching hard on the bridge of his nose. “Stay out of trouble. I’m going to make sure Toshihiro calmed down.”

“Whatever,” Nori said.

The old man shut the door behind him as he left and Nori sprawled out on the bed. He glared at the ceiling. Stupid old man. Nori had the fight handled. He didn’t need any help to deal with crybaby Toshihiro.

“You should really stop picking fights with him,” Youji said, his voice quiet as a whisper. “He could really hurt you.”

“Why? Because he’s an Alpha and we’re not?” Nori asked, glaring at Youji. He was supposed to be on Nori’s side. “I can take him!”

“Not if he goes wild,” Youji said. Nori glared harder and he put his hands up. “Just something to keep in mind.”

“He’s a crybaby Omega’s boy,” Nori said. He rolled over on his bed to face the wall. The new crack stared back at him and he kicked the wall. “Being an Alpha doesn’t change a thing.”

Youji didn’t say anything and wandered to the door. He checked the hall before disappearing into his own room.

Nori grabbed his pillow and screamed into it.


“So what’d he do?” His father guided Toshihiro to his room by the back of the shoulder and sat him at his desk chair. “You don’t usually humor his need to pick fights.”

“Nothing,” Toshihiro said, staring at the table. He didn’t want to say it. Their father knew Nori didn’t like him, but telling him the extent of it was too cruel. Toshihiro put his hand on the back of his neck and kept his gaze down. “He got on my nerves.”

“I don’t believe that,” his father said. He ruffled Toshihiro’s hair and huffed. “But maybe you can talk to your dad about it. Deku’ll be home soon and I am telling him about this.”

“Okay.”

Their father always let dad do all the big decision making.

“I’m going to finish dinner,” father said. “Stay out of trouble for the rest of the night.”

“Sure.”

“Great.”

His father shut Toshihiro’s door and he put his arms over his head. The shame of falling for Nori’s goading bubbled in his chest.

Toshihiro heard the door open downstairs and the call of his dad coming in for the night. He looked up at his pin board and the family photos he’d tacked up. In the one in the center, when his dad and father were new parents, his father had a soft, affectionate smile on his face as he held Nori next to their dad with Toshihiro and Youji in his arms.

Their father had loved the three of them then.

He had to still love them now.

Toshihiro got up from his desk and left the bedroom. Nori had said their father only agreed to come because he knew their dad would force him to go later, but that was wrong. Their dad hadn’t made father go to any of the other Cultural Festivals, so there was no reason to believe he’d make his mate go to this one.

But it wouldn’t hurt to ask and make sure.

Toshihiro refused to leave any room for doubt.

Chapter Text

Toshihiro tapped quietly down the stairs. He could hear his father and dad talking in the kitchen and he didn’t want to disturb them.

His father was grumpy, quiet, and didn’t really go out of his way to shower his kids in affection. But what Nori and Youji had failed to notice, was that was part of his personality, not a sign that he didn’t like them. Their father kept to himself, letting himself be hugged and touched when friends came over instead of being the one to start anything physical.

He didn’t initiate contact.

Except when he was around his Alpha, of course.

Toshihiro glowed whenever he saw his father’s walls break down just a fraction to return a touch or kiss here or there when he didn’t think anyone was watching. When his dad and father were alone, it was like his Omega was an entirely different person. He smiled more and Toshihiro could see the affection on his face.

Every so often when his father was feeling low, he’d be the one to seek out dad and drag him somewhere private to be together.

Toshihiro loved those times, because his father was always happier afterwards. It was almost like he got recharged by spending time with dad. Dad brought out a side of their father no one else got to see—most of the time. Father was downright cuddly with everyone when he had his Heats, which had to be a side effect of spending so much time with dad.

His father’s Heat week was the one time of the month Toshihiro was gifted hugs from his father in abundance. Father would wander into the kitchen looking for food in a drowsy state—half delirious from his Heat—and if he spotted Toshihiro or his siblings along the way, he’d stop and hug them. He’d hold them for a few seconds, squeezing tight before he let go and went back to getting what he was looking for before going back into his bedroom to sleep the rest of the day while he waited for his mate to come home.

It felt like a peek into the true feelings his father hid behind his shy shell and Toshihiro looked forward to the rare showings of affection every time. He clung tight to each hug, refusing to squirm away like his siblings, and squeezed back just as hard. When he was younger, sometimes his father would cuddle with him while he waited for dad to come home.

His father had stopped that after Toshihiro presented as an Alpha, but he still had the memories to keep him company.

Physical affection wasn’t the only way to show you loved someone.

“Stupid Nori,” Toshihiro grumbled to himself as he reached the bottom of the stairs. “How could he not notice how much father does for us?”

His father always helped with whatever Toshihiro and his brothers needed when they asked (if they asked—Nori always went to their dad first). Their father helped with homework, crafts, and figuring out puzzles or games—he knew about a lot of subjects and always had an answer!

Where did Nori think his video games came from? And where did Youji think all his favorite snacks stocked in the pantry were from? Toshihiro knew it wasn’t coming from dad, even if he did keep notes on all of them in his journals.

Their father didn’t look like he paid attention, but he always remembered things that they liked or what they wanted with or without a notebook. He appeared like he was ignoring them when he took them to the park or to play, but he always appeared out of nowhere if someone fell or something dangerous turned up.

Toshihiro had figured out that his parents showed affection in different ways. Even if their father seemed cold for an Omega, he cared for them in his own way. Their father let their other dad give all the hugs and kisses and embarrassing stuff, choosing to love them in quiet instead.

“The brats got into a fight today, or at least Nori and Toshihiro did.”

Toshihiro heard his father and stopped in the living room. He ducked behind the couch. He didn’t know why his first instinct was to hide, but he wanted to hear what they said while they hadn’t noticed him yet. Toshihiro didn’t risk getting too close or they’d notice his Scent, but he still crawled as far as he dared and found a spot where he could see into the kitchen.

“They wouldn’t tell me anything about it, of course. It figures the one time they have solidarity is to keep each other out of trouble.” His father crossed his arms and leaned on the kitchen bar that split the kitchen from the dining room. “I’m surprised Youji didn’t rat them out, though, considering Toshihiro almost ripped Nori’s throat out.”

Toshihiro scowled.

He’d had more control over himself than that!

“Was it really that bad?” his dad asked. “It’s hard to picture Toshihiro getting that aggressive.”

“His slitted pupils said otherwise.” His father scratched the back of his head. “You need to talk with him. Maybe it’s just puberty messing with the kid and he hasn’t adjusted to the whole Alpha thing yet.”

“That could be. I know I had my grouchy moments here or there when I presented,” his dad said. He crossed his arms and leaned his head back. “I’ll talk with him, though now that I think about it, I’m glad he’s the only Alpha. Can you imagine if Nori was one, too?”

“They’d both have killed each other by now.”

Toshihiro could agree with that statement.

Dad laughed and leaned on the counter next to father. He tapped their shoulders together and grinned. “As happy as I am he’s a Beta like Youji, it does still surprise me. Nori’s so much like you I thought for sure he’d—“

“Be an Omega,” his father finished.

“Yeah.” Dad shot father a sheepish smile.

“Nature’s got a cruel sense of humor,” his father said. Toshihiro frowned at the bitter tone that leaked into his voice. “But whatever. Talk to the brats. Toshihiro needs to get a handle on his hormones and Nori needs to stop picking fights.”

“I’ll talk with them after dinner.”

Dad patted father on the arm and pushed off the counter. He walked toward the food cooking on the stove, but stopped on his way when he passed the calendar. Dad put his finger under the red ink on Saturday and Toshihiro held his breath.

“Kacchan, did you write in the Cultural Festival on the calendar?” dad asked, looking at the small mark his father put there this morning. “It’s in your pen.”

“Toshihiro told me the date,” his father said. He reached over and grabbed a protein shake off the counter and took a sip. He avoided his mate’s curious gaze and looked at an All Might poster hanging on the wall. “And it’s in my pen because I’m going.”

His dad’s eyes widened and his mouth half-curled up into a smile as his shoulder straightened back. “You are?”

His father drew in his shoulders and mumbled into his shake. “Toshihiro asked if I’d go this year and I said I would.”

“Kacchan that’s great!” Dad tackled his father in a crushing hug, lifting him off the ground and squeezing him to his chest in delight. His father dropped his shake, splashing it over the kitchen floor. Dad didn’t care about the lost nutritional drink or the mess and continued to squeeze, hiking his Omega high in the air as he picked him up. “I’m so glad you decided to go! We should make it a date day!”

“No,” father said. He put his hands on Dad’s face and shoved, pulling his knees up to hit Dad in the side. He squirmed in the hold around his waist, his face turning red. “You will embarrass yourself, me, and the kids. You will not do any of this lovey-dovey shit in public, so help me.”

“Then what about now?” Dad asked, still smiling. He set father back down on the ground and pinned him against the counter. Dad pressed their noses together and kissed him. “I can be lovey-dovey at home, can’t I?”

“Like I could stop you from being a sap,” father muttered and accepted it when Dad kissed him again. Toshihiro covered his mouth and leaned further over to get a better look at what they were doing. Father closed his eyes and shifted as they pressed together. When they split apart, his father pouted. “Stop being so happy. It’s just a school festival.”

“That you’re going to,” Dad said into his lips. He kept grinning, rocking father back and forth with him. “You’ve never come to anything like this before and I’m so glad you want to go. You work too hard anyway. The break’ll be good for you, so let the kids treat you to whatever it is their class is doing.”

“A cafe,” father said. Toshihiro grinned into his palm, happy his father remembered what their class would be presenting. He had paid attention when Toshihiro was talking to him earlier! Father turned away from dad’s nuzzling pushed his face away again. His fingers spread across dad’s nose and cheek and he pouted. “Some brat in his class can bake.”

“You two talked about it?” Dad asked, sneaking his arms around father’s waist once more. “It’s good you’re spending time with them.”

“Stop,” father said. He turned his head to the side when Dad kissed him on the neck. “You’re already making this too big a deal.”

“Maybe,” Dad said. He set his head on his father’s shoulder and rubbed his back. “Do you want to go together, or do you want to go up first by yourself and I’ll join you later? I know I can draw too much attention from the public and that might get in the way of seeing the booths and the event.”

“You are not leaving me alone with a school full of parents and bratty kids,” father said. He tugged on the back of dad’s hair to pull his head back. Father pouted and tugged on dad’s curls. “Leave your costume at home and it’ll be fine. People know better than to bother Heroes off duty.”

“Good idea,” dad said. He broke free from father’s hold and kissed his mate again. “This is a big step, Kacchan.”

“I said not to make this a big deal,” he whispered back. “Besides, only one of them even wants me there. I doubt I’ll stay long after I see Toshihiro’s classroom.”

“That’s more than enough,” dad said.

Toshihiro watched his parents stand quietly in the kitchen, his dad still hugging his father. He put his hand down and crossed his arms over his knees. They really were their best when they were alone together. No tension, no playful bickering—just two people who loved each other.

Nori didn’t have a clue, and if he’d stop making assumptions for two seconds, he’d see just how much their dad loved their father, too.

“Kacchan,” dad said, snapping Toshihiro out of his daze. He kissed father a little harder and nipped his lip. He pulled father over by the hip and kissed him again. “I wanted to see you all day.”

“Later,” father said. He wriggled in the hold, but couldn’t break free. Dad put his leg between father’s and moved closer. Father bit his lip. “Dinner. I made dinner and the kids’ll be downstairs any minute.”

“They don’t come down until you call.” Dad kissed father again. “We’ve got time.”

Dad’s hand reached for father’s belt and Toshihiro scrambled back behind the couch, his face heating up.

“That’s not fair,” he heard his father say behind him and Toshihiro crawled faster to get out of the living room and back to the stairs. “Deku!”

Toshihiro had no idea how he made it up the stairs and back to his room without making any noise but he breathed hard against his door.

He loved seeing his parents when they were being cute, but there were things that he had no desire to see.

Ever.

Toshihiro grabbed a book off his shelf and hopped onto his bed. He had at least twenty minutes to kill before dinner if what he saw in the kitchen was any indication. He grinned, curling up next to his pillow.

He got his answer without asking.

His father wanted to go!


Youji didn’t fit with the rest of his family.

When he turned eleven, he genuinely questioned whether or not he was adopted and no one told him or pondered that he might have been swapped with someone else in the hospital on accident.

He knew that thought was ridiculous, because he’d been born premature like his brothers, which would have been hard to mix up, and he did have his dad’s green eyes and curly hair, but there was no mistaking he was out of place.

Youji looked around the dinner table at Nori and Toshihiro, neither talking or looking at each other, and then glanced at his parents. The family resemblance between those four was hard to miss. Nori looked exactly like the old man, save for his green hair and eyes, from the hair style to the shared scowl. Toshihiro had a mix of features, but it was easy to see he got his eyes from dad and his nose from the old man.

His own brown hair was too dark to be mistaken for blond and his face was too square to match either of his parents.

The old man said Youji took after his grandfather, which he could see a little bit when the older Beta came to visit. He resembled his grandfather’s personality a bit, too, but that still meant he was the odd one out in the family.

Dad, the old man, Nori, and Toshihiro were all strong willed and stubborn.

Youji felt like the only voice of reason between the four of them and that sucked when he was only twelve.

“I’m done eating, can I be excused?” Nori asked, looking at their dad.

“Not yet. I wanted to talk with you three first,” dad said. He pushed his plate aside and their old man got up from his seat. He collected the plates and disappeared into the kitchen. Youji knew he wasn’t going to come back. Dad inhaled and exhaled once before he put on his “stern parent” face. “Kacchan said Nori and Toshihiro got into a fight this afternoon. Is this true?”

Youji didn’t know why he bothered to ask. If the old man said it happened, then as far as dad was concerned, it had.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Nori said. “We were grouchy from school and pushed each other around. It wasn’t even a fight.”

Toshihiro rubbed his thigh under the table and didn’t correct Nori.

“That’s not what I heard.”

Youji put his elbows on the table and put his chin in his hand. He looked off to the side and zoned out while dad lectured Nori and Toshihiro on their behavior. “Mind your temper” this. “Alpha have to be more responsible” that. Youji stayed out of it, like he always did.

He listened to his old man wash dishes in the kitchen instead. His old man could raise his voice and yell when it was just him and the kids, but he knew how to keep his head down and stay out of the way when dad was home.

Maybe Youji was related to the rest of his family.

He acted the same way with Nori.

“Stop spacing out,” Nori said. He grabbed Youji’s arm and dragged him out of the dinner chair. Behind him, their dad had gotten up from the table and was talking to Toshihiro softly in the corner—probably Alpha stuff. Nori gritted his teeth and dragged Youji through the living room. “Let’s play video games. I want to blow something up.”

“Sure.”

His brother led the way up the stairs and locked them both in his room. Youji pretended not to see the tears forming on the corners of his eyes.


A little after midnight, Nori still couldn’t sleep. He threw his blankets forward and sat up, crawling out of bed to get a drink of water.

He looked into the master bedroom through the open door and groaned under his breath when he saw his dad hugging a pillow to his chest and his face buried in it. Nori rolled his eyes and made his way down the dark hallway, still intent on getting a glass of water.

The old man sat on the couch in the living room, exactly where Nori had expected to find him when he saw the Omega wasn’t in bed. Nori watched him from the top of the stairs and squatted on a step. The old man had tugged on a loose pair of pajama pants and hunched over his knees. His hands were on the back of his head and his fingers curled in, clutching at his scalp.

At least he wasn’t crying tonight.

Nori stood up and stomped down the steps to tip the old man off that someone was coming and walked by him without saying a word.

But that didn’t stop his old man from speaking up. He leaned an arm over the back of the couch and watched Nori make his way to the kitchen. “What’re you doing up?”

“Getting a drink of water.”

“Don’t take too long,” the old man said. He turned away and got off the couch. “You’ve got school in the morning.”

Nori heard the stairs creak in the other room and got a glass of water from the sink. He drank the entire thing in the kitchen and set the empty glass on the counter. Nori walked over to the calendar and squinted to make out the red writing in the dark.

Dad had drawn a second green circle around the words “Cultural Festival” with a smiley face added to the corner.

He smacked the side of his fist against the small calendar square and left the kitchen. Nori made his way up the stairs and headed to his bedroom, but he stopped outside the master bedroom on his way.

The door was still open and he could see his old man back in bed with both arms crossed over his face. Dad had abandoned the pillow in his sleep, already replacing it with the old man wrapped in his arms.

Nori went back into his room and crawled into bed. He covered his head with his blankets and glared at the wall.

Toshihiro was an oblivious idiot.

Chapter Text

Toshihiro knew when his parents had arrived at his class cafe when the sudden influx of hushed whispers sprung to life among the guests they had already seated.

The Number One Pro Hero Deku always drew attention whether he was in uniform or not.

Toshihiro peeked around the corner of the curtain that hid the main seating area of the classroom from the server area. His dad rubbed the back of his neck as a few students greeted him at the door. They barely held back asking for autographs, and instead tried to figure out where he was going to sit.

No one paid much attention to his father on his left, looking around the room with interest and happy to ignore the fans.

Toshihiro fixed the tie on his waiter costume and grabbed a menu to stick under his arm. He checked himself in the mirror and nodded when he was satisfied that he looked presentable. With a confident step, he pushed past the curtain and walked toward his parents.

The other students already knew how excited he was to see both his parents at the festival—he’d only been talking about it nonstop since his father agreed—and moved aside to let him greet them.

“You made it,” Toshihiro said.

“Of course we did,” his dad said. He clapped his hands together and looked at father with one of his famous smiles. “Kacchan practically shoved me out the door. He went on and on about I was taking too long and we’d be late if I didn’t hurry.”

“I did not,” father said, elbowing his mate in the back. He shoved his hands in his pockets and asked Toshihiro, “Did you save me a piece of cake or what?”

“Yup!” Toshihiro exclaimed. He caught himself in the middle of the excitement and cleared his throat. He recovered and followed the waiter etiquette that had been drilled into his head for the festival. “I mean, yes. If you would come right this way, we have a table prepared.”

He heard a snap and looked up in time to see his dad finish taking a picture, followed by his father smacking his dad in the back of the head.

“Would you stop that?” his father asked. He reached over and plucked the phone out of dad’s hand and shoved it in his back pocket. “If you start, you won’t do anything but take photos all day.”

“But Kacchan, I want to document it!” Dad grabbed his phone back out of his mate’s pocket and pulled up the photo he’d just taken. “Isn’t his uniform nice?”

“Let’s just see this cake.”

Toshihiro held back a chuckle and showed his parents to the table he’d had reserved since they set up the cafe. He set the menus down before each parent and took out his notebook to write down their orders.

Dad opened his right away, but father shrugged and said, “I’ll take the waiter’s recommendation.”

“Alright,” Toshihiro said. He wrote down a slice of cake and a cup of coffee. “Dad?”

“It all looks good,” dad said. He grinned and closed his menu and placed it with father’s unopened one. “But I think Kacchan has the right idea. We’ll let you pick and surprise us.”

“You’ve got it,” Toshihiro said. He collected the menu and dashed back behind the curtain. He handed the order slip to his classmate preparing the trays and grinned when they put dad’s order to the front of the list with a “I still can’t believe your dad is Deku!” He picked up the tray with two cakes, one chocolate and one vanilla with strawberries, and grabbed their drinks. His dad grinned at his father when he returned and set the tray down. “Here you go! I hope you enjoy.”

Father picked up the one with strawberries and cut into it with his fork. He took a bite and licked a smudge of cream off his lip. “It’s good.”

“I’ll be sure to tell them you liked it.”

“Kacchan, let me have a taste,” dad asked. He reached over with his fork and father fended him off with a stab of his own. “Don’t be stingy.”

Father said, “Eat your own.”

And then took the cake plate off the table and ate it to the side while dad kept trying to steal a piece.

Toshihiro heard the snaps of camera phones behind him and covered his mouth to hide the smile.


Nori washed off his face in the bathroom. The make up from the haunted house his and Youji’s class had set up had been a success so far. He got a yelp out of his old man when he and dad came through the exhibit, which made the entire day worth it. Nori was glad to be done with his shift, though. There were other things he wanted to do other than play dress up.

“You think dad and the old man are done eating yet?” Youji asked. He had done most of the construction work on their classroom haunted house, so he’d gotten out of scaring guests or doing really anything the day of the festival. He had to be bored. Youji rubbed his arm through his sleeve. “Since we’re both free now, maybe we could all do something together.”

“I dunno,” Nori said. He checked his hair one more time in the mirror and grabbed his bag and stuff off the floor. “Want to go check out the other booths to see if there’s anything worth taking them to?”

“Sure,” Youji said.


