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SPLATTT!!

He and his friends (Followers? Classmates?) were on their way out, stopping just in front of the school building to discuss afternoon plans. Three bored students with nothing to do. He should consider joining a club or something this year. Looks good on paper; schools eat that shit up.

It was about that time, with little nothing thoughts going through each of their minds, when an unidentified falling object collided with the ground at their feet.

It landed with a loud unfamiliar splatter, and Katsuki felt something wet hit his face with just enough force to make him flinch.

One of his friends fell over. Both screamed, first in shock, then in terror.

Nothing left his own mouth, however.

“N-no way,” muttered Thing 1, “Is that…Midoriya!?”

No. It couldn’t be.

That didn’t make any sense…


 

“I thought you at least had some fight in you.”

“He finally gets it; he’ll never be a hero.”

“Better to find out now than later, I guess.”

“You know,” he’d started, wanting to take one last jab before leaving the classroom, “if you really wanna be a hero that badly, there might actually be another way.”

No, it wasn’t really a jab, more of a stab.

“Just pray that you’ll be a hero in your next life, and take a swan dive off the roof of the building!”

A stab with a salted knife right in his wounded pride, given a twist for good measure.

“Something wrong?” He asked, the question laced with intimidation, as a few sparks lit up in his palm.


 

It was only for a moment, before he shut that shit down, but that useless nerd had the gall to look his way with the indignant gaze of a person ready to fight back.

Ready to fight…to fight.

So then why?

“A…a teacher! We gotta get a teacher!” Thing 2 squeaked from the ground.

“A teacher? We need an ambulance!” Thing 1 stated, removing his cellphone from his pocket.

“I dunno! Just—call someone! Anyone!” The other scrambled back into the school building, calling for their homeroom teacher. Probably the first name he could muster off the top of his head.

“Y-yeah! I’d like to report a—there’s been a—W-we’re at Aldera Middle School! P-Please! Send an ambulance! He’s really hurt! I-I don’t know if he’s—,”

It was only when his classmate started shaking his shoulder that he’d realized he’d been staring, unblinking, at what could only be a cor—

“Hey! Katsuki! Snap out of it!” The other boy pleaded, “H-hey, are you—?” Katsuki had no clue what expression he was making, but it caused the question to die on his friend’s lips.

Or maybe it had nothing to do with his face, but what was on it. They’d been so preoccupied with the…body…none of them had noticed the blood that splashed his face, the same blood that stained their shoes, and maybe the pant legs of their uniforms.

The next few hours were a blur of sounds and lights. The ambulance came and went with Midoriya…what was left of him. He remembered someone cleaning the blood from his face in a manner far too gentle to be comforting. Some police cars arrived to secure the scene. The sirens were too loud, lamps too bright. Katsuki felt a foreign sickness filling him, all the sights and sounds giving him a migraine.

He and his friends were brought to the police station. Things 1 and 2 frantically explained what happened the best that they could, still in a panic despite having some time to process the event. Had he been any better? Katsuki couldn’t recall a single question he was asked, let alone remember if he responded.

When his parents picked him up from the station, they weren’t as upset as he thought they’d be. The cops must’ve reassured them that Katsuki hadn’t killed anyone…

…He hadn’t.

 

He didn’t remember the ride from the school to the station, nor from the station to home. It was as if he were teleported from one location to the next, his brain so full of nothing that he could only recognize the points for the lines.

Within the familiarity of his home, things started to clear up. The blur of the world slowed, objects and faces becoming clear. His dad convinced him to eat dinner. He couldn’t stomach much, having lost his appetite. His mom didn’t nag him when he failed to finish his plate, nor chase him up the stairs when he fled to his room.

The boy didn’t bother turning on the light, instead reveling in the dark silence of his bedroom. Muscle-memory brought him to his bed without stumbling, and he collapsed into the security of his well-acquainted mattress.

He flipped onto his back. Placing an arm over his closed eyes, he laid there, tired and unable to rest. His sense of time dwindled to nothing, minutes or hours passing without meaning.

Katsuki sensed his mind catching up to his body after all this time. He would’ve run from it if he could, because now…he couldn’t stop himself from thinking.

Gears creaked back to life inside his skull, mulling over his day from morning to night without prompting.

They had all been standing so close, none closer than Katsuki. Deku had fallen at his feet, not a foot of space between them. He’d felt the air rush as the body displaced it in its motion, pulled indiscriminately downward by gravity, the unwitting accomplice.

The nerd nearly landed on him; would’ve been poetic. Then again, the attempt itself likely would’ve been flubbed if he had: they’d both be in the hospital, and then Katsuki would promptly beat the shit out of him when they next crossed paths.

But it hadn’t failed. He met the ground with utmost efficiency.

It wasn’t a question he’d been looking to answer: What happens when a body hits the concrete? He hadn’t imagined what it’d look like.