“Are you free to walk around now?” His dad got up from the table and put his napkin down. He and father had hung around through the rest of Toshihiro’s shift at the class cafe watching him work and taking photos. “We can look around the rest of the school while waiting for your brothers to finish up.”

“Yes,” Toshihiro said. He rolled his sleeves to the elbow and took off his apron. Toshihiro put it away and tapped back to his parents. “I’m ready.”

“Is there anything you want us to see?” his dad asked.

“No, we spent so much time on our cafe, the only other thing I know about is Youji and Nori’s Haunted House.”

“Which we already saw,” father said. He frowned and flushed as dad giggled and he shoved the Alpha. “Shut up. The brat did a good job!”

Toshihiro looked at his dad. “What’d Nori do?”

“Scared Kacchan,” dad said. He put his hands up and curled his fingers in like claws. “Jumped right out and got him good!”

“It’s a haunted house! You’re supposed to be scared!” His father shouted. He grabbed dad’s arm and tugged him. “Come on. Let’s see the rest so I can go back home.”

His dad laughed and looked over his shoulder with a warm smile that stretched the freckles on his cheeks. “Coming, Toshihiro?”

“Yes!”

Toshihiro scrambled after his parents and refused to fight the smile as he walked behind them in the center. Dad and his father held hands and Toshihiro wished he could snap a picture of his own without getting caught.

As they walked down the halls and made it to the booths outside, Toshihiro almost couldn’t contain his joy. His father and dad were both talking and asking about the festival. His father even had a small smile on his face—like he was enjoying himself!

He couldn’t have asked for a better time.

“Look at all the food,” dad said. He looked around the booths while gracing the waving fans with grins right back. No one stopped him or asked for autographs since he was out of his costume, but dad drew people to him like a magnet. However, walking down the street of their children's school festival, dad only had eyes for his kids and mate. “What do you want to try, Kacchan?”

His father looked around at the booths and the faces of all the people running the stands and he tilted his head toward dad. “I feel like if we don’t try one of everything, we’ll hurt some feelings.”

“Good call,” dad said. “One of everything it is! Let’s find the first booth and work our way down the row.”

They made it through about three booths before Nori came running down the lane with Youji on his heels.

“Dad!” Nori grabbed dad’s arm and leaned back on it with a tug. Youji stumbled to a stop behind him, half out of breath and leaned on his brother. “A few of the other Pro Hero parents are doing a demonstration on the track field! They’re going to let people challenge them for fun and you totally need to show up.”

“I’m not sure that’s fair,” their dad said. Nori continued to cling on his arm and he rubbed the back of his neck. “I have an advantage against most of them.”

“I know! That’s why it’ll be cool. Please? I bet they’d love to fight you,” Nori said. “You’re the best and you’ve got to show off. Everyone’ll love it.”

His father snorted and let go of dad’s hand. He crossed his arms and watched dad from the corner of his eye.

“How about we go over to watch the other participants and test the waters,” Dad said. He patted Nori’s head and attempted to remain diplomatic. “They might not like me showing up and taking over the event.”

“That works,” Nori said, pulling. “Let’s go!”

“Alright, I’m coming!” Dad said, allowing Nori to drag him. He called over his shoulder, “Do you want to come, Kacchan?”

“Hell no,” father said. He scowled and threw his head back. Father cracked his neck and licked the side of his teeth. “I’m trying to have a good day, remember?”

“R-right,” Dad said, looking down and away. A strained look crossed his face and Toshihiro saw his father’s scowl deepen. Dad returned his public smile back to his face quickly and nodded twice to himself. He looked at Toshihiro and asked, “Are you staying with Kacchan or coming with us?”

“I’ll stay with father,” Toshihiro said. He took a step closer to the Omega in question and bit his lip. “I want to try more of the food.”

“We’ll see you later, then,” Dad said. “Try not to have too much fun without us.”

Dad waved and adjusted his walk into a trot to keep up with the overexcited Nori as he jabbered about the other Hero parents and pulled their dad behind him alongside Youji.

Toshihiro looked at his father as they stood in the middle of the active food stands. “How come you didn’t want to watch?”

“I’ve seen your dad thrash Pro Heroes in spars and beatdown Villains more than enough to last any lifetime,” father said. He patted Toshihiro’s back and shoved him forward to keep walking down the lane. “The food stands are more interesting.”

“I guess that sort of thing is different when you live with a Hero instead of just watching them on television or on the streets,” Toshihiro said. He resisted the urge to grab his father’s hand as they walked. He was twelve and his dad was already doing enough for him as it was without Toshihiro getting clingy. “You can make dad show off for you whenever you want.”

“Something like that.”

Toshihiro and his father considered sampling food from all the stands. There wasn’t as much of a point to try everything without the Hero the stand workers wanted to see, but it still tasted good.

His father had a smile on his face by the second booth and started giving the kids running the booths tips on their cooking by the fifth one.

“Well, look who it is! Out in public once again, I see!”

An Alpha Toshihiro didn’t recognize addressed his father with another laugh, stepping into their space. His sleazy grin gave Toshihiro a bad feeling in his chest and his father shared it.

The Omega narrowed his eyes at the Alpha and grabbed Toshihiro’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s go to the next stand.”

“Don’t be like that. Stay and chat for a while,” the Alpha said. He had a slur to his voice and he smelled like beer. How did a drunk Alpha get onto school grounds? The Alpha followed Toshihiro and his father as they walked down the lane. His father’s grip tightened as the Alpha kept up. “You’ve been out of sight for so long I wondered if Deku got tired of you and finally gave you away, but I guess he’s still keeping you, huh? ”

Toshihiro opened his mouth and his father cut him off with a sharp, “Ignore him.”

“Hey, an Alpha’s talking to you!” The Alpha slammed his hand down on father’s shoulder and yanked. “That means you have to do—”

The Alpha hit the ground with cry of pain.

Toshihiro stared at his father breathing hard with his hands in front of him. He’d thrown the Alpha over his shoulder and dropped him on the ground, twisting his arm in the process.

Everyone had stopped to stare alongside Toshihiro, caught off guard by the violent action.

“Don’t touch me,” his father growled. The man groaned and rolled on his side, but his father straightened and turned away. He grabbed Toshihiro’s arm once more and pulled him away from the Alpha. “Let’s go. We’ll find someone and report that ass.”

Toshihiro stumbled as his father’s pace picked up. The Omega’s teeth gritted and his eyes narrowed in fury.

He swallowed and struggled to stop himself from tripping as his father kept speeding up.

“Hey!” The Alpha yelled again, loud enough to be heard all the way from the back where father had left him. The Alpha stumbled to his feet and the crowds parted as they sensed further confrontation. One person ran off shouting they’d get help, but the Alpha ignored them. His father kept walking, face determined and biting his lip hard enough that it bruised. The Alpha shouted at the top of his lungs, “I said stop!”

His father flinched and he jerked his head like he was shaking something off.

An Order.

Toshihiro knew about those. His dad had given him a hundred lectures about how careful he had to be with them. They could be dangerous to an Omega if you used them without care or too freely.

And you never gave one to an Omega that wasn’t yours.

His father let go of Toshihiro’s hand and used it to cover his shoulder over his Mark. He steadied himself and walked forward once more. “Come on, Toshihiro.”

“Stop!” The Alpha Ordered again. “I’m not done with you!”

“That fucker,” his dad growled under his breath. He squeezed his shoulder harder, digging his fingers in hard enough that he popped the small venom seal over his Mark. Bits of blood soaked into his shirt from the reopened wound, but his father refused to turn around. “Keep walking.”

The Alpha ran forward. Toshihiro could smell his Scent and knew the Alpha was too close. “Get on your knees! It’s the only thing you’re good for anymore, isn’t it?”

His father stopped.


Most Alpha knew that fucking with Katsuki was a free ticket to get a Detroit Smash shoved in their faces.

But Deku wasn’t there.

“Do you have any idea how much I hate Orders?” Katsuki spun on his heel and smashed his fist into the side of the Alpha’s throat. He went down. Katsuki kicked the Alpha in the side of the head. “Try that again, fucker. I dare you.”

The Alpha shot up from the ground and tackled Katsuki at the waist. The beer on his breath and the stumble threw him off balance, but the power behind his wild state pushed Katsuki back an inch.

“Still playing pretend huh?” The Alpha growled. “Maybe you haven’t been around because Deku finally figured out you were an embarrassment.”

His slitted pupils and rancid Scent were alive with aggression. Katsuki swung his leg and put the Alpha on the ground again. The drunk got back up and Katsuki half wondered what the idiot’s beef with Katsuki even was. He’d never seen that Alpha before in his life—but that was the price of celebrity.

Everyone thought they knew your business.

Katsuki punched the guy in the throat again.

The Alpha didn’t go down that time, so Katsuki hit him in the chest. His own blood pumped and he licked his lip as his heart pumped faster. His shoulder ached and his hands hurt from getting out of practice, but the Alpha kept begging to be beaten down.

He did not want to disappoint.

“Let me enlighten you,” Katsuki said, punching the man hard in the nose with his knuckles. Blood gushed out of the broken nose and Katsuki leaned back to kick him square in the chest. He knocked the Alpha on his back and brought his foot down in the middle of the man’s chest. He heard a rib snap, but it wasn’t good enough. “You are a two-bit nobody.”

The man choked on his own blood and his eyes widened in fear.

“What are you trying to pull here, huh? Thought you’d be the big Alpha and make a move on Deku’s mate? Is that what this is?” Katsuki asked, throwing his arms out. He kicked the man in the ribs again. The man coughed up a mouthful of blood and Katsuki stomped down hard, but this time he aimed for the side of his neck. He pressed down on the man’s throat. The pathetic Alpha’s arms flailed as he struggled to breathe and Katsuki snarled. “Only one Alpha has ever made me submit in a fair fight and it sure as fuck isn’t you.”

Katsuki’s palms smoked and the Alpha’s eyes were still slitted. He growled and clawed at Katsuki’s leg—it looked like it was time to finish this.

He lined his hand up square with the Alpha’s ugly face and his palm lit in small sparks. One explosion should do the—

“Kacchan!”

His arm yanked to the side and the explosion shot out into the dirt, kicking up a burst of dust and smoke. Katsuki turned his head and saw Deku with both of his arms wrapped tight around Katsuki’s elbow to divert it away from the Alpha on the ground.

“You are scaring the kids,” Deku said. One for All sparked along his arms and the Quirk stayed active as he held onto Katsuki. “Calm down.”

“Holy shit!” Nori yelled from a spot over Deku’s shoulder. Katsuki saw Youji clinging to the boy’s arm with wide eyes. Nori himself stared in awe with the closest thing to respect he’d ever seen on that boy’s face. “He almost killed that dude!”

Katsuki looked away and back down at the bloodied Alpha sobbing with his arms over his head. He put his foot back on the ground and took a few shaky steps away from the Alpha. Deku did not let go of him.

Katsuki swallowed and looked up—straight at Toshihiro.

The horror across his little boy’s face broke Katsuki’s heart.

He put his head down and swallowed. “I want to go home, Deku.”

“Okay, Kacchan,” Deku said. His Alpha dropped his Quirk and loosened his hold, but he didn’t let go of Katsuki’s arm. He gently led Katsuki away from the injured Alpha and rubbed his upper arm. He stopped only long enough to shout over his shoulder, “I’ll be back to get you later, kids! Stay at the school!”

Not a single one of their children answered.

Katsuki leaned into Deku as they got to the street and rubbed the blood off his knuckles onto his jeans.


Toshihiro and his brothers hadn’t moved.

The police had come with paramedics and hauled the mangled Alpha away on a stretcher. The gossip around the festival had increased and “Deku” and “Katsuki” were on all of their tongues.

He listened to them about as much as his brothers.

They were all in too much shock to pay attention.

“I knew his Quirk was explosions, but I thought he was like grandpa!” Nori exclaimed, staring at the dark, burned dirt where his Quirk had hit. “That was huge!”

“It was scary,” Youji said. He stared at the blood littering the ground a few steps away and swayed. “If dad didn’t show up, he wasn’t going to stop. Our old man was really going to kill that guy.”

“I know!” Nori yelled back. He shook Toshihiro’s shoulder and asked, “What happened?”

Toshihiro gave him a short breakdown.

“Okay, that’s messed up.” Nori whistled and shook his head. “This is all so messed up. Come on, Youji. Let’s go back inside. I don’t want to stand out here anymore.”

Youji followed him, but kept looking back at the blood spots on the ground.

Toshihiro stayed frozen in place.

He wanted his feet to move, but he couldn’t get the vicious snarl on his father’s face out of his head. The Omega had looked scarier than any Alpha Toshihiro had ever seen.

“Ouch, that guy’ll be feeling that for weeks,” a Beta to his left said. He sipped at a drink cup with his eyes on the ambulance down the street about to carry away the drunkard Alpha. “Deku’s Omega sure did a number on him.”

“That moron had it coming,” an older Alpha next to him said. She turned her nose up and crossed her arms over her chest. “That Omega might have been abused for most of his life, but he was still Ground Zero for fuck’s sake.

“You’ve got a point there,” the Beta said back. “You never forget training like that, huh?”

“Not if you’re good.” The Alpha crumpled her cup and tossed it in the trash can. “Let’s go. That idiot’s Scent stinks and his blood is everywhere.”

“Right behind you.”

The couple walked away and disappeared into the crowds.

Toshihiro clutched at his shirt. “Ground Zero?”

Chapter Text

Red Riot picked them up.

Nori saw the text from Toshihiro telling him and Youji that the Pro Hero had shown up to get them. The two left their school classroom meet the Hero. Youji walked on the side closest to the remaining booth stands, putting Nori between him and the charred remains that were leftover from their old man’s Quirk.

The crowds of the festival had died down as the day grew later. Nori was glad there were no swarming fans around when they met the Pro Hero at the school gate alongside their brother.

Toshihiro wore a blank look on his face that meant he was thinking about something too hard.

“Hey! Sorry I’m so late,” Red Riot said, holding his hands up in apology. His mate stood next to him, holding a small grocery bag. Red Riot pointed at the bag and said, “We were at the market and I didn’t see your dad’s text.”

“Why isn’t he here?” Nori asked. He shoved his hands in his pockets and followed Red Riot and his mate as they walked down the street. “He said he was coming back.”

“Deku didn’t want to leave Bakugou alone,” Red Riot said over his shoulder. “He was more shaken up than Deku thought, so they’re going to talk it out and you guys get to stay over at my place tonight!”

Toshihiro dropped his head forward and bit his lip. His straight hair fell in his face and he shoved it back behind his ear. “Is father alright?”

“I’m sure he will be,” Red Riot said. He pulled his arm up and patted his bicep. “He’s a tough dude, so don’t you worry.”

Nori watched the other Pro Hero’s back.

Red Riot had known their old man almost as long as their dad had—which was why he kept calling the old man by his maiden name. Nori didn’t know the details, but he had heard gossip that Red Riot had been in a dominance fight with dad over their old man before he and his brothers were born. Nori also didn’t know why Red Riot had ever thought he stood a chance against Pro Hero Deku in a fight, but Alpha were pretty famous for letting their emotions get the better of them—even over things that didn’t matter.

But maybe there was more to it than Nori knew.

“Hey, Riot,” Nori said. The Pro turned his head and asked what was up. “Did you know our old man could make large explosions?”

“Yeah, of course,” Red Riot said. He looked over his shoulder and narrowed his brows. “Didn’t you guys?”

“He’s only made tiny ones in his palm. They looked like little sparklers,” Toshihiro said, holding his hand palm up with his fingers curled in to mimic what their old man had done years ago. Toshihiro drew his fingers into a fist. “And he only does it sometimes when we ask.”

“Our parents don’t use their Quirks at home,” Youji said, crossing his arms. He looked up through his curly hair and tapped his finger on his arm. “They never made it a rule or anything, but I think they feel bad using Quirks in front of us.”

“Like it even matters,” Nori said. He kicked a loose rock in his path at a trash can and snorted. “It’s not like we can forget that we’re Quirkless and they’re not when dad is on the news every day showing his Quirk off.”

The considerate thought to avoid rubbing their Quirks in their children’s faces meant nothing when Nori knew their true feelings.

He didn’t have many memories from when he was little, but he remembered enough.

Nori couldn’t forget their old man’s bark of cruel laughter or his dad’s horrified face when he said, “All three.”

It’d been the worst day of their lives and the only one who’d left the doctor’s office smiling was the old man.

Nori still didn’t get the joke.


Youji watched Red Riot’s face twist between pity and catching himself to force it back into a smile. He’d seen that same look too many times to let it dig under his skin.

“That makes sense! And besides, it’s not like he could show off his Quirk inside,” Red Riot said, attempting to lighten the mood with a forced laugh. Tamaki looked to the side and shook his head with a huff. Red Riot picked up that it wasn’t working and dropped his smile into something more natural. It was kind but not happy. “His explosions could take down entire buildings if he wanted to. He’s got a lot of firepower.”

“Is that what dad saw in him?” Nori asked. His face twisted into a scowl and Youji knew it was going to be a rough evening if they didn’t distract his brother from the growing bad mood. “He had a cool Quirk?”

“I’m sure that was part of it,” Red Riot said. He rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. “But I’m pretty sure your dad just looked up to him. Bakugou’s calmed down a lot since he was younger, you know. Truth be told, he was a lot like you, Nori.”

Youji covered his face as Nori shouted, “We are nothing alike!”

He hoped dad and their father fared better back at home, since it looked like they were in for a long night of an upset Nori.

At least Toshihiro wouldn’t make it worse. He had been quiet since they met Red Riot at the gate. He kept his eyes on the ground as they walked, biting his lip with no indication that he was paying attention to the world around them.

Youji counted his blessings, though he did feel a little worried.


“Weren’t you going to get the kids?” Katsuki asked, burying his nose into Deku’s neck.

The Alpha rubbed his back as they laid together in bed, wrapped in blankets and warm pajamas. “I had Kirishima pick them up. They’re going to stay with him tonight.”

“Good,” Katsuki said.

Their wide eyes and scared faces wouldn’t leave his thoughts and Katsuki clung tighter to Deku. He’d used to live to see that sort of fear in other people’s eyes, but seeing it on his kids?

Katsuki felt like a monster.

“It figures I lose my temper after Nori and Toshihiro got a lecture on the same thing,” Katsuki mumbled into Deku’s skin. “So much for setting a good example.”

“It’s alright, Kacchan.” Deku rolled on his side and snaked his hands under Katsuki’s shirt to press his palm along his back. He rubbed and kissed Katsuki’s head, leaving his face buried in his hair. “We’ll talk to them about the consequences and reinforce why you don’t get into fights.”

“What consequences?”

Aside from scaring the shit out of his kids, there were none.

Katsuki had learned long ago from the League kidnapping and warehouse incident that as long as it didn’t affect the public or could be covered up with a sob story, Katsuki could get away with literal murder. Deku’s standing, job, and reputation were all too important to have them ruined by the Alpha going wild because his mate got himself arrested.

Katsuki spent too much time trying to figure out parenting and hold himself together to abuse that fact, but as he was safe at home and in bed with Deku instead of at a police station, he figured that fact still held true.

“I think the lesson of ‘If you pick the fight with the wrong person, they might put you in the hospital’ got across,” Deku said. He clutched Katsuki to his chest and nuzzled his hair. “And there’s a big difference between starting a fight and defending yourself.”

Katsuki smirked under his breath as a growl entered Deku’s voice. He’d told the Alpha about what started the fight and he’d only barely stopped the man from hunting down the ambulance to rip the other Alpha apart himself.

“Defending myself would have been knocking the asshole out,” Katsuki said. He shifted in Deku’s hold and reached up to roll a green curl around his finger, rubbing the strands back and forth. “I beat the everliving shit out of him with the intent to use as much violence as possible. It felt damn good, too.”

Deku rolled onto his back again, leaving Katsuki on his side next to him. The Alpha pulled his knees up and put his hand through his hair to fluff it up. “We shouldn’t tell them that part.”

Katsuki snorted and pulled Deku’s pillow over to hug it.

“At least we have the whole night to figure something out to tell them,” Katsuki said. He sat up and scooted back toward his pillow against the headboard. He looked at the clock and pressed his face into Deku’s pillow as he hugged it to his chest. “I’m dreading talking to them about it tomorrow.”

“It’ll be fine, Kacchan,” Deku said. He scooted over and flopped onto Katsuki’s back. He laced his arms around the front over his arms and nipped his ear. Deku pulled the pillow away and tossed it across the bed. “And do you really want to spend all this alone time talking about it?”

Katsuki turned his head and the Alpha grinned at him. Deku kissed Katsuki again and whispered, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve missed the couch.”

“They can’t walk in on us if they’re not here,” Katsuki said. He rested his head against Deku’s and patted his arm. “As nice as that sounds, we really should figure out what to tell them first.”

“We already did: Pick a fight and you might end up in the hospital and if someone attacks you, beat the shit out of them.” Deku kissed Katsuki harder and ran his thumb down Katsuki’s spine to hook it down the back of his pajama bottoms. “Or did I forget to cover something?”

Katsuki shivered under his touch. “You’re right. That’s good enough.”

“Thought so,” Deku said. He yanked Katsuki into his lap and lifted him with that smug grin that screamed “I know you love this.”

After over ten years together, Katsuki had given up denying it.

He kissed Deku harder and wrapped his arms around the Alpha’s shoulders. Katsuki ground his hips into Deku’s abs as the Alpha carried him down the stairs and into the living room. They crashed into the couch to make a mess of the fabric cover that protected the upholstery.


Toshihiro didn’t sleep all night.

He rubbed at his dark eyes and looked at his brothers. Youji looked the same as always—quiet and anxious—but Nori shared the same bags under his eyes that Toshihiro sported.

Nori hadn’t slept either.

“It was fun having you kids sleep over,” Red Riot said, dropping them off at their door the next morning. Toshihiro envied the older Alpha’s endless optimism. He kept that smile on his face no matter what. He’d spent the entire evening with three quiet kids in various stages of confusion and anger and still managed to stay chipper. “I’ll see you three later.”

Nori let himself into the house with his key and yelled “We’re home! You better have clothes on!”

Youji covered his mouth to hide his laugh—though Red Riot behind them walking away from the house didn’t. He laughed until the three closed the door after them.

Toshihiro followed his brothers inside and they found their parents in the kitchen. Their dad set the table for lunch while their father cooked. They both looked well and Toshihiro sighed in relief.

He didn’t want to see his father look as upset as he did after the school festival incident ever again.

“I’m sorry I didn’t go pick you up,” dad said. He set the last plate on the table and moved to meet them at the dining room door. “Did you have a good time at Kirishima’s place?”

“We played a few video games and went to bed,” Youji said, ever the diplomatic one. Red Riot played video games while Nori tapped absently at the game controller—and still won somehow—while Youji and Toshihiro watched, lost in their own thoughts. Youji looked in the kitchen and licked his lip. “Is the old man okay?”

“Kacchan’s doing much better,” their dad said. He put his hand on Youji’s head and ruffled his curls. “But let’s talk about that after we get something to eat.”

Lunch tasted as good as ever and Toshihiro kept his eyes on his father during the entire meal. His loose shirt hung open near his collar and it revealed a second, deep Mark overlapping the fading one from his father’s last Heat.

That had not been there before the school festival.

Toshihiro looked away with a blush and concentrated on his food. They ate the rest of their meal in silence, none of them sure of what to say after the incident at the festival. Nori’s face twisted as he looked between his parents. He had a thousand questions on his tongue and anything he asked would cover Youji’s curiosities, Toshihiro was sure.

But when the time came to discuss what happened, Nori stayed quiet after their dad gave them a quick lecture about self defense and losing your temper.

Toshihiro didn’t know why Nori kept his mouth shut and let his questions fester inside instead of getting answers.

But if he had to guess, it was probably the same reason Toshihiro hadn’t asked about “Ground Zero” either.

Chapter Text

“Careful! That hurts, you moron! Get someone competent if you can’t do the job!”

“Sorry, sorry!” The Omega nurse said, holding his hands up. He backed away from the angry Alpha, hissing as he touched his ribs. The wrappings were loose around his waist from where the poor house pet had been working. “I’ll be right back.”

He rushed out the door of the hospital room, his eyes watering from the fright given to him by a yelling Alpha.

“Aren’t you a relic,” Dabi said. He kicked the hospital room door closed as he walked by, locking it with a swift twist of his gloved hands. The Alpha on the bed looked away from his injuries and Dabi pinned him before he could hit the call button, smashing one hand over his mouth so he couldn’t talk and used the other to hold his arms. “You know, these days even the most dominant Alpha know to keep it to the ones they own. It’s not often you see Alpha believing they can dominate all of them.”

The Alpha’s eyes widened in recognition and Dabi chuckled. He jammed his knee into the Alpha’s ribs and he screamed into Dabi’s palm. The pleasant vibrations increased his good mood.

“Look good for the camera, would you?” Dabi asked. He held his phone up and snapped a pic. The man winced when the flash went off in his face. Dabi checked the photo to make sure the man was recognizable before he returned his attention to the man writhing on the mattress. “That’s a good boy.”

The man shoved at Dabi’s hands, but the sedatives he’d been pumped with kept his strength in check. The Alpha was all yell and no bite—still enough to scare a timid nurse, but it didn’t mean shit to Dabi.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Dabi said. He licked the edge of his lip and leaned down to whisper in the Alpha’s ear. “Not only did you get your ass handed to you by an Omega, but you’re going to lose your life to one, too.”

The man burnt to cinders in a flash of his Quirk.


“Guess who.”

Katsuki glared at the text message on his lock screen. He put his dust rag on the coffee table and took a seat on the couch. He navigated to the messaging app and scrolled past the usual four or five mundane “How are you doing?” texts that would hide the real message if Deku happened to see the phone.

“It was nice to see you being you,” Dabi wrote. “I missed it so much.”

Following the text, he attached a photo from the school festival of Katsuki digging his heel into the drunk Alpha’s throat he must have pulled from a social media site.

“Is that what I looked like?” Katsuki asked. His face twisted in a snarl and the murder in his eyes was clear from the quick snapshot someone captured at the festival. Katsuki had seen his “fierce smile” a thousand times from promotional materials and his old Hero footage, but he’d never looked like that. “No wonder Toshihiro hasn’t spoken to me since he got home.”

“Shame you didn’t get a chance to finish the job,” Dabi wrote in the next message. “I’m not too angry, though. I want to be there the first time you get real blood on your hands.”

“Fucker,” Katsuki said. He scrolled up and his heart stopped when he saw the next photo of the Alpha from the festival with Dabi’s hand over the drunk’s mouth. “He didn’t.”

“But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.”

The next photo was of a pile of ash on a hospital bed and Katsuki punched his coffee table hard enough to crack the surface.

He stayed in place, breathing hard to make sure none of the kids had heard him before he got to his feet and opened the sliding door to the back porch.

Katsuki slammed the “Dial” button and when Dabi answered he cut him off, “Give me one reason I shouldn’t turn you in to the police right now!”

“You called to yell at me instead of reporting me to the police,” Dabi said. He laughed on the other end of the phone, disgustingly amused and self satisfied. “Which you’re never going to do. Shigaraki wants to say hello, by the way. Say hello, Shigaraki.”

A shuffle came from the other end of the phone until he heard Shigaraki’s bored voice come through the speaker with the low sounds of gunfire in the background. “I just killed Nori for the tenth time in a game I’m fairly certain a twelve year old shouldn’t be playing.”

“What?” Katsuki looked up toward the second story window. Nori’s curtains were closed tight and he growled through the phone. He’d deal with the mature rated game later. Katsuki had a bigger issue: “How did you get his username?”

“Random match,” Shigaraki said, chuckling. “And he’s on mic.”

The phone moved again and he heard a tinny voice shout “You fuck! Rematch! I am going to kick your ass.”

That was Nori, alright.

“If you add him to your friend list I will personally kill you.”

“Not before I tell Nori you’re on his friend list and he doesn’t know it.”

Katsuki glared into the phone. He had to stop talking to Dabi when he was upset in the middle of the night. Why did he keep forgetting Dabi told his Alpha everything? Katsuki should have stopped talking with Dabi years ago.

But he hadn’t.

And he’d call him next week.

“I’ll deal with Nori,” Katsuki said. He walked back to the house, glad Deku was out for the rest of the evening at some charity dinner. “And tell Dabi if he pulls that shit again then we’ll be sharing a damn jail cell.”

“Noted.”

Katsuki hung up the phone and rested his forehead against the glass of his patio door to collect himself.


Nori bit his lip hard to keep from screaming at the television. Talking during gameplay was normal. Raising his voice? Sure. If he screamed, Youji would come over to see what he was doing and Nori didn’t want him there.

He wanted to be angry.

He wanted to kill that stupid idiot that kept murdering his character.

“Come on,” Nori said, dashing his character across the screen. One more shot. One more shot and he’d have him—

“Turn it off.”

Nori jumped a foot off the floor and dropped his controller. The old man let go of the end of his headphones and they smacked into the backside of his head. The Omega looked furious and Nori would have answered the demand, but he heard his character die through the headphone speaker.

“No!” Nori shouted. He put his hands in his hair and dug his nails in. He pushed back and yanked off his headphones. “I almost had him!”

The old man stared at the “match over” screen and the list of players who’d been in the round. “Which one were you trying to get?”

Nori stabbed his finger on the screen under the offender and bit his lip. His game was going to be taken away and he hadn’t been able to beat that other player. Was it too much to ask to win one round against a player that actually knew what they were doing?

“Controller,” his old man said. He held his hand out and waved his fingers toward himself. Nori narrowed his eyes and the old man repeated himself, “Give me the controller.”

Nori passed it over and the old man pulled up the control menu with a few practiced clicks. Nori sat up as the old man remapped the controller options and went back to the lobby screen.

The game loaded and his old man moved through the map like he knew what he was doing. Nori sat up further to crawl closer to the screen He put the headphones near his ear to listen to the players curse on the other end as his old man tore through all of them until it was just him and that monster player left in the match.

“Dude,” Nori said.

His old man took a few hits, but he won with a head shot and the guy that’d been tormenting Nori for the past hour and a half went down in an explosion of fake gore.

A direct message from the other player popped up on the screen that read “Cheater.”

“Cute,” his old man said.

Nori almost admitted he was impressed with his old man’s gaming skills, but after the win and clearing the player message, the old man closed the game and proceeded to delete the game data from the console.

“Hey!” Nori shouted. His old man shoved the controller back in his hand and popped the disc out of the drive. “What’d you do that for?”

“Be glad I let you keep the save file. You know full well you’re not allowed to play mature rated games,” the old man said. He smacked Nori on the top of the head with the game box. He stared at it and turned it over to read the back. “Where’d you even get this? Even if you saved up your allowance, they weren't going to sell it to a minor.”

Nori tossed the controller back in the basket and sat on his bed.

He wouldn’t sell out his source.

“Nori.”

His old man had used that tone of voice that said he was having a bad day.

The kind that meant he’d be crying in the middle of the night later.

“My friend at school has an older brother that doesn’t mind buying him stuff,” Nori said, glaring at the floor. “I gave him the money and his brother bought it.”

“Thank you for telling me,” the old man said. He put his hand down and tapped the game against his thigh. “You aren’t getting it back.”

“I figured.”

“Which is punishment enough since you spent your own money on it,” the old man said. He rubbed between his eyes and exhaled. “Don’t do it again.”

Nori gave him a stiff nod.

His old man moved to leave the room and Nori looked at the hands that held his Quirk. The thoughts he’d been chasing away with violent video games came back and he still couldn’t merge the man he’d seen at the school festival with his old man.

He had to ask.

“Hey,” Nori said. His old man turned to face him again and Nori struggled for the right words. “That Alpha. The one you fought.”

The old man flinched and looked away. “What about him?”

Nori had to ask.

“Did…were you really going to kill him?”

“No, Nori.” His old man shook his head and his voice turned thick. Instead of leaving, the old man walked over at sat next to Nori on the bed. “But I did take things too far.”

Nori took a page out of Youji’s book and kept his mouth shut. His dad stared at the far wall and spoke softly.

“I have years of self defense training and if I’d been thinking clearly, I would have restrained that man and called the authorities,” his old man said. He placed the video game on the mattress next to him and folded his hands in his lap. “But I didn’t. I let my anger get the best of me and I did something that I can never take back. That was wrong of me, even if the ass had it coming.”

Nori wet his lip.

He didn’t like his old man, but Toshihiro had told him what that Alpha had said to the Omega. Nori might have even punched him if the old man hadn’t done it first.

“Nori,” his old man said, exhaling with a shuddered breath. “I am grateful every day that you are a thousand times more well behaved than I ever was at your age, but these past few months I’ve seen you inching closer and closer to what I was. You’re picking more fights. You’re angry more often and I…”

The old man trailed off and inhaled.

“I don’t know what to do about it,” he continued. “I know how I want to handle it, but I promised myself I wouldn’t fight with you.”

Fighting back would have been Nori’s first choice, too.

Red Riot had said they were alike.

“You were worse than me?” he asked, voice quiet.

“Your grandmother and I got into fights nearly every day from when I was seven or eight until I was seventeen,” the old man confessed. He put his hands on his knees and squeezed. “Some days were just screaming matches, others were far uglier. The older I got, the worse they got. We yelled at each other, we hit each other, and I did not figure out until I was much older that wasn’t normal.”

Nori stared.

He couldn’t believe what his old man had just said.

Grandma was so nice and sweet. She was all smiles and hugs. The old man always hugged her with a soft smile and quiet words.

“I know, it’s hard to picture,” his old man said. He put his hand on Nori’s head and left it there. “But it’s true. I love her, but I promised myself I was never going to treat you the way she treated me.”

Nori hugged himself and dropped his head forward to hide his watering eyes.

“You’re better than me, Nori,” his old man said. He stood and gathered the game off the mattress. “Stop hiding it.”

His old man left the room and Nori felt numb.


Toshihiro typed the words “Ground Zero” and “Katsuki Midoriya” into the search bar.

He hit enter.

Chapter Text

Toshihiro did not make a habit of looking up his parents on social media.

The risk of stumbling upon people talking about what his parents were like in bed—something he had a real danger of stumbling across on accident too much as it was—wasn’t worth the chance of finding a cute photo of his parents together for his tack board.

But that Alpha’s words had been rotting in Toshihiro’s brain.

He had almost told Nori and Youji what the Alpha had said, in case either of them had heard the words “Ground Zero” before, but he decided to keep it to himself.

Whatever “Ground Zero” meant had to do with their father and Toshihiro didn’t trust Nori with anything dealing with the Omega.

So he had to look it up himself.

“Okay, you can do it,” Toshihiro said. He opened his laptop on the desk and opened the browser. “No big deal. Find out what the Alpha was talking about and you can be done with it.”

Toshihiro typed the words “Ground Zero” and “Katsuki Midoriya” into the search bar.

He hit enter.

The first response read “Ground Zero is an Omega”

Toshihiro clicked it.

“In a reveal that shocked the entire Hero community, Pro Hero Katsuki Bakugou was revealed to be an Omega after he was found collapsed in his apartment by long time friend, Red Riot.

“The late bloomer made an impression on the entire community after being the first person to win a U.A. Sports Festival prior to presenting his Class. All predictions for Katsuki presenting as an Alpha were proved false during his second year when he was reported and registered to the public as a Beta.

“Katsuki made history when he became the first ‘Beta’ to break into the top ten Hero rankings and continued his upward climb until he took rank number three, gunning for the position of his long term rival, Deku.

“The reveal of his true Class has left the community in chaos as we wait for more information.”

Toshihiro didn’t read the rest of the article and went back to the search results. His breath picked up and he clicked the next link.

“The fan named ‘Wonder Duo’ Ground Zero and Deku continue their undefeated reign of victories against every villain in their path. Can anything stop these two? Only time will tell, but until then fans are speculating their future careers. With as many missions these two team up for, it’s only a matter of time before one leaves their current agency to join the other—or maybe the Wonder Duo will both leave and form their own.”

Click.

“He’s mine!”

Toshihiro hit the back button before the video clip finished playing.

“Katsuki Midoriya has made his first public debut as Deku’s mate. The cute couple was spotted hand in hand down the street. Long time fans have been waiting for this moment since Deku started courting Katsuki when they were in middle school and—”

His stomach twisted.

“Deku’s agency has reported he will spend a month away from his Hero work to stay at home with his mate. Katsuki, still suffering from the stress and aftereffects of years of abuse, required more attention than originally anticipated. Like any good Alpha, Deku is there for his Omega and sources tell us that there is nothing of major concern. It has also been reported that the couple will attend counseling together.”

Toshihiro clicked the next page, despite the knot in his throat.

“It’s happened! The rumors that began circulating from the innocent picture of Deku shopping for cribs has been confirmed with an official press release from Deku’s agency: Katsuki Midoriya is pregnant! Let us wish the happy couple many congratulations and I know we’re all excited to see their future litter!”

Toshihiro bit his lip.

He clicked again.

And again.

Click. Click. Click.


“Youji?” Katsuki asked, popping his head into the the boy’s bedroom. His son’s curls bounced as he looked up from his pillow fort in the corner of the bed. He peeked over the top of his book, reminding Katsuki painfully of Deku when he was younger and always had his face in one of his notebooks. “I know you’re not your brother’s keeper, but we just had an awkward personal conversation, so Nori is either going to sulk the rest of the night or come camp in here.”

Youji pulled the book down a little to reveal a confused frown.

“I figured you might like the warning,” Katsuki said. He licked his lip and tapped the confiscated video game against his thigh. “I’ll let you get back to your reading.”

He closed the door behind himself and breathed out.

Katsuki turned and decided he might as well visit Toshihiro. There was no point in only having an awkward moment with two of his kids when he had three.

He took a short detour to the master bedroom to toss Nori’s game on his own game console set up in the corner and went back out into the hall.

As he approached the last child’s door, he heard it: Crying.

“Ah, kid,” Katsuki said to himself. He knocked twice on the door and pushed it open. “I’m coming in.”

Toshihiro whipped his head to face the door. His eyes were thick with tears. They poured down his cheeks and he struggled to breathe through the hiccups.

Katsuki walked over to his sobbing child and put his hand on the boy’s head. “Hey, now. Why are you—”

He stopped when he saw the video playing on Toshihiro’s computer screen with the volume off: He saw himself in his full Ground Zero costume from an old news broadcast.

“How could they do that to you?” Toshihiro said through the thick sobs. He pointed at the screen with a shaky hand and kept choking out the words. “I don’t understand.”

The boy continued to sob and clicked off the tab with the video. It showed a search page full of articles about Katsuki from his Hero work to his arrest.

“Oh, Toshihiro,” Katsuki said. He ran his hand through his own hair and exhaled. What was he supposed to tell the kid? How much had he actually read? “That was a long time ago.”

“They took your Hero License!” Toshihiro shouted.

What?

The boy turned back to his laptop and clicked a tab. He pointed at the photo and breathed harder. “You and dad were partners! You were both Heroes! And they took it away!”

Katsuki stared at the photo: He and Deku stood on top of a mountain of rumble, knocking the back of their knuckles together as they posed for the camera.

He remembered that.

Deku and Katsuki had gone head to head with a nasty Nomu Shigaraki had in cold storage. They’d ripped through three city blocks in that fight with no backup. His explosions hadn’t touched the monster and Deku’s punches were thrown back at him. The two of them won by the skin of their teeth.

It’d been a damn good day.

Katsuki crushed Toshihiro to his chest, his arms wrapped around the small boy as tight as he could.

His tears wet his son’s neck and he breathed hard.

The first person to be upset about the loss of his Hero license and it was his kid.

“Father?”

“I’m so sorry, Toshihiro,” Katsuki said, holding his kid tighter. “I didn’t want you or your brothers to know any of that. How did you even know to look up my old Hero name?”

Toshihiro buried his face into Katsuki’s neck and mumbled. “A lady at the festival called you that after you beat up that Alpha. She said he had it coming because he picked a fight with Ground Zero.”

Katsuki rubbed his son’s back.

It couldn’t have been a secret forever.

“How much have you read?”

“A lot.”

Katsuki pulled back enough to see his son’s face and sat him back in his desk chair. He pulled the chair over near the bed and took a seat on the mattress so he could look at the kid eye to eye. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

“It’s not fair,” Toshihiro said. He glared at his computer over his shoulder and clutched the base of his chair with his fingers. The light from the screen highlighted the wet tears still staining his cheeks. “You and dad were so awesome together! Why would they take that away?”

Katsuki chose his words carefully. “I was breaking the law.”

For being an Omega with a Hero license. For hiding and filing falsified paperwork for his Class. For possessing and using suppressants without a proper prescription. For refusing to report his parents.

The list went on and on.

Toshihiro didn’t answer. He looked down and rubbed his thumb back and forth on the seat of his chair.

“You look like you have more questions,” Katsuki said. He put his hand on Toshihiro’s head and kept his voice soft. “Ask what you want.”

“Did you want to be with dad?”

Katsuki paused.

Toshihiro looked at him with wide, vulnerable eyes that still watered at the edges.

He couldn’t lie to those eyes.