What it’d sound like…

SPLATTT!!

He breathed harshly through his nose as his stomach suddenly heaved, sending bile up his throat.

But he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

He thought there’d be more of a “CRACK!” the sound of a skull busting open from the impact.

He gasped, stomach lurching again. Okay, no more toughing it out. All it was going to earn him was a mess to clean off his bedroom floor.

Listening again (and again, and again,) he realized he could hear the “crack!” of every bone in the boy’s body breaking all at once.

Though, it was more like a CRUNCH…

And now he was stumbling into the bathroom to rightfully puke his guts out.

The image kept playing over and over in his head.

Red. Green. Like fucking Christmas.

He could still feel the blood that splattered on his face; the memory sending another wave of vomit out his mouth and to the toilet.

Fuck, the blood splashed on his shoes too. There was no point in trying to clean them. He wanted them trashed. He wanted them burned.

Standing at the sink, he rinsed his mouth, trying to remove the taste of bile and relieve the burn it left behind. He splashed some water on his face to clean up, to relax…

He flinched…Blood. His breath stuttered. There was blood on his face. His stomach churned, threatening him if he didn’t fix the problem quickly. Katsuki wiped his face, trying to dry it, clean it, but he still felt it there.

He rubbed his face raw, nothing removing the sensation of the blood sticking to his skin. Now it stung. The pain followed a line that started near his brow, crossed the bridge of his nose, and ended under the opposite eye. It was as if the blood splatter had sliced open his skin, seeping in and mixing with his own. No, was it inside of him now!?

The thought only made things worse. He was in three parts, hyperventilating, screaming, sobbing, until his parents finally came in asking why the fuck he was making such a racket in the middle of the night.

He wasn’t all there, but he could vaguely recall his father managing to pull his hands away from his face to stop him from doing any more damage. The rest, like the day, was a blur of concern, calming words, and unwanted comfort. He’d been inconsolable, but they got him back to bed where exhaustion took over, pulling him into a thankfully dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Katsuki woke up the next day, drowsy with no perception of time. It was a handful of moments before the boy noticed that he didn’t wake to his alarm, a sign meaning he was early or late. From the far too bright sunlight shining in his room, it was the latter.

He shot up, head spinning from sitting up too quickly, but ignored the vertigo. Shutting his eyes in frustration, Katsuki stood from his bed.

“WHAT THE HELL!?” He shouted. What time was it??? Why wasn’t his mom in his room, yelling at him to wake the fuck up?? She’d never let him sleep in! Hell, he never slept in on a school day! Can’t have that shit on his record!

Hearing no response from his apparently inattentive parents, Katsuki rushed to the bathroom to get ready for however much of the day he had left. He brushed his teeth, maybe with a bit more effort than usual to scrape away remnants of last night’s sickness.

Katsuki glared in the mirror. He’d jumped at first, believing that the damn blood was still there when he was met with an angry red streak across his face. It wasn’t. He wasn’t hallucinating, nor had he quite been last night, he realized. When he was freaking out over nothing, Katsuki managed to scratch himself, trying to remove what wasn’t there. He hadn’t imagined the pain, but he had caused it.

There were some shallower scratches, and his face still ached from whatever he’d done last night. The worst offender was front and center, a deep red mark perfectly mimicking the very blood he’d fought to remove.

It was no small scratch. He should trim his nails later.

* * *

“You’re awake,” Mitsuki stated too calmly as her son stomped down the stairs.

“Yeah, no shit!” Normally, when he wakes up in the late afternoon, shouting, she screeches right back at him. Something was up. “Why didn’t you wake me up!? I missed school!”

His mother scoffed, “Yeah, ‘cause I was gonna send you back there after yesterday!” They really were on the same level when it came to delicately addressing a situation. She said what she meant, and meant what she said, “Did you shower? We’re going out.”

“Out? The hell are we going?”

Not counseling, not counseling, not counseling…

“The hospital.”

why couldn’t it have just been counseling? Well, he knew his mom’s views on it, “As if he needs to feel any better about himself.” If nothing else, they were on the same page about it being pointless.

But what was at the hospital? And why did he have to come along?

“Inko gave me a call, so we’re meeting her over there.”

And why did he have to come along??? He pondered in vain as he entered the car. More importantly, why wasn’t he asking this question out loud? Oh right, because Katsuki Bakugo is not an idiot. He fucking knows why.

The incident yesterday, that migraine-inducing ambulance, Ms. Midoriya’s phone call…if this was about anything but the nerd’s current condition, he’d eat his shoe.

…Deku wasn’t D.O.A? He hadn’t been told that yet, but what else was he supposed to think, knowing that they were heading to the hospital and not a morgue?