“I don’t know if I did or not,” Katsuki said. He didn’t have the words to explain his disaster of a relationship with Deku to another adult, let alone his twelve year old son. “I want to be with him now, if that counts.”

His son bit his lip and opened his mouth. He closed it again and his face twisted in so much anguish, Katsuki wanted to make it stop. He’d rip his heart out if he could make it stop.

“What is it?” Katsuki asked. He put his hand on his son’s cheek and wiped a loose tear away. “Talk to me.”

“Did you want us?” Toshihiro whispered, so soft Katsuki almost missed it.

He paused.

Katsuki took too long to answer.

But he did force out the words.

“I want to say yes with everything that I have,” Katsuki said, choking on his own voice. Toshihiro’s breath hitched and he tugged his son into another firm hug. Katsuki squeezed and put his hand on the back of Toshihiro’s head. “It’s what you deserve to hear. It’s what you deserve, period. Fuck. You and your brothers are one of the only good things I have and I love you.”

“But you didn’t want us,” Toshihiro whispered. He trembled, his entire body shaking in Katsuki’s arms.

“No,” Katsuki said, firm and true. “I wasn’t finished.”

Toshihiro buried his face in Katsuki’s chest. His small hands clung to Katsuki’s back and he rocked them both.

“You are too young for me to tell you everything right now, but your old man was a mess before you were born,” Katsuki whispered. “I was scared of everything that had to do with being an Omega, including being a parent. I was scared of being a mate. I was scared of being pregnant. I was scared of having children.

“I never got to the point of knowing whether or not I wanted kids, because before I knew it, I was going to have them,” Katsuki said. He kissed the side of Toshihiro’s head. “I didn’t have a choice, Toshihiro. It wasn’t a matter of wanting or not wanting you and your brothers. You were going to be in my life no matter how I felt about it.”

“I won’t be mad if you didn’t want us,” Toshihiro said, squeezing harder. “It’s okay.”

The tears spilled over Katsuki’s cheeks. “You’re not allowed to say things like that.”

“I mean it,” Toshihiro repeated. His fingers dug in harder and his grip hurt. “I want to hear the truth.”

“The answer is both,” Katsuki said. He pried his son’s arms off his back and held the boy’s wrists. He let Toshihiro lean back to look him in the eyes. “Some days I viciously hated Deku for getting me pregnant. Other days I felt helpless and out of control.

“But once in a while, I’d think about you and your brothers and what you’d be like when you were born. I wondered what you’d look like or how you would act. I tried to imagine what you’d grow up to be when you were older.

“I wondered if you’d hate me or love me,” Katsuki said. He pushed Toshihiro’s bangs behind his ears. “On those days, I wanted you in my life. I really, really did.”

Toshihiro nodded, stiff and unsure. He reached up and rubbed the back of his running nose on on the back of his hand.

“I’m sorry I can’t give you a better answer,” Katsuki whispered. “I’m still a bit of a mess these days, but I’m working on it. Are you okay?”

“I’m alright,” Toshihiro said. He pressed his lips together and looked back at the computer. “Are you going to tell Nori and Youji all of this?”

“Later,” Katsuki whispered. He hadn’t planned on telling them at all. The decision to not mention his career as Ground Zero and make sure the kids got an abbreviated version of how their parents got together had been his decision. But it’d be better to hear it from Katsuki and Deku than how Toshihiro had stumbled upon it. “When your dad’s here, too, and we can all talk together.”

“Okay.” Toshihiro climbed around him and sat on the bed. He pulled his knees up and sniffed. “Promise?”

“Promise.”

Katsuki patted the bed and stood up. “It’s late. You should get some sleep.”

“It’s not even seven yet,” Toshihiro said. He cracked his mouth in a smile and flopped back on the bed. “You really did go to bed at eight when you were young like dad said, didn’t you?”

“On the dot,” Katsuki said. He pushed Toshihiro’s chair back to the desk and closed his laptop. “Goodnight.”

“I love you.”

Katsuki stopped at the door and turned to look at the child hugging his pillow. “I love you, too.”

He left the small room and reached up with both hands to wipe his cheeks off with the base of his palms. Katsuki needed to get it together before Deku got home.


The old man walked by Youji without noticing him crouched next to the door in the dark of the hallway.

He got up when he heard the door shut to his parents’ room.

“Ground Zero,” Youji repeated to himself.

He bit his thumb and wandered back to his own room.

Youji had research to do.

Chapter Text

“It looks like you had a worse night than I did,” Deku said. He put his palm over Katsuki’s to smother the crackling sparks. The Alpha held Katsuki’s hand as he flopped over onto his side of the bed. “How long have you been doing that?”

“Ten minutes, maybe,” Katsuki said. He slumped into the pillows and let Deku play with his hand and fingers. The Alpha massaged the inside of his palm with his thumb and Katsuki relaxed. “Not long.”

He had picked up the habit of making sparks with his Quirk when he was a kid and stressed. He’d hide under his blankets and watch the sparks and feel the heat he made from his own palms.

Once when he was six, he’d gotten spooked by his mother walking by and caught the sheets on fire when his Quirk burst. He’d been in trouble for weeks, but Katsuki didn’t give up making sparks. Instead, he’d learned to hide it better with practice and skill. If he kept his Quirk under control, it was quiet enough that it didn’t disturb the rest of the house.

Katsuki had never bothered to hide it from Deku. He thought the sparks were pretty and he embraced any form of stress relief that didn’t involve violence.

The kids typically were not around when Katsuki decompressed, but Toshihiro had caught him once when he was little. Too young to understand that his old man was distracting his racing thoughts with a mindless control exercise, he thought Katsuki was “practicing his Quirk to get better.”

Toshihiro would often ask to see it when he was feeling low himself and it warmed Katsuki’s heart. The way Toshihiro’s excited face would light up when he saw it added an additional level of comfort to the act, alongside fond memories of his father’s same sparking palms.

Deku tugged Katsuki’s hand over and kissed his knuckles over a purpling bruise. “What did the kids do to make you angry enough to break the coffee table?”

Katsuki put his hand across his eyes and fought the urge to tense. He’d been so distracted with Toshihiro earlier, he’d forgotten about Dabi and the cracked coffee table.

He sent a mental apology to Nori and went with the first believable excuse he could think of that held an element of truth.

“I caught Nori with a mature game he wasn’t supposed to have and I wanted to deal with it before you got home.” Katsuki dragged his hand down his face and spoke into his palm. “I hit the table to calm down before I confronted him about it.”

Deku increased the pressure of his hand massage. “Did it work?”

“Yeah,” Katsuki said. He curled his fingers inward and tapped them against Deku’s thumb. “I took the game and decided that the lost money was enough of a punishment after I found out he paid for it himself. After that, we had an awkward moment where I shared about my fights with mom and anger issues, but I think it went alright.”

“That’s wonderful, Kacchan,” Deku said. He switched to Katsuki’s other hand, repeating the motions. Deku leaned up to kiss Katsuki on the side of the cheek. “I know how worried you are about losing your temper with the kids. I’m glad hitting the table helped, but maybe next time we find something that works and doesn’t bruise your knuckles.”

“Or breaks the furniture.” Katsuki cut the massage off short and took his hand back. He rolled over onto his stomach and folded his arms on the pillow to cradle his head. Deku watched him with a fond look, but his eyes looked too thoughtful. Katsuki rubbed his nose with his thumb. “There’s another thing we need to talk about, but maybe you should go first. You said you had a bad night, too?”

“Don’t get me started.” Deku groaned and flopped onto his side, landing his head on on of Katsuki’s shoulder blades. “I think charity dinners are doomed to end up in disaster and next time you’re coming with me. I don’t know how you weaseled out of coming with me to this one, but it’s not happening again.”

“The last time I went to one I ended up stabbing you.”

Deku pinched his side and snorted. “You can’t keep using that as an excuse.”

“Watch me,” Katsuki said, shoving Deku off his back. He sat up and scooted to the edge of the bed to change out of his clothes. “What disaster happened tonight?”

“I don’t even want to tell you. I’ll just get angry again and all I want to do is go to bed,” Deku said. He sprawled onto the mattress and threw his arms out to take up all the space. “But I would like to know what’s going on with Alpha not knowing when to keep their mouths shut.”

“You punch a guy this week, too?” Katsuki asked. Deku rolled on his side and hid his head in his arms. He bit his lip with a sheepish smile that indicated the answer was “Yes.” Katsuki yanked on his night shirt and asked, “What’d the moron do?”

“An older Pro Hero asked if I was okay with my Hero Legacy dying before it started,” Deku said. He got up on his knees and punched the pillow. “Then he tried to see if I was interested in meeting his kid in a Matchmaking House. I had stopped paying attention to him at that point, but he brought up our kids and said I should try again with a healthier Omega.”

“Like it’s my fault the brats are Quirkless,” Katsuki said, glaring over his shoulder. “I don’t think switching to knock up another Omega’ll fix that issue.”

“Don’t,” Deku snapped, digging his thumb into his eyebrow. “That fight is done.”

Katsuki sat on the edge of the mattress. “It is.”

They’d settled that the day the doctor delivered the news that their children were Quirkless.

Deku had dropped the kids off with his mother for the weekend so they wouldn’t see their parents yelling. The two of them had barely held it together long enough to go inside before they tore into each other. It was the closest they’d come to exchanging real blows since the warehouse fight when the Alpha had gone wild.

“How could you laugh like that in front of them?” Deku had yelled. “What were you thinking?”

“I thought it was hilarious,” Katsuki snapped back.

And what about it wasn’t funny? All three of their kids were Quirkless. Nothing else would have been appropriate for their offspring. Deku received a constant reminder of what he really was after he had escaped his own Quirkless fate and Katsuki got a second chance to treat his kids better than he’d treated Deku when they were younger.

Their kids couldn’t have been anything but Quirkless with the way their lives were going and Katsuki hadn’t been able to stop himself from giving in to the humor of the situation.

Deku’s face had made it even funnier.

“You can’t even talk. If the kids were upset about my laughter, what’d they think about you?” Katsuki pointed at Deku between the eyes. “I saw the face you made after the Doc confirmed it for us. You were horrified and didn’t bothered to hide it. Your jaw was on the floor!”

“Because I knew what hearing that you were Quirkless felt like!”

“The kids don’t know that!”

“They sure as hell didn’t know why you were laughing either!”

The screaming had gone on for the rest of the night. They’d pushed and shoved during the fight, but because they didn’t want to explain to the kids why their living room had been trashed, neither of them had struck each other.

They spent the next day in furious silence, not willing to speak.

The day they had to pick up the kids, Deku gave a clipped apology and said he’d drop the subject entirely if Katsuki did.

He’d agreed.

The last said on the subject was a short apology from Deku to the kids for reacting so strongly to the news and to assure them that they were perfect the way that they were and that their parents still loved them.

“Kacchan.”

Katsuki snapped his palm shut to contain the sparks and pulled a leg up to look at Deku. The Alpha pulled his knees up and watched Katsuki with a tired look. “You said there was something else we needed to talk about?”

“Fuck. Yes there was,” Katsuki said. He turned down the blankets and crawled under the covers. Deku stayed where he was and Katsuki shoved half his face into the sheets. “Toshihiro looked up Ground Zero.”


Nori snored on the bed, fast asleep while Youji typed softly. His brother had wandered into Youji’s room with wet eyes about an hour after he’d started his research. Too upset to care about what was on the computer or why Youji was still awake, Nori grunted that he was staying and crawled into Youji’s bed.

The other boy sniffled for a few minutes before he fell asleep.

Youji let him do as he wished without argument, like he always did. The two of them were joined at the hip and Youji didn’t mind the shared association—most of the time. Youji did feel frustration when people misunderstood their relationship. Most assumed that Youji and Nori were so close because they were both Beta.

That was half true.

Out of the three of them, Nori appeared the most “difficult child” from an outside perspective, but Youji disagreed.

Nori was the honest one.

His Beta brother was a simple person who wore his emotions on his sleeves in a raw openness that Youji found rare and appreciated. The expressions on his face matched what he was feeling inside. While Nori did his best to swallow down his frustrations, they always ended up on his face and on his lips when he confessed to Youji everything that bothered him or had upset him.

Toshihiro cried the most of the three, but he also kept most of his thoughts to himself.

Like overhearing an Alpha say important things about their parents.

Youji pressed the back of his fingers against his mouth as he scrolled through page after page of information on “Ground Zero.” Their old man had quite the history and Youji had opened up infinitely more articles when he changed his search terms from “Katsuki Midoriya” to “Katsuki Bakugou.”

He couldn’t tell if his old man had gotten more impressive or more frightening the more he learned.

Nori turned in his sleep, rustling the blankets. Youji turned around in his chair and watched his brother as his thoughts collided in his head with new information.

Their old man being a former Pro Hero made an odd sort of sense. It would explain how their parents had known each other for so long and why they didn’t meet in a Matchmaking House. The years of hiding and drug use would also explain the old man’s skittish behavior and constant self doubts.

Youji went back to the search results and kept looking through old forums for more information.

He wanted to know everything.


Nori shoved his face into Youji’s pillow and breathed in his brother’s light Scent. The hint of pine tickled his nose and forced himself to wake up.

“Youji?” Nori asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. His night shirt hung off his shoulder and he shoved it back up. “Did you sleep?”

“No.”

His brother sat at this desk, biting the tips of his fingers as he scrolled through a forum of some sort. Nori grabbed his pillow to hug and tapped over to look over his brother’s shoulder. “What’re you reading?”

Youji peeked at Nori through the curls hanging over his eyes with a steady look. “Don’t get mad.”

Nori looked back at the computer screen. “What would I get mad at?”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure something about all this will make you angry.” Youji tapped his keyboard twice to switch the tabs. Nori squeezed the pillow. If Youji was snapping at him, it had to be bad. Youji got out of his chair and shoved Nori into it. “Our old man’s been hiding things.”

“What else is new?” Nori snorted and looked up from the pillow and to the screen as Youji reached around his shoulder to grab the mouse. He clicked to a new tab and a picture of their old man appeared on screen, dressed in a black tank top with orange accidents. “Is that the old man?”

Youji folded his arms on Nori’s shoulder and whispered, “Yes.”

Nori clutched the pillow with one hand and inched his hand up to the keyboard. He hit the scroll key and looked through an entire gallery of his old man in promo shots and news clippings under the name “Ground Zero.”

His brother told Nori about what he’d overheard and what Toshihiro had kept from them. Youji had spent all night researching so he was prepared when the old man and their dad worked up the nerve to bring it up.

“Tell me everything, Youji,” Nori said, gritting his teeth and digging his fingers into the fabric of the pillow. He stopped on a photograph of dad and the old man standing back to back and sucked in a breath. “Don’t leave anything out.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” his brother said. Youji leaned all his weight on Nori and shifted to wrap his arms around Nori’s shoulders. “I don’t keep secrets from you.”

“Good.” Nori said. He caught the words “First Beta Pro Hero” and clenched his hands into fists. “We have to stick together.”

“Always.”

Nori nodded and reached up to hold Youji’s hand. “Always.”

Chapter Text

“Where are you going, Nori?”

Toshihiro stood at the school gate with Youji and clutched his backpack to his chest as his brother went the opposite direction from home. Youji looked up from his book and watched alongside him as Nori ignored Toshihiro’s call and kept going toward town instead of home.

He squeezed his bag tighter and fought the temptation to run after Nori and drag him back from by his collar. His brother picked the worst times to be stubborn. Their parents had told all of them before school that they were going to have a family discussion when they got home.

“Nori!” Toshihiro called out. “Come back!”

“Chill out! I’m going to the game store!” Nori shouted over his shoulder. He fixed his backpack straps and kept walking. “Go home without me.”

It was hard to have a family discussion without the entire family there. Nori knew that. The Beta had to be pushing Toshihiro’s buttons on purpose to get a rise out of him. He’d been in a bad mood all day.

But their talk today was important and Nori needed to be there for it.

“Can’t you go later?” Toshihiro asked, ignoring the way the other students stared at the siblings as they shouted their conversation at each other. “We have to go home.”

“And I will!” Nori yelled back, turning around to walk backwards. He shoved his hands in his uniform pockets. He glared and blew a few loose hairs out of his eyes. “After I get what I want at the store, I’ll be right home. Go head without me.”

Nori spun back around and picked up his pace to a light jog as he weaved through the other students and disappeared further down the road.

Toshihiro turned to Youji and hoped he might know what had gotten into Nori. “Why is he going to the store? Dad told us to come straight home today.”

“He wanted to get a game to replace the one the old man took,” Youji said. He went back to reading his book and started to head toward home with a slow pace. “It’s not big of a deal. Our parents can wait an extra twenty minutes before they lie to us.”

Toshihiro held his bag higher and put his face in it. “What are you talking about?”

“I guess you’ll find out later.” Youji didn’t look away from his book. “Like Nori and I did.”

His two brothers walked away in opposite directions. Toshihiro stayed next to the school gate and clung to his backpack. One brother went to town and the other went home like they were supposed to.

He bit his lip.

Toshihiro couldn’t follow both of them.


Nori pushed aside a game box on the lowest shelf in the corner of the store. Youji gave him a ten minute warning text message that he needed to get home soon before dad lost his temper.

Nori knew he was pushing his luck going to the store after they’d all been told to go straight home after school, but he wasn’t ready to hear his old man talk about why he cries at night or hear dad stumble through an explanation about his own lack of control as an Alpha.

After everything he’d read and heard from his brother, Nori’s head felt cluttered with too much information.

Youji understood.

He’d been the first to suggest Nori get something to distract himself after the heavy conversation headed their way after school.

Nori would have invited him to come with him to the store, too, but Youji took his mind off of things with books. He’d appreciate twenty or thirty minutes with his favorite novels before the big talk more than trailing behind Nori in a store.

“There has to be something good down here,” Nori said. He pushed the boxes aside one by one and frowned at the dated titles. He’d spent nearly all of his allowance on the game his old man took and didn’t have much leftover for a new one. His selection had been limited to the used games on clearance, but that didn’t mean he’d lost hope. “Show me something worth playing.”

Behind an old dating sim, Nori found a game with a flashy font for the title and pulled it out: A Pro Hero fighting game.

There was a company that released a new fighting game in the series once a year. Each volume showed off the latest Heroes that had been hired across the various Hero Agencies across the countries. They were cheap and poorly animated, acting more like quick promo items than real games, but they were good for a laugh once in a while. It sounded perfect for a distraction and the game rating was nothing the old man could gripe about.

Nori turned over the back to look at the line up.

The first few names were Heroes Nori didn’t recognize and likely were no longer working, but three names down the list he saw “Deku.” Nori snorted at the old costume design on the tiny icon next to his dad’s name and kept reading. Red Riot had been included as well as the hero Shouto, which meant the game must have come out the first year his dad had been working as a Pro.

Two names from the bottom, Nori saw the name “Ground Zero” and clutched tight to the box.

His old man was a playable character in the game.

“That’s a good one.”

Nori turned his head and looked up into a pair of red eyes.

“Hello, Nori.”


“Hey,” the old man said. He snapped his fingers in Nori’s face until he pulled out his headphones. “Listen to your dad.”

“Kacchan’s right, this is important,” dad said. He sat on the coffee table in front of Nori, Youji, and Toshihiro seated on the couch side-by-side for a “serious” talk. Dad picked up one of his notebooks and flipped through a few pages. “You’re old enough now to understand that your dad fights Villains and that can put you three at risk.”

Nori watched as he pulled out a photo and turned it toward the three of them.

“Most Villains are too scared of me to mess with you, but there are exceptions,” dad said. His voice turned cold and Youji grabbed Nori’s arm, hugging it to his chest. Dad kept the photograph up and exhaled. “The League of Villains are some of the worst Villains I have ever faced and they are relentless. If you ever see this Alpha, you are to run. He is dangerous and he will kill you.”

The man in the photo had the same red eyes as their old man.

Nori hated that was the first thing he noticed.


Tomura Shigaraki.

“I remember when you were small enough to fit in the palm of my hand,” the Alpha said through chapped lips. He tilted his head to the side, knocking his hair in his eyes. His lips stretched into a smile, cracking them further. “Look how big you are now.”

Nori dropped the game and sprinted.

He crashed into a game rack, stumbling over his own shaking legs, but he made it out of the store and onto the street. His backpack smacked against him as his legs moved, refusing to stop for anything until he got home and could get his dad.

“Run,” he whispered to himself. Nori dodged through people and felt his heart pound against his ribs with every breath. “Faster.”

“What’s the rush, kid?”

Nori yelped when an arm caught him around the throat and yanked him into an alley in a blink. A hand covered his mouth and twisted his arm behind his back in a fast motion that left him dizzy. Nori struggled using the self defense tips his parents had shown him, but he couldn’t break the hold of the bigger stranger.

The man with no Scent stayed to his back as he dragged Nori further into the alley and far away from any passerby that could help. Nori kept twisting and kicking but every hit landed without effect.

“Kid, knock it off,” the man said. He kept his mouth over Nori’s mouth but pulled him around to see his captor. Nori’s eyes widened when he saw the telltale stitches from the Villain Dabi. “Or do you want to be a pile of charred ash?”

His deadpanned voice promised pain under the dull tone if Nori didn’t cooperate.

Nori stopped moving.

“Better,” Dabi said. He dropped Nori’s hand long enough to dig his phone out from his pocket and shove it in his own jacket and far from reach. Dabi grabbed Nori’s arm once more after he made a jerk to free himself. The Villain tightened his grip and looked away from Nori to watch the mouth of the alley and the Alpha that had joined them. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Yes,” Shigaraki said, holding up a bag from the game store to show off his purchases. He lowered it and dug through the bag, pulling out the game Nori had been holding earlier. “And something extra while I was at it.”

He came closer and held the game box in front of Nori’s face. “Do you want to play it with me?”

Nori trembled and lost his voice.

“I think that’s a yes,” Dabi answered for him. He pulled his hand away from Nori's mouth and twisted Nori's arm. A wave of pain shot through his entire body that made Nori cry out. Dabi's grip did not loosen and threatened to break Nori’s arm. “Isn’t it?”

“Yes!” Nori shouted. He sniffed and his eyes watered. “I’d like to play.”

Shigaraki patted Nori on the head. “Good.”

A black portal opened behind him and Dabi pushed Nori through it.

Chapter Text

Deku paced in the living room with his arms crossed. Toshihiro and Youji sat side by side on the couch while the Alpha debated how much trouble Nori was in.

“He definitely doesn’t get to keep this game either,” Deku muttered under his breath and into his hand. The Alpha had made it very clear the kids were to come straight home after school and Nori had deliberately disobeyed. “The longer he keeps us waiting, the longer it stays confiscated.”

Katsuki rubbed his thumb in a circle in his temple. He looked at Youji and breathed out. “He said he was coming straight home after the store, didn’t he?”

Youji nodded and pulled his feet up on the couch. He set his chin on his knees and wrapped his arms around his legs. His dark curls fell in his face and he looked longingly at his book sitting in the chair across the room where Deku had put it.

“Let’s give him a few more minutes,” Katsuki said. Guilt gnawed at his chest from using Nori as a cheap excuse the night before. “He’s not that late, yet.”

“No,” Deku said. He narrowed his brows together and tapped his finger on his elbow. Katsuki winced as the anger grew in Deku’s voice. “Nori has been pushing his luck too much. First he picked a fight with his brother, then he’s snuck a video game he knew he wasn’t supposed to have, and now he’s ignoring our instructions. This behavior stops tonight.”

Youji’s finger twitched and he hunched in on himself. Toshihiro looked equally uneasy and fidgeted with his index finger on his hand.

They both looked guilty.

“He has five more minutes before I go get him my—” Deku’s work phone rang, cutting him off. He unhooked it from the side of his belt and answered, “This is Deku.”

The Alpha’s shoulders squared and his brows narrowed together as he listened. Katsuki felt the tension rise in the air as Deku’s face morphed from understanding into fury.

“Understood, I’ll be there soon,” Deku said. He clicked the phone off and slid it back into place. “I need to go.”

“What happened?” Katsuki asked. He turned to the window, but the city appeared quiet outside. “A Villain?”

“Yes.” The Alpha grabbed his work bag near the door and threw it on the chair, ripping it open. He pulled his shirt off and changed in the living room, quick and efficient. Whatever had popped up, didn’t give Deku time to stop by the agency for a briefing. “I’ll call you later.”

He dashed out the door, slamming it shut behind him.

Katsuki bit his thumb and counted to ten.

What Villain was bad enough to make Deku that angry and leave without telling them what was going on?

“Father,” Toshihiro asked. He looked at Youji and laced his fingers together in his lap. “Are we still going to talk when Nori gets back?”

“No,” Katsuki said. “We’re waiting for Deku.”

They practiced the story together. They’d tell the kids together.

He didn’t mind putting it off another day.

“Do we have to stay here?” Youji asked.

Katsuki opened his mouth to answer, but his phone buzzed on the counter behind him. He reached behind to pick it up and saw Dabi’s number. He canceled the call and placed it back down on the counter. He looked at his kids and said, “No, you can go back to your rooms.”

The phone buzzed again.

He silenced it.

It rang a third time.

“Maybe you should answer that,” Toshihiro said, slipping off the couch. “What if it’s an emergency?”

“It’s not. It’s just an annoying friend who can’t take a hint,” Katsuki said. He flipped it over as it rang a fourth time and turned away from the kids as he answered. “What is it? I will call you later.”

“That Alpha of yours just ran out of the apartment, didn’t he?” Dabi clicked his tongue over the phone. “We dug something out of cold storage for the occasion that we knew would get his attention. He’ll be dealing with that monster for the rest of the night.”

That explained Deku’s anger.

“Why are you telling me this?” Katsuki asked, voice soft and well aware that his kids could hear him.

“We found something of yours at the game store and if you want him back, you’ll tuck the remaining kiddos into bed and come say hello,” Dabi said. Katsuki put his hand on the counter and his palms smoked as his Quirk lit. He singed the surface under his palm and sucked in a breath. Dabi had to be fucking with him, but the Villain’s voice remained calm and revealed he spoke the truth. “Kurogiri’s waiting for you in the alley behind the store. Tell that mate of yours about any of this and your kid ends up looking worse than the Alpha I fried the other day.”

Dabi hung up.

Katsuki slammed his phone on the counter, cracking the glass.

“Father?” Toshihiro tugged on his sleeve and Katsuki jumped. The kid took his hand back and held it near his chest. “Are you okay?”

He wasn’t.

“I’m going to pick up Nori at the game store,” Katsuki said. Dabi had his kid. Shigaraki had his son. Katsuki shoved his phone into his pocket and went to the door. He grabbed his coat and slung it on, pulling up the hood on the back over his head. “You and Youji are not to leave this house. Am I understood?”

“But—”

“If I find out you left this house, you’re both grounded for the rest of the year,” Katsuki snarled, loud enough that both boys flinched. “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Toshihiro whispered, eyes wide and hurt.

“I’ll be back soon,” Katsuki said.

He hardened his heart and left the house without comforting his son, locking the door behind him. Katsuki ran down the street toward down. He cursed under his breath and prayed he got there fast enough.


The controller clicked as long, thin fingers tapped at the buttons. The Ground Zero fighter screamed “Die!” on screen as he used a finishing combo that took out the last few bars of health that belonged to the Deku fighting it.

Thin, strong limbs rested around Nori’s waist as the Alpha played the game. He held the controller in front of the two of them, playing through the single player campaign as his captive watched. Nori struggled to keep his breaths even as he sat between the Villain’s legs with his back pressed against the larger chest.

“I forgot how easy this one was,” the Alpha muttered. He clicked the controller twice, switching to a one-hand mode. He continued to play with one hand, resting the controller on his bent knee. “But it is for kids, so that might be fair.”

Nori swallowed the whine of fear with the Alpha’s free hand rested in his hair, gently petting his head.

“Do you want to play now?”

Nori’s arm still hurt from where it had been twisted and reminded him to cooperate. “Y-yes.”

The Alpha dropped the controller in Nori’s trembling hands. The loose, old controller rattled as his hands shook and he forced himself to press the buttons to load the next fight.

He could feel the Villain’s chest as it rose and fell against his back. His nose burned from the strong Scent of sandalwood, so potent and heavy that even as a Beta he couldn’t ignore it. The Alpha kept petting his head, but his other hand rested on Nori’s leg with one finger raised.

The Alpha hadn’t stopped touching him since he’d been dragged into the lair and the Villain had set up the game console.

Nori wanted to go home.

He wanted his dad.

He wanted Youji.

Nori would even take the old man or Toshihiro if it meant getting him away from the Villain.

The Alpha wrapped his arms around Nori’s waist, clinging to him tighter like a child hugging a doll. He pulled a leg up and leaned on his knee, resting his chin on Nori’s head, and boxed him into the Villain’s embrace.

Shigaraki’s hands rested near Nori’s waist and he couldn’t stop the whimper of fear as each finger tapped one after the other.

He knew what Tomura Shigaraki’s Quirk could do.

“We’ve got incoming,” the other Villain said. He got off the couch from their left and strolled to the other half of the large, open room. “Any second now.”

Shigaraki slapped a hand over Nori’s mouth and dug his fingers into Nori’s cheeks. The Alpha turned off the game and said, “Be quiet.”

Too scared to move, Nori did as he was told.

The scary black warp Quirk of Kurogiri opened in front of them and he watched a familiar blond Omega stomp through it. His old man ran straight for Dabi without turning around to see the two on the couch far behind him.

“Dabi!” the old man roared. His palms lit in sparks and the Alpha chuckled, squeezing Nori tighter. “What bullshit are you trying to pull now? Where’s Nori?”

Nori stilled.

His old man sounded like he knew that Villain.

“The kid’s fine,” Dabi said. He laughed under his breath and lit a flare of fire in his palm. “Though the offer to get rid of them for you is always on the table.”

“Shut up,” the old man said. He grabbed Dabi by the collar and asked again, “Where’s Nori?”

“All business, huh?” Dabi asked. He raised his finger and pointed across the room. “And here this was supposed to be a fun get together.”

The old man whipped around on his heel and his eyes widened when he spotted Nori in Shigaraki’s lap.

“See? He’s fine,” Dabi said. He threw his arm around the old man’s shoulders and squeezed him close. “Shigaraki’s not going to hurt his favorite. Maybe the bookworm or the Alpha, but not the one that’s just like you.”

The favorite?

Nori’s breath picked up and the Alpha’s hand squeezed harder over his mouth. He didn’t say anything and Dabi stepped around to get in the old man’s face.

“Move,” the old man said. “I’m getting my kid and leaving.”

“You don’t want to stay for a while?” Dabi asked. “We haven’t had time for a visit in almost a year now.”

“Give me my son.”

“No,” Dabi said. He shoved his hands in his pockets and laughed. “Shigaraki wanted to play video games with him and you and I are long overdo for a face to face visit. I’m sick of midnight phone calls.”

“Then stop answering,” the old man said. Nori could see the smoke rising from his palms from across the room. “Why are you doing this? The kids have always been off limits, so what changed?”

“Shigaraki wanted to play with your kid and I wanted to see you,” the Villain said. He laughed and reached up to ruffle his hair. “Nothing was going to get you to come see me short of kidnapping one of the brats for the evening.”

Dabi stepped closer to the old man and Shigaraki leaned harder on Nori as he watched. his red eyes were locked on the other two across the room.

“The truth is, you gave me hope that the real you is still in there under the house pet mask you’ve adopted,” Dabi said. He stabbed his finger into the center of the old man’s chest. “Maybe even a better version of you has risen up if the bloodlust in your eyes was sincere.”

The old man narrowed his eyes further and gritted his teeth.

“After seeing that, I have to ask again,” Dabi said, licking the side of his lip. “Are you with Deku because you want to be there or are you still terrified of what will happen if you try to leave him again?”

“I want to be with Deku,” the Omega growled, sucking in a loud breath through his teeth. “Give me my kid and stop recruiting. I’m not joining the League.”

“Liar,” the Villain whispered. “In case you forgot, I was there too when he beat you within an inch of your life and kicked you so hard you howled. He broke a rib back then, didn’t he?”

Nori jerked back into the Shigaraki’s chest when the old man threw a punch at the Villain. He missed when Dabi dodged and hit the ground when the burnt man kicked his legs out from under him.

“Oh, this is sad,” Dabi said. He strolled around his old man on the ground and stomped on the back of the Omega’s hand. “You’re out of practice, Hero boy.”

Nori covered his ears when the old man’s Quirk exploded from his palm and he yelled. The noise and roar of the explosions mixed with the heat of the other Villain’s fire Quirk and the bright lights made him shut his eyes. He curled in on himself, breathing hard into the hand still over his mouth.

“Don’t worry, they won’t hurt each other,” the Alpha whispered in Nori’s ear. He rubbed Nori’s back with four fingers and chuckled. “Well, not too much.”

The fight continued to roar on the other half of the room with fire and explosions. Nori didn’t watch. He kept his eyes screwed shut and his hands over his ears.

It wasn’t happening.

It was a bad dream.

He’d wake up soon in Youji’s bed and have to go to school like always.

A crack sounded through the room, followed by the old man’s cry.

Nori’s eyes shot open and he saw the old man hit the ground. A trickle of blood fell down his forehead and into his eye and he pushed up on bruised elbows.

“Were you lying more to me or yourself when you said you were keeping in shape?” Dabi asked. He sat on the old man’s lower back and grabbed his hair, pulling his head back. “This is pathetic. Maybe I should put you out of your misery. It’s painful looking at how far you’ve fallen.”

The Villain raised his hand and blue flames licked at his fingertips.

Nori bit the hand over his mouth hard enough to draw blood. He tasted copper and the Alpha shouted as he ripped his hand away. Nori kicked free and hit the ground.


“Don’t touch him!”

Katsuki turned in time to see his son crash into Dabi’s side, knocking the other Omega to the side. The Villain snarled and Katsuki shoved himself off the floor and moved in front of Nori.

He threw both hands in front and lit the largest explosion he could produce to counter the wall of blue flames aimed at him and his son.

The burst of Heat drew extra sweat from his body and the crash of fire and smoke cleared after a burst so loud Katsuki had to look away.

Small hands grabbed onto his shirt from the back and he wanted to turn and check on Nori, but he couldn’t afford to take his eyes off Dabi.

The other Villain got off the floor with a wicked smile. He tapped at a torn stitch with his thumb and laughed, loud and harsh. “That’s more like it.”

“As much as I hate to intrude,” Kurogiri said, appearing to the left. “But it appears as though Deku will be defeating the monster we sent to keep him company sooner than anticipated. Even with the reports and paperwork required for this fight, he’ll be home within the hour.”

“It was never going to be a long visit,” Shigaraki said. Katsuki turned, putting his hand on Nori’s back to keep him pressed to Katsuki’s back. The Alpha held a bleeding hand to his chest and shrugged. “We can continue this later.”

Dabi cursed under his breath and dragged his hands through his hair.

“I will drop you both off at the game store,” Kurogiri said. He opened a large warp and left it open and waiting. “After you.”

He would have questioned the easy out, but it had become very clear that they didn’t want Deku to know about Nori's abduction either.

Katsuki couldn’t blame them.

“We’re leaving,” Katsuki said. He kept his grip tight on Nori and made sure to keep himself between the Villains and his son. “You touch any of my kids again and you’ll wish I’d sent Deku to rip you apart instead.”

Shigaraki laughed and Dabi spit out a mouthful of blood.

Katsuki pushed son through the warp and they stepped out into the alley behind the game store.

He needed a minute to collect himself, but he got it together long enough to check on Nori.

“Are you okay? Did they hurt you?” Katsuki asked. He used the end of his sleeve to wipe the blood from his son’s lip and chin. Nori winced under the touch, his eyes wet and his entire body shaking. “I’ve got you. They’re gone.”

Nori’s lip quivered and his face twisted as he broke out into thick tears.

Katsuki dragged Nori to his chest and repeated “I’m so sorry” into his hair as his son sobbed into his shirt.

Chapter Text

A crack of thunder sounded overhead and Katsuki looked up in time for a drop of rain to smack into his eye.

He rubbed Nori’s back and stood, picking up the kid and carrying him toward the back of the alley. They needed cover, but they needed to talk about what happened first. As they moved, Nori’s sobs turned into sporadic sniffling. His son held onto his shoulders with his legs wrapped around Katsuki’s waist. Nori kept his face buried in the fabric of Katsuki’s jacket.

The rain grew harder and Katsuki ducked under an awning over the back entrance of a store. He set Nori down on large shipping crate that had been left for delivery and leaned back to look his shaking son over.

“Nori, I know that was really scary but I need you to tell me if they hurt you,” Katsuki said. He brushed Nori’s wet bangs aside and checked his face and neck for any visible injuries. “Tell me what happened.”

“I ran,” Nori said, his voice choked. He reached up and rubbed at his eyes, pushing aside the rainwater that clung to his cheeks. “I did. He was in the store and I ran, but that other guy was in the alley.”

Nori got the whole story out in a jumble of words, describing how Dabi’d twisted his arm—Katsuki would make him pay for that the next time he saw him—and how once they were through the Warp, Shigaraki only played the game.

Nothing else.

“He wouldn’t stop touching me,” Nori said, through gritted teeth. His hands shook and Katsuki covered them with his own. His son didn’t push him away. “He could have—he could have.”

Nori stopped and his shoulders shrunk inward as he bit his lip.

“I’m sorry,” Katsuki said. He rubbed Nori’s hands to warm them up and his heart burned. He’d never seen Nori this scared. “I know it doesn’t make you feel better, but I can promise you that Shigaraki has perfect control over his Quirk. I don’t think he was trying to scare you.”

“Then why’d he keep doing that?” Nori asked, narrowing his eyes. “He kept teasing me and switching fingers!”

“Shigaraki’s touch starved,” Katsuki said, hating that he knew exactly why the older Alpha kept pawing at Nori. “But he still shouldn’t have done that. He shouldn’t have been anywhere near you.”

Nori looked Katsuki in the eye and said, “Because you’re friends with them, right?”

Katsuki stopped rubbing Nori’s hand and licked his lip. He might call Dabi a friend, if he had to, but not Shigaraki. Never Shigaraki. Katsuki looked at his son’s accusing glare and admitted, “I know them.”

“Does dad know that?”


The old man froze.

Nori fought the tremble as the wind blew against his wet skin from the rain.

“He doesn’t,” the old man said. He took a step away from Nori’s seat on the crate and sat on the ground. The old man put his hands in his hair and exhaled with a shaky breath. “Deku doesn’t know about any of this.”

“Why not?”

“A lot of reasons that I don’t have time to explain,” the old man said. He looked up at Nori, his face half hidden behind his hood. Nori could see his eyes though and the hint of panic. “How cruel would it be if I asked you not to tell him about this?”

Dabi had said dad had beaten the old man.

The Alpha had nearly broken his ribs.

His old man hid downstairs in the middle of the night at least twice a week.

The old man cried about once a month.

The information in Nori’s head connected together, painting a picture he did not want to see. Things had been so much easier when he could blame his old man’s sadness and frustrations on being a parent when he didn’t want kids.

“Was what Dabi said true?” Nori asked. He could barely hear his voice over the rain as it picked up. It soaked into the back of the old man’s jacket as he sat near the edge of the awning. “Did dad really beat you?”

“Shit,” the old man said under his breath. He inhaled and exhaled before putting his hand on the back of his head. “Nori, Dabi said a lot of things in there to make you and I upset. You can’t let him get to you.”

Nori grabbed his arm and dug his fingers in. He pressed into the bruise forming under his sleeve and leaned into the dull pain.

“He did,” Nori said. The old man didn’t deny it. Nori’s breath picked up and he spoke faster and faster as the truth came out. “Dad beat you so badly you’re still terrified of him. That’s why you don’t want him to know. You’re scared.”

“I’m not scared of shitty Deku!” the old man shouted at the same an explosion burst from his palm and into the concrete. The smoke lingered around his face and he jerked his head up, revealing angry, wet eyes. “I am not afraid of him.”

His old man believed his own lies, didn’t he?

Nori shook his head and felt like Toshinori as another bubble of tears built up.

So many things made sense and he wished he could go back and start the day over. He wished he’d just gone home.

He didn’t want to know this.

The old man pulled himself to his feet once more and put his hand on Nori’s head. His voice cracked and he leaned forward to press Nori’s face into his chest. “My relationship with Deku is my problem, not yours. He’s not a bad Alpha. I promise, Nori.”

“He hit you,” Nori repeated. “Hard enough to break your ribs.”

“He didn’t break my ribs,” the old man said, a laugh sneaking into the statement. He patted Nori’s back twice before he stepped back and touched his side. “Deku bruised them, but that’s not the point. Dabi was talking about something that happened one time and it’s never going to happen again.”

That’s the sort of thing Omega that were getting beaten by their Alpha told themselves all the time.

Red Riot’s mate, Tamaki, had talked to them about it when it came to “recognizing the signs that something bad might be happening and when you should tell an adult.”

Nori kept his mouth shut though.

He needed more evidence anyway, so he’d keep a watch.

“Nori,” the old man said, continuing the conversation. He put his hands on either side of Nori’s cheeks and squeezed. “Deku will be home soon, so we need to leave too and get cleaned up. I know you’re confused and I know you still have questions, but I will answer them later. I promise.

“But right now,” the old man stressed, “I am asking you to please keep this quiet. I will make up an excuse to explain why we’re so late and why I have bruises from the fight, but Deku can not know the League took you. He can’t know that I know them.”

“Why?” Nori asked. “They’re bad people.”

“They are,” the old man said. “And if you ever see them again, you still need to run and get help.”

“So why hide it?” Nori asked again.

“Because I have been hiding this for too long and this is so much bigger than what you saw,” the old man said. His face fell, scared of the power Nori had to rat him out. “Please, don’t tell Deku. You can’t tell anyone about this—not your dad, not Toshihiro, and not even Youji.”

Nori shook his head. “I can live with not telling dad yet, but I’m telling Youji.”

His old man dropped his hands from Nori’s cheeks.

“I promised I wouldn’t hide or lie to Youji,” Nori said again, his voice thick. “You can’t ask me to lie to him. I won’t do it.”

“Fuck, you’re so much better than me,” the old man said, dropping his head. He reached up and wiped the tears out of the corners of his eyes and stood. Katsuki grabbed Nori and hugged him to his chest. “Tell who you want. I’ll deal with whatever comes out of it.”

Nori hugged his old man back for the first time since he was little.


Toshihiro stayed in the living room and watched the news.

Their dad had just defeated a horrific monster that had rampaged through a district on the far side of town. The beast hadn’t been the biggest or caused the most damage, but four people had died in the time it’d taken dad to get from their house to the attack. Though he still arrived in time to save the Pro Heroes already on the scene who had been overwhelmed.

Youji sat next to him with his book. He looked up at the television every so often, but he mostly kept his eyes on the clock.

An hour after father had left, the door opened. Their father and Nori came inside, drenched from the rain. Their soaked clothes clung close against their skin.

“You’re back,” Toshihiro said, sitting up.

“We’re home,” his father said, his voice numb. He looked over Toshihiro and Youji, scanning the room. “Deku isn’t back yet?”

“He just beat the monster, so no.”

“Good,” father said. He tugged at his wet jacket, but didn’t take it off. “I need a shower.”

Nori stayed in the doorway, shivering and cold. He looked at father’s back with a pained look before he ran across the room past Toshihiro. Nori grabbed Youji’s arm as he darted by and yanked him hard off the couch. Youji dropped his book and it hit the coffee table before it fell to the floor.

“We have to talk right now,” Nori said. He dragged Youji straight up the stairs.

Toshihiro looked at his father, still quiet and staring at the floor. “What was that about?”

His father shook his head. “Not now, Toshihiro.”

The Omega walked past and climbed the steps after his brothers with no explanation or offer of comfort. He had shut down and his face had no expression.

Toshihiro picked up Youji’s book and sat on the couch.

He waited for dad.

Dad fixed everything.

Chapter Text

“He was so scared,” Nori said, holding his hands out. His sleeves had been rolled up and Youji couldn’t look away from the dark bruise on Nori’s forearm. “And I don’t mean he was scared like that jump I got out of him at the haunted house!

“He was terrified! The old man yelled at a super Villain in the face and was fine but the mention of telling dad made him panic.” Nori stopped pacing and returned to Youji. “How messed up is that?”

Youji twisted a curl of hair around his finger as he sat in the middle of the bed.

“I think dad’s hurting him,” Nori whispered. He covered his mouth and leaned on the edge of his mattress. He flopped backwards and spread his arms out. The purple bruise on his forearm brushed against Youji’s back and he curled further in on himself. Nori stared at the ceiling and breathed harder. “The old man denied it but why else would he be so scared?”

“You’ll have to ask him later,” Youji said. “He said he’d answer your questions, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, but only about the Villains,” Nori said. He turned on his side and pressed his face into the mattress. His brother grabbed the blankets and twisted them under his hand, biting his lip. “He looked like he didn’t want to talk about dad.”

Youji tugged on his hair and swallowed. When Nori had dragged him upstairs, he’d been expecting a rant about the old man not letting him buy a video game or about the rain—not a hurried confession that he’d been kidnapped and their old man had saved him.

He didn’t know how Nori was holding it together as well as he was.

“What was he like?” Youji asked. He remembered the photos of the Villain who wore hands for a costume and could feel the chill from a distance. Nori had touched the man. He’d been close to a man that could kill their dad if he came in contact with all five fingers. Youji leaned closer and clarified when Nori looked up with a confused expression. “Tomura Shigaraki.”

Nori scrunched his nose and pulled his arms in. He shivered and pressed his face harder into the blankets. “He was weird.”

“Just weird?”

“Yes,” Nori said, clutching his arms tighter. “He wouldn’t stop touching me and held me so close his Scent was everywhere.”

Youji put his hands on the bed and shifted to sit on his knees. As Beta, they had to be very close to another person to pick up their Scent. He’d always envied that Toshihiro was able to sense Scents from a distance.

“What’d he smell like?” Youji asked before he could stop himself. “What Scent does an Alpha like that have?”

Nori swallowed and it caught in his throat. Youji watched the skin bob before Nori forced it down and breathed again. His fingers clutched at the blanket and Youji wanted to take his question back.

But after gathering his nerve, Nori turned his head toward Youji and said, “One like mine.”


Toshihiro listened to the reporters talk about his dad on the news. He’d stayed after on the scene to help clean up the damage from the monster and it looked like he wouldn’t be leaving for another hour or so.

It was the heroic thing to do, but Toshihiro wanted his dad to come home. He wanted to go upstairs and confront his father or Nori to find out what happened to them. Toshihiro stared at the pages of Youji’s book and tried to read, but he couldn’t concentrate on the words. He put it back down on the table and punched the couch cushion.

His fist trembled in the thick of the cushion and he counted to ten under his breath.

Something had happened to father and Nori while they were out. The two of them looked too bad to have just had a scuffle at the game store.

Toshihiro could forgive his father for not talking to him. Shutting down was how he dealt with stress. Father would be fine later and he’d talk with Toshihiro like he had when they shared that moment after he found out about his Hero work as Ground Zero.

But what was Nori’s problem? He had to talk with Youji immediately? He couldn’t talk to both of his brothers?

“He knows how much I care about father,” Toshihiro growled under his breath. “If what he’s telling Youji has to do with him, he should have told me, too!”

The news program continued to run in the background and Toshihiro had listened to enough. He picked up the remote and turned it off and dropped on his side on the couch.

Dad needed to come home.

If anyone could make Nori talk, it’d be him.


The rainwater washed away with a shower and soap.

Katsuki stepped out of the shower and toweled off his hair as he walked into his dark bedroom. He dropped the towel on his head and pulled his terrycloth robe tighter around himself as he collapsed onto the bed.

His palms ached as badly as his sore muscles.

“I’m more out of shape than I thought,” Katsuki said to himself. He rolled onto his back and held his hand up. His fight with Dabi had been just as the other Omega said: “Pathetic.”

Regular strength training and exercise had done nothing to keep his true reflexes and skills in tact. Muscle memory had kept him alive during that fight, but he’d been sloppy.

One mistake and both Katsuki and his son would have paid the price.

Shigaraki might have wanted Nori for a toy or pet and held back, but Dabi would not have granted the same favor.

That Omega hated Katsuki’s kids. He’d never said why, but the burning feelings had been there from the start when he first offered to murder newborns.

But Dabi had also been all talk.

He’d never lifted a finger to go after or hurt the kids before. Katsuki had believed the Omega would never actually hurt the kids.

Katsuki no longer believed that.

“I need to tell Deku,” Katsuki whispered to himself. If Dabi or Shigaraki were going to pursue the kids, the Alpha needed to know. Katsuki had looked the other way from Dabi’s crimes to maintain their friendship, but going after the kids was a different story. Katsuki licked his lip and his hand clutched his rope. “I have to tell him before Nori does it.”

Confessing after his son talked would make it worse.

Katsuki grabbed his hand to stop the shaking.

“Deku’ll understand,” Katsuki said. He clutched his hands tight into fists and gritted his teeth. He lit sparks in his palm and watched the smoke climb toward the ceiling. “He’ll just be furious I hid it for over ten years.”

But that wouldn’t be enough to make him go wild, would it?

Katsuki didn’t know.

And that did scare him.

Nori had misunderstood in that alley—Katsuki had never been scared of Deku.

But he had been scared for Deku.

If the Alpha lost himself in that wild state in an uncontrolled environment or somewhere truly public, he’d destroy himself. The powers that be covered up his few slips, but there was a point where even they wouldn’t be willing to cover things up—even at the cost of losing their Symbol of Peace.

Deku would kill someone the next time he went that wild. Katsuki wouldn’t be able to stop him—not if what drove him to that point was a threat against his children. And then Deku would lose everything. They’d take his Hero license. They’d take his mate. They’d take his kids. Deku would be doomed to a life of sedation and confinement.

Katsuki couldn’t live with himself if they both lost their dreams.

He sat up on the bed and leaned his head back.

“I have to tell him,” Katsuki said again. “I can’t—”

Katsuki sucked in a breath as a familiar pulse spread from his heart to the rest of his limbs. The gooey warmth spread over him and the sickeningly sweet Scent freed itself.

“Fuck,” Katsuki said. He didn’t stop the choked, half sob as the sensation washed over him. He covered his nose with the sleeve of the robe and breathed through it to hide his own Scent from himself. “I’m early.”

“I guess I need to tell him this first,” Katsuki said. “Of course this shows up in the middle of everything else. Why wouldn’t it?”

He tugged his phone over and dialed, stabbing his thumb into the buttons on the call screen. Normally he’d send a quick warning text, but Katsuki wanted to hear Deku’s voice and for once he indulged his own weakness.

“Kacchan?” Deku answered. “Are you okay? Did something happen with Nori?”

“Nori’s fine,” Katsuki answered. He put his feet flat on the ground on the other side of the bed and swallowed. “My Pre-Heat started about two minutes ago, so I don’t think we’re having that conversation with the kids tonight.”

“I’ll be home in ten minutes, Kacchan,” Deku said. People talked around him and Katsuki could hear the sounds of clean up and sirens. The sounds grew dimmer as Deku left the scene. “Do you want me to stay on the line?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, Kacchan.”

“Tell me about the monster,” Katsuki said. He curled on his side and kept the phone near his ear. “Before I’m too out of it to care.”

Deku laughed on the other end of the phone and started a soft rambling about the monster Shigaraki had sent to keep the Alpha busy while he tried to take their son.

The sweet Scent of Pre-Heat pheromones filled the room as Deku talked and Katsuki tried to stay awake.

Chapter Text

It’d been a long time since Kacchan had last panicked about his Heat.

The damage from years of suppressants and his first horrible experience would likely haunt Kacchan forever, but most of the time he’d come to be at ease with his Heats. But when his depression hit a peak or something reminded him of the past, Kacchan grew scared of his Heat once more and Deku often found himself taking time off work so he wouldn’t leave the Omega home alone during the day.

The fact he’d called signaled that this Heat would be one of the bad ones.

Izuku chalked it up to stress. The entire week, starting with the Culture Festival to Nori’s disobedience had been one long string of difficult situations one after the other. Kacchan’s Heat showing up at the end of it had to be the last straw for his poor mate’s limits.

“You’re not falling asleep on me, are you Kacchan?” Izuku asked, tapping down the walk to his door. He pulled out his keys and stuck them in the door. “You hate it when I wake you up with sex and we both know I won’t be able to help myself when I get upstairs.”

Kacchan snorted on the other end and he listened to the Omega shift. “I’m awake. I heard keys, are you home?”

“Walking in the door now,” Izuku said. He took a step inside and grinned into the phone. “Do you want me to wear the costume—”

“Dad!” Toshihiro shouted, tackling Izuku in the side. His son held him by the belt and breathed hard. “You’re home!”

“Are you okay?” Izuku asked, putting the phone by his shoulder. “You’re shaking.”

“I need to talk to you,” Toshihiro said. “Please? It’s important.”

“Deku,” Kacchan said on the other end of the phone. “What’s going on?”

“Just a second, Toshihiro needs something,” Izuku said. He put his hand on his son’s head and asked, “What’s the matter?”

“Father and Nori are acting weird,” Toshihiro said. He gripped Izuku’s belt and looked down. His face twisted in worry and Izuku tried to pay attention as Kacchan asked “What’s he saying?” at the same time Toshihiro said, “Something bad happened and they won’t tell me.”

“Something bad?” Izuku asked. Was he talking about Kacchan’s Pre-Heat? Maybe he snapped at the boys when it showed up. “Start at the beginning, Toshihiro.”

“I don’t know what happened, but right after you left to fight the monster, father got a weird phone call,” Toshihiro started. He pointed behind him at the counter. “The guy kept calling until father answered and then he got really angry and burned the counter.”

The large black spot confirmed Toshihiro’s statement.

“Deku, I need you to come upstairs,” Kacchan said again. “I can explain.”

Izuku heard Kacchan’s voice crack—what was going on?

“And then father left! He said he was going to get Nori but they didn’t come back for like an hour,” Toshihiro blurted. He sniffed and his eyes watered. “They looked really bad when they came back and they wouldn’t say anything.”

“Deku,” Kacchan said again. “Tell him it’s fine. I’ll explain.”

“Is that father on the phone?” Toshihiro asked. His eyes widened and a red blush appeared on his cheeks. He jumped back and hunched his shoulders together. “I didn’t mean to tell on him, but I was really worried.”

“It’s okay,” Izuku said. He ruffled Toshihiro’s hair and exhaled with a smile. “He understands.”

Izuku hoped he did, anyway.

Kacchan had gone quiet on the other end of the phone.

“Everything is going to be fine,” Izuku said. He pushed gently on his son’s back and nudged him toward the stairs. “But right now, your father and I need to take care of some things. We’ll talk in the morning, okay?”

“Okay,” Toshihiro said. He swallowed and picked up a book off the table. Toshihiro held it to his chest and looked over his shoulder. “Night.”

“Night,” Izuku said.

His son tapped up the stairs first and Izuku walked slower so he could make sure all three of his kids were in their rooms before he entered the pheromone-drenched bedroom.

“Kacchan?” Izuku asked. He stopped before he reached the stairs. “Do you want to talk about any of this before I come up?”

“No,” Kacchan answered. “Let’s just get it over with so we can talk.”

Izuku took the first step up the stairs and pressed his lips together. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

He clicked off the phone and put it in his pocket. Izuku checked the kids’ rooms as he went down the hallway and stopped in front of his own door. The Scent-Proofing materials they’d added did their job and no pheromones leaked from the bedroom.

Izuku took a breath and steadied himself before he went inside.

Kacchan needed him.


Katsuki had never been scared of Deku.

The Alpha pressed into his back, shoving his nose into Katsuki’s neck above his Mark. Deku bruised his sides with his grip and shivered as he cooled down. They collapsed into the mattress and rested there.

The drool from Katsuki’s cheek smeared into the pillow and he caught his breath as the last of his pheromones cleared thanks to his sated and contented body.

Deku nuzzled his back and squeezed him around the waist. It’d take him another minute or two to come back to himself and blink away the slitted pupils from his loss of control.

They had to talk.

Katsuki sat up on his elbows, his body sore and trembling. He’d came, but it’d been a physical reaction and nothing more. He’d barely felt it. Katsuki had been too worried about the talk that was to come to care about the moment.

He really didn’t want to tell Deku about his dealings with the League.

“Kacchan,” Deku mumbled. He kissed Katsuki’s shoulder and slid away, to drop on the side of the bed. He brushed the back of his fingers against Katsuki’s arm. “You don’t look so good.”

He wasn’t afraid of Deku.

“Let’s clean up so we can talk,” Deku whispered. “A warm shower’ll feel good.”

He sat up and kissed Katsuki on the side of his head. The Alpha tugged his arm and Katsuki followed him off the mattress. His mind raced as the minutes counted down. He had to tell Deku about everything.

Katsuki needed to tell him now while he still had the courage—No.

He didn’t need courage.

Because he wasn’t afraid of Deku.

“Wait,” Katsuki said. He squeezed Deku’s hand and swallowed. “I need to say it now.”

He’d been afraid for Deku.

Katsuki could admit that.

“What is it, Kacchan?”

But he’d never been scared of Deku himself.

Katsuki had nothing to be afraid of by telling Deku his long kept secrets.

And he’d prove it with confession.

“Dabi’s an Omega,” Katsuki blurted. His chest twisted at the betrayal, but he could trust Deku. The Alpha was his mate. They were…Katsuki wasn’t afraid. Katsuki let go of the Alpha’s hand and held it near his chest. “He’s Shigaraki’s mate.”

Deku’s eyes opened wider and his lips pursed. His brows narrowed in confusion, but he listened.

“We’re friends.”

When they were little children, Katsuki had been afraid that Deku looked down on him—but never the other boy himself.

How could he be scared of a runt he could beat up without trying?

“For a long time. From before anyone knew I was an Omega.”

In middle school, Katsuki had been afraid Deku would ruin him. The self-destructive Alpha had been determined to keep up with his betters without a Quirk. If he succeeded, he’d make Katsuki look bad.

But he hadn’t been afraid of Deku—just what he had the potential to do if he ever got his act together.

“I hadn’t planned for him to kidnap me back then, but I didn’t hate being with him when we were together. I hated Shigaraki, though. He was still an asshole.”

In high school, Katsuki had been afraid Deku would surpass him as a Hero.

Deku had, of course. That nightmare had come true, but it hadn’t been as bad as Katsuki had thought. Their rivalry and the drive to keep up and push him back into second place had been thrilling in its own way.

They’d become better friends because of it.

Katsuki had been afraid of his own failings.

Not Deku.

“That’s why I didn’t want to rat him out to the police,” Katsuki said. “He’d helped me come to terms with being an Omega. He understood, Deku. He hated the system like I did.”

When he’d presented, Katsuki had been terrified that Deku would claim him.

That…that had happened, too. But it wasn’t bad. Not in the end.

Katsuki and Deku were always going to end up together one way or another. After years of self reflection, Katsuki could admit he had been scared of getting claimed in general—he would have been afraid of any Alpha at the time. Katsuki was scared of giving up his autonomy.

He’d been afraid of loss.

Deku hadn’t been the source of his fear.

“And that’s why I kept seeing him.”

Katsuki was not afraid of Deku.

“He even came to see me when I was pregnant.”

Deku hadn’t been perfect, but he and Katsuki were good for each other.

“It was good and things were short and easy up until,” Katsuki sucked in a breath. He kept his eyes on Deku’s face, watching the Alpha’s lip twist in hurt. “Until he brought Shigaraki to see the kids after they were born.”

The Alpha sucked in a breath.

“I should have told you this then, but they didn’t hurt the kids and I didn’t,” Katsuki stopped. He shook his head and bit his lip. “I didn’t know what to do. I’d been keeping it a secret for so long I wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

Deku listened.

Katsuki’s palms sweat. He reached up and shoved his hair back.

He wasn’t scared.

“I still see Dabi. I call him once or twice a month,” Katsuki confessed. “And I see him in person a couple times a year.”

Deku didn’t say anything, though his breath had picked up. The scars on his hands twisted as he gripped his hands into loose fists.

“But today,” Katsuki stopped. He inhaled and bared his soul as naked as his body. “Today he went too far.”

Katsuki told Deku everything.

The Alpha listened to Katsuki with a straight face, his eyes narrowed and angry.

“I couldn’t keep hiding it,” Katsuki said. “Not when Nori said something like that. He’s right. It’s gone on too long and you needed to know.”

Deku took a step forward and hugged Katsuki to his chest. The Alpha rubbed Katsuki’s back and sighed, “Oh, Kacchan.”

Katsuki was not afraid.

“All this time, I thought you were making progress,” Deku said. He squeezed and Katsuki sucked in a breath as his hands dug into a bruise on his lower back. “But you just learned to hide it better.”

Katsuki licked his lips. “Deku?”

“It’s alright, Kacchan,” his mate said. He went back to rubbing Katsuki’s back up and down and rested their heads together. “I’ll take care of this for you. You don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

“I can handle this,” Katsuki said and the indignation grew in his chest. He pushed at the Alpha’s chest, but his mate wouldn’t budge. “I don’t need you to take care of things, I just wanted to make sure you knew so you wouldn’t be caught off guard.”

“Be quiet and don’t move, Kacchan.”

The Order came soft and the anger behind it brought Katsuki to a pause.

Deku released him from the hug and Katsuki sucked a breath in through his teeth when he met slitted eyes and cold fury.

“We had one rule, Kacchan.” The Alpha spoke evenly, but his voice cracked with tears he held back. “You can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt yourself or break the law and you’ve confessed to doing both for years.”

Katsuki wasn’t afraid.

His palms sweat and his breath hitched, but he was not scared.

“You’ve put yourself in danger,” Deku continued, his voice cracking. “You’ve put our children in danger.”

Katsuki wanted to speak but the Order kept his words trapped in his throat.

“It stops now,” Deku said. He walked over to the nightstand and picked up Katsuki’s phone. He tapped in Katsuki’s code and he didn’t need to see the screen to know the Alpha was looking at his chat logs. “You’re going to do exactly what I tell you to do, I will take care of the League tonight, and I will be back in time for your Heat tomorrow.”

Katsuki wasn’t scared.

“After that, things are going to change,” Deku said. He walked back to Katsuki’s side and shoved his phone in his hands. “This is never going to happen again.”

The Alpha did not lash out or yell like Katsuki had feared.

But he did give another Order.


Dabi walked to the docks, yawning into his sleeve. He smirked to himself as he arrived at the meeting point and pulled out his phone to check the time. A few minutes early, even without Kurogiri giving him a pick up, gave him plenty of time to make sure he caught Bakugou when the other Omega arrived after asking him to meet.

Maybe they’d get into another fight when Bakugou let him have it for picking on his brat.

“We should have snatched his kid years ago,” Dabi said to himself. He walked to the end of the pier and shoved his phone in his pocket with a satisfied smile. Their fight had been exactly what they both needed. “I haven’t seen him that lively in ages.”

Bakugou had been out of shape, but the old him was still in there—just like Dabi had seen when he attacked that Alpha at the brat’s school.

The other Omega had looked alive and it had to feel good to emote all that inner rage. The house pet life didn’t suit him. He deserved to unleash that anger onto the world. Bakugou could tear it all apart.

He had the power.

He had the drive.

But it’d been smothered and only came out to play under extreme circumstances—but Bakugou had a taste of his old power again. He’d want more of it.

And Deku would never be able to give that to him.

Bakugou knew that, didn’t he?

“His Alpha has to be Ordering him to stay put,” Dabi mumbled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette. He lit the end with his Quirk and took a slow drag. “There’s no way he’d stay with Deku when he could be with Shiga—”

Dabi screamed.

A hand slapped over his mouth and sharp teeth continued to dig into his shoulder, biting straight down the middle of where the scarred skin had been stitched to the smooth.

He ignited his Quirk, but the flames did nothing to dislodge his attacker and the venom flooded his veins.

Dabi had forgotten the agony of a forced imprint.

He felt the rush of the burning venom against every nerve and his Quirk extinguished as his knees buckled. The Alpha Marking him held him up at the waist and his grip on Dabi’s mouth continued to press down to keep him from yelling.

Satisfied with his work, the assailant released Dabi and dropped him. He hit the ground on his knees and held himself as he struggled to breath through the pain.

A flash of Bakugou with his head on the ground after Shigaraki had Marked him filled Dabi’s head against his will.

“Stay down there and submit. Don’t use your Quirk or speak.”

Dabi obeyed the Orders without question.

He knew that voice.

“Look up.”

He obeyed and his voice choked in his throat.

When Dabi looked up, he didn’t see a Hero.

He saw an Alpha.

Chapter Text

Scents were as unique as a fingerprint or an Alpha’s venom, but it was not uncommon for individuals to share a base Scent under their variation.

Their old man was hardly the only Omega on the planet that smelled like roses, nor was Youji the only one Beta that smelled like pine. Their dad’s cedar Scent and Toshihiro’s wisteria were also fairly common, but much more potent due to their Alpha Class. There were only so many Scents in the world, but the chances of running into someone with a similar Scent was a rare event all the same.

“What are the odds that you and the leader of the League of Villains both smell like Sandalwood,” Youji said. He pressed his nose closer to his brother’s neck and inhaled, breathing in the earthy scent. “I wonder if our parents made the connection since they both have dealt with the Alpha.”

“I think they did.” Nori shifted and put his hand on the back of his head. He scratched at the base of his hair and sucked in a breath. “Right after I presented the old man was scarcer than usual, remember?”

“I do,” Youji said. At the time, he’d assumed their old man was disappointed Nori wasn’t an Alpha like Toshihiro. Their old man had his bad moments, but he had always done his best to avoid being outright cruel. If he couldn’t hide his feelings from his face, he hid himself entirely. Youji had respected that, even as he shared Nori’s bitterness that the Omega wasn’t around. “If he knew the Villain personally, he’d definitely know his Scent.”

“I hate this,” Nori said. He wrapped his arms around his knees and leaned on the back wall near his window. “The more I think about things, the more his behavior over the years makes sense.”

Youji agreed.

“Most of it, anyway,” Nori said. He huffed and kicked his legs out to rest them straight in front of him. He held his hands up and stared at his palms. “None of this explains why he laughed so much when the doctor said we were Quirkless.”

“I think it does.”

Nori scrunched his nose. “Why?”

“Think about it,” Youji said. He put his cheek in his hand and tilted his head to the side. “If even half the stuff you’re suspecting is true, wouldn’t it be funny? Our dad was horrified we were Quirkless. You know he was expecting us to have a Quirk like his or the old man’s so we could carry on his Hero career and there’s no chance of that now.”

“So the old man was laughing because it hurt our dad?”

“That would be my best guess.”

“I don’t know,” Nori said. He rubbed his arm and shook his hair out with a growl under his breath. “Why is this so complicated?”

Youji patted Nori on the back. “It is a little much.”

Nori flopped over and threw his arms out on the mattress. “You think dad’s home yet?”

“I don’t know,” Youji said. He scooted to the edge of the bed and got up. Whether their dad was home or not, Youji wanted to check on their father and maybe Toshihiro if he was still sulking downstairs. “We can could go look and see.”

Nori rolled over and off the edge of the mattress, catching himself before he hit the ground. “Let’s go.”


Katsuki sat in the middle of the bed and hugged a pillow to his chest. The dried sweat and leftover fluids from the sex itched against his skin. He should get up and take a shower like Deku had before he left to meet Dabi, but his body didn’t want to obey.

Moving felt like too much effort.

The clock on his bed displayed the time as ten-thirty, about fifteen minutes after Katsuki had told Dabi to meet him at the docks under Deku’s Order.

“Shit,” Katsuki said, dropping his face into the pillow. He burned the fabric with his Quirk and counted in his head to stay calm. The past memories of Deku storming Shigaraki’s warehouse played on repeat in his head, but this time he wouldn’t be there to knock some sense into his Alpha. “Deku’s going to kill them.”

Deku said that he wouldn’t lose control, but that could change when he saw Dabi or Shigaraki face to face.

Both of those idiots had enough of a mouth to provoke Deku without trying too hard.

“Please, please let him keep it together,” Katsuki mumbled into the pillow. He ripped off a burned portion of the pillow and rubbed his fingers together to get rid of the ash. “For everyone’s sake.”

A soft knock tapped at his door.

“Yes?” Katsuki called. He pulled the blankets over to cover himself in case the kids opened the door without permission and put the pillow down over his lap. “Did you need something?”

“Can we come in?” Nori asked.

“No,” Katsuki said. He couldn’t deal with the kids and their problems between his worry about Deku and the splitting headache. “Go to back to bed, and whatever it is, we’ll talk in the morning.”

“Are you okay?”

His son’s voice sounded too small and shy to belong the headstrong Beta that reminded him so much of himself. The concern coming from the son that disliked him the most was a sign of how pathetic Katsuki had become. If even Nori felt bad for him, he had to have fallen low.

He covered his eyes with his hand and lied. “I’m alright. I’m just tired and we can talk tomorrow.”

The door pushed open and Nori stomped inside while Youji flipped on the light and closed the door behind them. Nori stopped at the edge of the bed and he narrowed his eyes in a way Katsuki had seen a thousand times in the mirror.

“You’re not alright,” Nori declared. He slammed both hands on the mattress and leaned toward Katsuki. “Stop lying!”

Katsuki felt his lips stretch into a soft smile and he rubbed the back of his neck. “Are you that worried, brat?”

“No,” Nori said, jumping back and blushing. He crossed his arms and turned his head up. “But you still shouldn’t say you’re fine when you’re not.”

“And kids shouldn’t break into their parents room when they tell them to go to bed,” Katsuki said. He made sure the sheets continued to cover him as he shifted to face his kid. “What did you need?”

“I was going to ask if you changed your mind about telling…” Nori trailed off. His eyes dropped and focused on a spot near Katsuki’s side. “Why do look like you got thrown around by a bear?”

Exposed by the overhead light, the multiple bites, bruises, and purpled skin from his Pre-Heat sex with Deku were on display. Katsuki looked down and cursed, pulling the sheet up higher to cover the large, darker ones near his back.

“Did dad do that?” Nori asked. His face twisted in disgust and Katsuki remembered their conversation in the alley. “He did, didn’t he?”

“Stop that thought right there! Deku did this but it is not what you’re thinking,” Katsuki said. Nori and Youji stared him down, waiting for an explanation. Katsuki almost told them outright what happened, but then he remembered they were twelve and while they’d had a brief sex discussion after they presented, it didn’t cover rough sex. “I can’t actually tell you why I have so many bruises right now, but trust me, it’s not what you’re thinking.”

Nori frowned harder and huffed. “Sure.”

Katsuki had no desire to give his kids a detailed lecture on sex education or explain “Pre-Heat Pheromones make Alpha lose their shit,” but he also couldn’t let Nori think Deku was beating him.

He scooted closer to Nori and grabbed his son by both cheeks. Katsuki looked him dead in the eye and said, “Any bruises Deku gives me are ones I let him. They’re from sparring, mutual fights where I hit him back just as hard, or things you’re too young to hear about or me to even try to explain. He’s not hurting me for kicks, okay?”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Nori said. “What are you even talking about?”

Twelve.

His kids were twelve.

“Deku will explain it when he gets back.”

Assuming of course that the Alpha hadn’t been arrested for murder.

He hoped Dabi kept his mouth shut.


“You will answer my questions and you will tell me the truth,” the Alpha Ordered. Dabi snarled with gritted teeth but had no choice but to obey. Deku shoved him into the space between two large warehouses to put them out of sight from any passerby. “Why’d you take Nori?”

“Impulse,” Dabi answered. He flexed his fingers, willing his Quirk to light but he was still under Orders to not use it. That damn Hero had been as specific as his own Alpha had been when making sure Bakugou behaved in their base. He had no choice but to cooperate with Deku’s demands. Dabi imagined all the ways he wanted to fry the Alpha as he finished explaining. “Shigaraki saw the kid in the store and couldn’t help himself. The mini-Bakugou is his favorite brat and he thinks if the kid likes him, Bakugou will, too.”

“What exactly does he want with Kacchan?”

“To free him from you,” Dabi growled. Deku narrowed his eyes and gripped his hand into a fist. “Because that’s what I want. Bakugou was amazing and you destroyed him!”

The Alpha growled and narrowed his eyes.

But Dabi kept talking, powering through while he still could between questions. “What’d you do to him to make him talk?”

“I didn’t do anything,” Deku said. “Kacchan told me you took our son and I said I’d take care of it.”

“Bullshit,” Dabi answered. “There’s no way in hell he ratted Shigaraki and I out unless you forced him to.”

“You took Nori and twisted his arm. Tomura Shigaraki molested my son,” Deku repeated, grabbing the front of Dabi’s shirt and slamming him into the wall. “Did you honestly think he’d keep that from me?”

“Yes,” Dabi said. “He doesn’t tell you shit and for good reason.”

“The only thing Kacchan’s kept secret is you.”

“You keep believing that,” Dabi said. “But I’m the one he talks to in the middle of the night. I know him better than you ever will.”

“You think you know Kacchan better than I do?” The Alpha punched the wall near Dabi’s head, shattering the building’s siding. Dabi sunk into the groove as Deku leaned in his space and laughed. “Because of what? A few conversations a month? Because you share a Class?”

Dabi saw the sparks of the Alpha’s Quirk and snapped his mouth shut.

“Kacchan and I have known each other our entire lives,” Deku said, pulling his fist out of the wall. Bits of the siding fell on Dabi’s shoulder and made dots against the dark fabric of his coat. “No one knows him better than I do.”

“You know him well enough to break him,” Dabi said, pleading with his heart to stop racing. “After he got mated to you, he went from a terrifying monster to an anxious, broken wreck!”

“He’s always been a broken wreck!” Deku shouted back, his eyes slitting once more in anger. Dabi backed into the broken wall and almost bowed his head. The intimidating Scent from the Alpha commanded him to “Submit” but Dabi had his pride. Deku lowered his voice and his chest heaved. “Kacchan’s good at hiding it so no one noticed before how much of an insecure mess he is—including me.

“I missed it, too.” Deku breathed slower and stepped back, his shoulders dropping. He stared at the ground and the face he made had enough self loathing to catch Dabi’s attention. “Kacchan’s true feelings rarely come out, but during our first year at U.A., I got to see them. Kacchan was pushed to a breaking point between his peers matching his skill and you and the League kidnapping him.

“I’ve seen Kacchan without the facade,” Deku said. The Alpha glared Dabi down and his eyes narrowed. “I saw how much he struggled and how much he was hurting. His Class didn’t change anything because Kacchan’s always been like this. His Class being out in the open means he doesn’t have to hide it anymore, that’s all.”

“I bet you love it, too,” Dabi said. “The more miserable he is, the more he relies on you, huh?”

“Believe what you want,” Deku said. He fixed his gloves on his arms and straightened his shoulders. “Because it doesn’t matter. You are never seeing Kacchan or our children again.”

Dabi spit at the Alpha’s face.

“We’re done here.” The Alpha slammed his hand over Dabi’s mouth and Ordered, “Take me to Tomura Shigaraki.”

Chapter Text

Katsuki shooed the kids away minutes before the sluggish haze of his Heat muffled his senses and turned the world hazy.

He’d grown used to waking in the muddled state, pliable and tired as his body conserved energy for the active evening, but it’d been a long time since he’d been awake for the transition.

Kirishima’s ringtone—the Crimson Riot’s theme song that Kirishima had put there himself—shot through the fog and forced Katsuki out of his doze.

The phone continued to ring until Katsuki’s groping hand landed on it. He dragged it off the nightstand and answered it with a groggy and hoarse, “What?”

“Are you watching the news?”

“No.”

Katsuki had made it a specific point to not watch the news. He didn’t want to think about Dabi or the League or know what Deku had in store for them. His guilt wanted to put it off as long as possible. And if worse came to worst and Deku would be tried for murder, Katsuki wanted to find out after his Heat—

If Deku got arrested he wouldn’t be back for Katsuki’s Heat.

He sat up and focused, gathering himself and pushing past the exhaustion drawing him back to sleep. Katsuki found the remote and turned on the television at the end of the bed on the wall.

Katsuki clicked past the cooking channel and stopped on the news, narrowing his eyes at the commercial playing. “What happened?”

“Deku attacked the League headquarters!” Kirishima shouted. Katsuki heard the same commercials playing in the background of his phone and willed the television to hurry up and get back to the news. “He took down Shigaraki and Kurogiri while they were in the base alone. But you know the weirdest thing?”

Katsuki relaxed and exhaled. Kirishima had said “took down” not “killed.” The relief he felt swelled in his chest. “What was?”

“They haven’t reported it on the news yet, but I heard through Kaminari who was at the station that Dabi turned himself in.” Kirishima paused as the news clicked on and they both watched as the newscaster showed scenes from the footage as Deku dragged Shigaraki out of a warehouse by the back of his neck. The Alpha caught himself staring and kept going. “He’s giving them League member locations and they’re hoping to take them all down in the chaos of Shigaraki getting arrested. No one knows why he betrayed them all, though, and it’s got everyone on edge that this is a trap.”

“It’s no trap,” Katsuki said, his shoulders slumped. There could only be one explanation for the other Omega’s behavior. Katsuki put his hand over the Mark on his shoulder and bit his lip hard as he pictured his mate biting someone else. “Deku Ordered him to do it.”

“How could he do that?” Kirishima asked. “Isn’t Dabi an Alpha?”

“No,” Katsuki whispered. “He’s not.”

Katsuki betrayed Dabi a second time and told Kirishima what he’d told Deku.

The other Alpha took it about as well as Deku had, but he listened when Katsuki told him to stay at his apartment with Tamaki instead of coming to talk further in person.

Kirishima was the last Alpha Deku needed to see when he got home.


Toshihiro closed the fridge when the front door opened in the other room. Forgetting the glass of milk he’d gotten to drink, he stayed low as he crept to the entrance of the kitchen to see who’d be coming into their house well after midnight.

He peeked around the corner and saw his dad, in his full Hero gear, push his hood back and yank down his face mask.

“Dad?” Toshihiro asked. He rubbed his eyes and walked into the living room. “Did you go out?”

“Why are you up?” his dad asked, not answering the question. He narrowed his eyes and his voice kept the “Hero” tone that he reserved for Villains. “You’re supposed to be in bed.”

“I was getting a drink,” Toshihiro whispered. He pointed at the kitchen and said, “Some milk.”

The fear must have shown on his face, because his dad pinched between his eyes and counted before he lowered his shoulders. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. It’s been a long night.”

Dad put his hand on Toshihiro’s head. “Get your drink and go back to bed.”

“Okay,” Toshihiro said. He tapped back into the kitchen to grab his cup before he stepped through the living room. His dad sat sprawled on the couch and covered his eyes with his knees up. Toshihiro stopped near him and clutched his cup. “Aren’t you going upstairs, too?”

“In a little while,” dad said. “I don’t want to wake up Kacchan yet.”

“Did you have work?” Toshihiro asked. He checked the time and frowned. “Was there a Villain attack?”

His dad raised his arm and watched Toshihiro. “Have you spoken with Nori yet?”

“No,” Toshihiro said, narrowing his brows together. “Why?”

“You’ll find out in the morning,” his dad said. He put his arms back down and exhaled. “Go straight to bed. You three are staying home from school tomorrow and we have a lot to talk about.”

Toshihiro lingered for a minute longer, but left when he realized his dad had fallen asleep on the couch.

He went to bed and hoped that everything made sense in the morning.


Deku wasn’t back yet.

Katsuki sat with his knees up and his head pitched forward between them. He laced his fingers together on the back of his neck and concentrated on breathing.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

The news reported that the Hero Deku had retired for the night two hours ago, but the Alpha had yet to return to Katsuki in his bed.

He was coming back.

Deku had to be coming back.

Katsuki knew he had plenty of time before he needed the Alpha for his Heat. He had at least another twelve hours before his insides began to twist and felt the nauseous tug of fear and unbearable ache.

But his stomach hurt and his heart pounded too fast. The sweat poured down his back and he couldn’t tell if the panic was from knowing Dabi had been taken into custody and the knowledge that he was an Omega had to be making its rounds through the channels or the fact he flat out wanted Deku to be there.

His Alpha wouldn’t leave him alone for his Heat.

He could be furious with Katsuki and never leave him.

Deku had promised on All Might’s name that he’d never leave Katsuki alone for his Heat.

But the Alpha wasn’t there.

Five o’clock in the morning and he was still out.

“Fuck,” Katsuki said. He scrunched his face in pain as he moved, his limbs creaking and sore from staying in one position for an hour. He growled under his breath and dragged a sleep-shirt and his pajamas on as he crawled off the mattress and swayed on his feet. “I’ll find him myself.”

Katsuki held the wall as he stumbled down the hallway. He fought the dizziness as he reached the stairs and clung to the railing as he took one step at a time. Katsuki’s breath heaved as he reached the bottom and he inhaled his Alpha’s Scent.

His idiot mate had fallen asleep on the couch.

“Jerk,” Katsuki said. He held himself as he crossed the room and looked down at the sleeping Alpha, still dressed in his Hero uniform. He mumbled, “You’re supposed to come back to bed.”

Katsuki crawled onto the couch and passed out on Deku’s chest.

Everything else could wait.

Chapter Text

Izuku woke to the weight of an Omega on his chest.

The dawn had yet to arrive and the living room remained dark, save for the small blinking clock on the table that read the time as five o’clock. He put his hand in Kacchan’s hair and blinked awake so he could focus on the tired glare Kacchan had focused on his face. The bags under his eyes were deep and his hand had attached itself to Izuku’s uniform, clutching too tight. They were crammed on the couch and Izuku’s muscles felt sore from the uncomfortable position.

They were too old to squeeze together on the cushions all night.

Kacchan had to be in worse shape. His eyes struggled to stay open and he’d tucked himself into the smaller space between Izuku’s side and the couch back. His leg hooked around Izuku’s knee and he stayed too still.

“Why the fuck didn’t you come back to bed?”

“I’m sorry, Kacchan,” Izuku said. He turned on his side to give his mate more room and hugged him closer. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep on the couch, but I guess after fighting a monster, Pre-Heat sex, and taking down the League I was more tired than I thought.”

“And you couldn’t have made it upstairs first before you passed out?”

“I snapped at Toshihiro when I came home,” Izuku whispered. He petted Kacchan’s hair and pressed his face into it. “I wanted to calm down before I came upstairs. I really didn’t mean to fall asleep, I promise.”

“What is it with our kids and being up after midnight?” Kacchan asked. He relaxed and let go of Izuku’s uniform. “Don’t they know to sleep?”

“They got that from me,” Izuku said. Kacchan patted his side, indicating he knew that full well already. Growing up together, Kacchan knew all about Izuku’s late nights looking up Heroes and working on his notebooks. “But it would have been nice if at least one of them took after your habit of being asleep by nine instead.”

“I never get to be that lucky,” Kacchan said. He scooted up to drop his head on the armrest and Izuku rested his head on the Omega’s shoulder. “Kirishima called and said Dabi turned himself in.”

Izuku had expected the change in topic.

“You Marked him, didn’t you?” Kacchan sounded too quiet. “He turned himself in because of an Order.”

“It felt only fair.” Petty. Izuku rubbed his hand on Kacchan’s side. He remembered seeing Shigaraki’s Mark on Kacchan’s throat. It had cut through the haze of his wild state and seared itself in his memories. Marking Dabi had been petty revenge. “After what Shigaraki did to you.”

“That was years ago.”

As if that excused the Villain.

“Dabi would have never cooperated without an Order,” Izuku said. He “It saved everyone time and trouble.”

“What’d you do to Shigaraki?” Kacchan asked. “The news only showed him after the battle was finished.”

Izuku narrowed his eyes and squeezed the Omega closer. “Not as much as I wanted to do.”

Kacchan’s pleading stuck in his head and became his restraint.

There’d been no fight.

Only two hits of surprise after Izuku snuck into the back of the base using Dabi’s information. One hit for Kurogiri to take out the escape route and a second Detroit Smash to Shigaraki’s chest to knock him into the wall.

He’d broken two ribs and cracked the Villain’s head open, but he’d live.

Just like Izuku had promised Kacchan.

“He’s alive and has all his limbs in tact,” Izuku said. “He’s in police custody and I’m done with him.”

Kacchan didn’t reply and his breathing slowed enough Izuku almost believed he’d fallen asleep again.

“Are you still awake?”

“Barely,” Kacchan whispered. He wrapped his arms around Izuku’s shoulders and hugged him tighter. “I want details later when my head doesn’t feel like I’m crawling through sludge.”

“Of course, Kacchan,” Izuku said.

They held each other a few moments longer before Izuku checked the clock one more time. “I’m going to have the kids stay home from school today to talk about your retirement and what happened to Nori. Do you want to be there or go back to sleep?”

“I’ll listen, but I can’t promise I’ll stay awake.”

Izuku kissed his head. “Go back to sleep then and I’ll wake you up when we start.”

“Don’t go anywhere.”

“I wouldn’t want to.”


Their parents lied, as Youji had expected, and fed them the same sanitized story that he had read for himself online.

Their dad paused too much during the explanation and their old man avoided eye contact.

Both signs that there was much, much more information about the events between Katsuki Bakugou becoming Ground Zero and his retirement that the two refused to share with their children.

Youji bit his lip as he sat on the couch, sitting between Nori and Toshihiro like a living buffer.

After that, the honesty that came when they talked about Nori’s abduction had been a shock.

Their dad’s description of events matched up with Nori’s tale and Youji, though he’d been vague on why their old man was in personal contact with a Villain or how they'd managed to maintain a friendship without dad knowing.

“Sometimes when people are upset, they make rash choices,” their dad had said. The old man looked away and sunk into his chair. He didn’t look in the shape to argue anything the Alpha said with his Heat so obvious and his lolled head to the side. “Though this situation is more complicated than that. Your father and I are working on it, and we are going to do everything we can to stop this from ever happening again.”

Neither Youji nor his siblings had any comment when their dad finished speaking.

“If you want to talk about any of this later,” their dad said, “that’s alright. I know this is a lot to take in.”

Youji had no plans to do such a thing.

They wouldn’t answer the questions he wanted to ask with honesty, so what was the point?

“Can we go now?” Nori asked. He looked at their old man and huffed. “He looks ready to pass out.”

“Yes,” dad said. He got up from his seat and brushed his pants off. “Go on, but stay in the house. Skipping school is bad enough.”

Nori was the first to get up and glared at the floor as he stomped out of the living room. Youji followed and tapped up the stairs while Toshihiro stayed on the couch. He passed Nori’s room as his door slammed shut and went on to his own room.

He closed the door behind him and sat down at his desk.

Youji popped open his laptop and went to his email.

If his parents wouldn’t tell him what he wanted, he’d find someone who could.


Toshihiro was the last to go upstairs, leaving Deku and Katsuki alone in the living room once again.

Katsuki rested his arms on his knees and forced himself to stay awake. He had dozed once or twice during Deku’s talk and cursed himself for having his Heat at such a bad time.

“Do you want me to help you upstairs before I make a quick lunch?” Deku asked. He rubbed Katsuki’s shoulder and tugged him out of the chair when Katsuki nodded. “Come on. You need sleep or tonight’s going to be rough.”

“Or easier,” Katsuki said. He slumped on Deku and let the Alpha pick him up. Katsuki felt like a limp doll, but he didn’t care and crossed his arms on Deku’s head. “I’ll be too tired to want to get off more than once.”

Deku patted his back and took Katsuki back to bed. He dropped him off on the mattress and allowed Katsuki to sprawl out before he tugged off his Hero costume. He changed into a pair of shorts and one of his dumb t-shirts with a single word on the front.

“I’ll be right back.”

“If you’re not, I’ll find you,” Katsuki muttered. He rolled over and closed his eyes. “Hurry up.”

Deku ruffled his hair and tapped out of the room, shutting the door behind him. Katsuki shoved his face in the pillow on Deku’s side of the bed and breathed in the cedar that clung to the cover.

His door cracked open a few minutes later.

Katsuki glanced at the door and saw Toshihiro slip inside. The tiny Alpha walked next to the bed and bit his lip.

“Yes?”

“Can I stay with you?” Toshihiro asked, pressing his lips together. He clutched his sleeve and moved his hand up and down. “Like we used to?”

“Sure,” Katsuki said. He lifted an arm and turned on his side. “Come here, kiddo.”

His son hopped onto the bed and hugged Katsuki around the chest. Toshihiro squeezed him hard and Katsuki dropped his arm around his son.

“I’m sorry your friend was a jerk,” Toshihiro whispered.

Katsuki kissed Toshihiro’s head and petted his smooth hair down. “Me, too.”

They fell asleep cuddled together on the mattress, Katsuki only waking when Deku gently carried Toshihiro to his own room an hour before his Heat took over his senses.

Chapter Text

“Surprise!” Grandma shouted, busting into the doorway with her arms up. Her hair jumped around her shoulders as she bounced in the door with a light step and her wrinkles crinkled around her eyes as she smiled. Grandma put her hands on her hips and smiled wide like the old man. “Guess who came for a visit?”

Nori stayed on the couch and Youji didn’t bother to look up from his spot tucked in his brother’s side. He flipped a page in his book and yawned into the pages. Toshihiro folded his arms over the back of the couch and said, “Hello, Grandma.”

“You three are sure gloomy today,” Grandma said. She looked around the living room and wandered toward the kitchen. Nori counted down in his head for when she’d head right back out. She popped back into the living room as expected a few minutes later and asked, “Where’s your father?”

Toshihiro answered, “He’s asleep.”

Grandma scrunched her nose. “In the middle of the afternoon?”

“It’s Heat week,” Nori said, huffing. He picked up the remote and changed the channel, pausing on a cooking station. They hadn’t gone upstairs yet, hoping to avoid waking their father right after school. The Omega was too clingy during his Heat and Nori didn’t want to be smothered when he had too much on his mind already. “What else would he be doing but sleeping?”

“That’s not right. He’s two weeks out from that,” she said, half to herself. Grandma pulled out her phone and flipped through messages with narrowed brows. She crossed the room to the stairs and hopped up the first few steps. “I’m going to go check on him.”

Grandma stomped up the rest of the stairs with a scowl on her face.

Toshihiro plopped back onto the couch seat. “You think we should have stopped her? Father needs his sleep.”

Nori leaned back and thought of what the old man had said about him and his mom before everything went wrong.

Yelling and fighting.

He didn’t think he wanted to see them together right now when his head already felt too full.

“They’re fine,” Youji whispered, saving Nori’s skin from making a decision. He flipped a page in the book. “Watch the television and relax.”

Toshihiro huffed and settled back into the couch.

Nori elbowed Youji in a tiny move of thanks and the other snuggled closer.


“Hey, brat.”

Katsuki cracked an eye open and groaned, curling further into his mound of blankets. “Hag.”

“First you don’t text or call for close to two weeks and now I hear you forget to tell me it’s Heat week,” the hag said. She kicked the mattress and Katsuki dropped his face into the pillow. “What the hell happened?”

“Can we not do this?” Katsuki asked, mumbling into the pillow. His body was too warm and he felt like mush. He snuck a look at the clock and whined. Deku wouldn’t be home for at least another hour. “This week has already been hell.”

“My company is hell now?”

Katsuki rolled over and shoved the blankets over his head. His mother yanked them right back off and he almost shouted. He yanked it right back over his nakedness, but left it pooled at the waist with a red face. She snorted and crossed her arms and Katsuki sat up, forcing himself to pay attention.

“That’s not what I meant.”

“You always call me for Heat week,” she said. His mom sat on the side of the mattress next to him and continued glaring. “So I can avoid Inko’s brat since he’s always clingier than usual when you’re in Heat.”

“He’s not here now,” Katsuki said. For at least another—he looked at the clock again—fifty-five minutes. “Go back downstairs and hang out with the kids. I promise I will tell you about it later.”

“Tell me now.”

His stubborn Alpha of a mother sounded a hair away from an Order and Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Let’s just say the incident at the school festival was the least of my problems this past week.”

The old hag smacked him across the back of the head and Katsuki yelped.

“What was that for?” He asked, holding his head.

His mother tapped him in the forehead again for good measure. “Because I heard about that from Inko instead of you!”

“I’ve been busy!” he shouted back. Katsuki caught himself on the bed when he felt dizzy and took a steady breath. He shoved a pillow upright behind him to lean on. “Because like I said, that was the easy thing this week.”

“Then what was the worst?”

Shigaraki and Dabi taking Nori.

His heart had stopped. He was convinced he’d have to kill someone. Nori’d been terrified. Katsuki’d been terrified. The whole mess reminded him how out of shape he was.

That definitely topped the list.

But he wasn’t telling his mother any of that.

“The kids found out I was Ground Zero,” Katsuki said, staying once more with a true topic that could deflect further questioning. She’d be furious later he didn’t tell her about the other stuff but Katsuki did not care. He wanted Deku. He wanted his mother to leave so he could go back to sleep. “Guess how well that went.”

She winced and put her hand on the back of her neck. “Bad, but I am curious how they took it.”

“Toshihiro was crushed and thought it was unfair,” Katsuki said. His mother nodded to herself and he breathed out. “I wanted to tell him he was right, but that situation is a lot more complicated than a thirteen year old should know about.”

“Kid’s got good instincts,” his mother said. “You should give him more credit, but what about the other two?”

“Nori had his own issues this week with something else, so I don’t know how he feels. It either hasn’t sunk in or he doesn’t care,” Katsuki said. He covered his mouth. “Youji was angry, I know that much. He hasn’t said anything but he didn’t bother to hide the disgust on his face while we were talking.”

“He thinks it’s unfair too?”

Katsuki shook his head.

If he had to take a bet, he’d say he was angry about what happened to Nori and how it was Katsuki’s fault.

Or it could be any other number of things.

“It’s something else, but hell if I know what. That brat’s too smart,” Katsuki said, snorting. “He reads books like people eat popcorn and he got Deku’s analytical skills mixed with my genius. That kid’ll be terrifying if he ever puts that mind to work.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” his mom said. “Or at least nothing you couldn’t have called me about, if just to vent.”

“There were other things, too,” Katsuki said. He covered his mouth and answered when she asked for more details. “Deku and I had a fight.”

“Good,” she said, shoving his knee through the blanket. “What about?”

“That’s between us,” Katsuki said—which was the truth. “Don’t worry about it.”

“He doesn’t want you to get pregnant again or something stupid does he?” She asked. “I wouldn’t put it past him.”

“No,” Katsuki said, gritting his teeth. He loved his mom, but she always knew what things to say to make him the angriest. They were too alike. Katsuki huffed and put his hand on his stomach. “If he wanted that, he wouldn’t have helped me get on birth con—shit.”

“What?”

“I forgot to take my birth control,” Katsuki said. He covered his head and flopped on his side. He pulled his knees in and dug his heels into the mattress. “I was so upset when I started my Heat early I forgot all about it.”

“Can you take it now?”

Katsuki shook his head. “You take it during Pre-Heat. It’s too late once the Heat itself starts.”

His mother patted his thigh and huffed. “I wouldn’t worry too much. At your age, a Beta’s more fertile than you.”

“Very funny.”

She patted his thigh and got up, but she stopped halfway up. “Wait.”

“Hmm?”

“What happened with Nori?” She asked.

Katsuki rubbed against his head. “What?”

“You said something was bothering Nori bad enough that he didn’t care you used to be a Pro Hero,” his mother said, crossing her arms. “What could have been that bad?”

He bit his lip and cursed his fuzzy head. He leaned forward and held the back of his neck. Katsuki could avoid the truth but he couldn’t lie—she’d know in a heartbeat.

“Katsuki?” she asked. This mother put her hand on his head and lowered her voice. “What’s wrong?”


“When do you think grandma is coming back downstairs?” Toshihiro asked. He watched the stairs and tried to stop fidgeting on the couch. “Father needs his rest for—for later.”

“I’m glad we’re not Omega,” Nori said. He put his feet on the coffee table and slumped into the couch. “Heats are a total pain. It’s a good thing Beta don’t have them.”

“We sort of do,” Youji said, looking up from his book. Toshihiro looked around Nori at as he whispered. “There’s one week of the month we’re more fertile than normal so it’s easier to get um…you know.”

“Turned on and pregnant if you act on it,” Nori snorted. “I remembered, but it’s nothing like what the old man goes through every month.”

“Still good to think about and remember to be safe,” Youji said. “Or we went through those awkward talks with dad for nothing.”

Nori groaned and pushed Youji over, falling on him. “Don’t remind me. I don’t want to think about it for the rest of my life.”

Toshihiro snickered into his knees. He tended to get more talks than his siblings because he was an Alpha like dad, but Youji and Nori were the ones that could get pregnant now that they’d presented, so they had an extra long talk about safety and waiting until they were older (“Like after you’re thirty,” father had said) before they even thought about looking to…do those things.

His brothers had been red for weeks (and Toshihiro hadn’t been much better).

“He did what!”

All three siblings turned their head toward the stars when they heard the shout from upstairs.

“Was that grandma?” Toshihiro asked.

It sounded like her but she’d never raised her voice that loud before.

Nori sat up and bit his lip. “It sounded like her.”

“I’ll kill him!”

“Definitely grandma.”

Chapter Text

“I’ll kill him!” The hag shouted. Katsuki shoved his face into the pillow and groaned, ignoring the twist in his gut. She stomped across the room, pacing with fury in her eyes and teeth gritted. “All of them!”

Katsuki turned his head to watch the clock, reaching up to wipe a bead of sweat from his brow.

Forty minutes.

Deku would be home in forty minutes and then he’d fuck Katsuki until he was so exhausted he passed out again and didn’t have to think about anything.

Not his mother.

“I’m going to kill Shigaraki for daring to touch Nori.”

Not his kids.

“Then I’m going to kill Dabi for putting him in that position!”

Not a fucking thing.

“After that, that bratty mate of yours is getting a piece of my mind.” The hag’s Scent changed with her anger, growing more aggressive by the moment. Katsuki shoved his nose into Deku’s pillow and breathed in the cedar Scent to block out his mother’s. She crossed her arms and glared at the nightstand, staring down a picture of Deku and Katsuki that Kirishima took. “I can’t believe he Ordered you around like that.”

“Like you’ve never Ordered dad when you were mad.”

The hag heard his mumble and turned on her heel. “It is not the same!”

It was.

But he wasn’t going to argue it.

Katsuki grabbed his blankets and shoved his face in the pillow. Thirty-five minutes until Deku came home. He groaned and pulled the blankets tighter around his shoulder. “Please, can you not pull this Alpha shit right now? Go away.”

The hag made it halfway through “Don’t you snap at me” before she shut her mouth and looked at her son again.

He knew he looked like a pathetic mess, hiding naked under the covers and sweating into the sheets. Katsuki stared his mother down while his cheek remained smashed into the pillow and she relented.

“I’m sorry, baby. I know you’re not feeling well right now,” his mother said. Her anger turned the heat down to a simmer and she walked over. She petted Katsuki’s head before she kissed it and tucked the blankets in closer. “We’ll talk about this when your Heat is over.”

Katsuki grunted into the pillow case.

His mother left, closing the door gently behind her.

Thirty minutes.


Youji slipped upstairs with his siblings after their grandmother left and dad came home. He opened his email and glared at the unhelpful response from their old man’s old friends, refusing to give more information.

Red Riot clearly knew something but wouldn’t budge from his opinion the subject was best left alone. Chargebolt seemed to have no idea what Youji was talking about. His mate, Kyouka, shared an opinion with Red Riot. Pinky and the other heroes their old man would have gone to school with also seemed just as in the dark.

They only knew the story on the news and scolded him for trying to dig into the old man’s hero career.

“Well that dead end went nowhere,” Youji said. He crossed his arm on the the desk and mentally prepared himself for the worst case scenario in which one of those people contacted dad to tell them that Youji was digging. He closed his email and pushed away from the desk. “I should have seen that coming.”

Youji huffed into his arms and got up, grabbing a book off his shelf. He pushed his pillows into place on his bed, settling into a fake fort before he popped the book open. As soon as he was comfortable, the door creaked open on cue.

“Hey,” Nori said. He wandered inside, dragging a blanket behind him. He crawled onto the otherwise of the bed, pausing to put his hand against a pillow to keep it from falling over, and crawled into the other corner. “What’re you reading this time?”

“A history of Alpha, Omega, and Beta relations,” Youji whispered. He’d borrowed the book from the library on a whim. “It’s an introductory text, so it’s not very in-depth.”

Nori pulled a handheld game console from his pocket and cuddled into his blankets. “You are the only person I know who reads text books for fun.”

Youji snorted and flipped a page. “I wouldn’t call it fun, but reading educational texts helps me relax.”

“Sure.”

The tinny sounds of Nori’s video game filled the bedroom along with the click of the buttons. Youji peeked out from behind one of his pillows and watched Nori. His brother scowled at the screen and spoke over the noise. Nori caught his gaze and frowned. “Yes, something’s bothering me, but no I don’t want to talk about it yet.”

“Okay,” Youji said. He disappeared back into his pillows and settled in. “But you will tell me, later, right?”

“If I remember.”

He swallowed and scooted over so that he leaned on the other side of the pillow. Youji felt the pressure through the thick fabric and cushioning, resting his head on the pillowcase.

Youji turned a page and listened to his brother’s game while he read.


Toshihiro watched Nori slip out of his own room and sneak into Youji’s from the crack in his own door.

He knew that Nori and Youji were closer with each other than they were with himself, but it still made his chest hurt to be left out.

They were triplets.

The brotherly bond should have been between all three of them. Did being a different Class from his brothers matter so much? Or at least shouldn’t they be older before it mattered?

It shouldn’t.

Toshihiro held his hand up to tap on Youji’s door to join them, but he stopped. If they wanted him to be there, they would have asked. Toshihiro put his hand over his chest and looked at his parents’ closed door. Toshihiro wandered over and leaned his ear close to the door.

He covered his mouth to smother the gasp as he realized that they were definitely not finished with the day’s Heat yet for the night.

Toshihiro scrambled away from the door and went down the stairs into the dark living room. He stumbled into the kitchen, shaking his head to get rid of his imagination filling in the gaps from what he’d heard and got a half glass of water. He drank it all in one gulp and set the empty cup on the counter.

He sat on the couch and turned on the television. A Hero was fighting a Villain downtown on the news and he exhaled, sinking into the cushions. He turned the volume down until the television was on mute.

Toshihiro watched the moving footage in quiet and fell asleep on the couch.

He’d talk to his brothers in the morning.