His body tensed as the images resurfaced. Katsuki shook them away, but the sounds remained…

* * *

The two waited, impatiently, in the hospital’s ante room. Katsuki kept fidgeting, thinking too hard about nothing at all as the emptiness from yesterday lingered. He didn’t like the incoherency, but appreciated that it could chase away the noise

His mother slapped his hand away from his face. “Don’t pick at it!” He’d been caught mindlessly scraping at his freshly-scabbed scratch.

Katsuki spat back with, “Keep your hands to yourself!” but didn’t bring his hand to his face again for a while.

Ms. Midoriya finally approached them some mind-numbing minutes later. The mother may have had the night to process yesterday’s events, but remained a mess of tears and hiccups. “I-I just…don’t understand! H-how? Why! Why did this happen to my precious Izuku!”

His own mother failed to reply, unable to offer any words of comfort and unsure how to be supportive short of arriving when she was called and listening to her friend ask questions to which she had no answer.

“He was fine when he left for school yesterday, Mitsuki! It was like any other day…he didn’t seem off or sad or anything like that! He was fine…but they say that he…my Izuku, he really…” She choked on the words, “It’s my fault! It’s all my fault! If I’d just been able to tell! If I’d known something was wrong—! If I’d paid more attention, I—,”

“Hey, hey!” Mitsuki held the crying woman by her shoulders, “This is not your fault! Hell, it might’ve been accident! Like you said, he was fine when he left that morning, and he’s not the type to act out so spontaneously.” Katsuki swore she side-eyed him for a moment, “We don’t know what happened, so that’s enough about who’s fault goes where! Now,” the blonde implored, redirecting the conversation a quarter-inch to the left, “Did the doctors say anything? How is he?”

It was a question asked with caution. The answer couldn’t be good, but it had to be something, or they wouldn’t be here.

Inko Midoriya led the two to the room where her son was staying. Izuku was lying in the hospital bed, still unconscious. “He’s alive...the doctors swear they’ve done everything they can for now, but…” she inhaled, chest tight with emotion, “…they don’t know when he’ll wake up…if he’ll ever wake up.” And she was sobbing again.

Mitsuki frowned. She placed an arm around her friend and spoke as softly as her voice allowed, “Come on. You haven’t eaten today, have you? You were here all night.” She maneuvered the weeping woman toward the door, away from the sorry sight, “Let me buy you something. We can check out the cafeteria, see if they have anything half-decent.”

Ms. Midoriya allowed herself to be lead out of the room as Mitsuki fawned over her the only ways she knew how. Katsuki knew his mother couldn’t handle tears much better than he could; this was probably taking a lot of effort and patience on her part.

Left alone in the room, with the body, Katsuki stared. Why bother coming at all? There was nothing they could do. Hell, his mom could barely offer words more comforting than, “I’ll buy you lunch,” after nearly yelling in the crying woman’s face. There was no point in coming here today, no point at all.

Waiting a few seconds longer to be sure that the nerd wouldn’t wake up and start making conversation, Katsuki took a seat near the bedside. He gave his comatose classmate a onceover.

Neck brace. Figures. His head was wrapped in a bandage, too. Katsuki was sure they had to operate on his brain, stop the swelling, and hopefully save whatever hadn’t painted the pavement and his shoes.

The part that was freaking him out (just a little), was the breathing machine. He couldn’t breathe on his own. Even if he regained consciousness, what condition would he be in?

If.

He nearly scoffed aloud. The nerd wasn’t waking up from this. Was he the only one that understood that? He was already dead, just waiting it out. “An accident.” Katsuki wanted to laugh at his mother’s words of comfort, but they only made him angry.

Deku jumped. He did. And he did it because he was weak. He finally realized that his petty hope for the future was built on fragile, childish dreams. With one push, his little sheltering fantasy crumbled all around him under the brutal weight of reality, and he couldn’t take it.

But that vindictive asshole…Katsuki wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he landed in front of him on purpose.

“Why now, huh? Never listened to me before.” Growing up, he’d told the smaller boy again and again to piss off, and it took years to stick. “You suddenly want to take my advice? Didn’t have the guts to try it on your own time?” If he always felt this way, he could’ve done it at any time, but instead, he waited for “Kacchan” to give the word. Because he didn’t have the initiative. Because he didn’t the strength of mind to decide for himself!

…No. No, that wasn’t it. “You wanted me to see.” He’d had very few cards, a real shit hand, but this? He waited for this. He put off every deadly impulse and bided his time, knowing there would be a moment, something he could take advantage of, and use one of the only moves he had in his arsenal to inflict the most damage. He saved the play for the time it would have the greatest impact: a calculated, intentional move. “You want me to think this is my fault.”

Deku hated him for destroying his little made-up world. Couldn’t face reality and took it out on him.

Katsuki gazed at the state the boy was left in after his last act of rebellion against him and the unrelenting world they lived in, “Was it worth it?”

The boy’s mother would be left in a useless hopeful state until he croaked completely, which wouldn’t be until he was taken off life support.

“Couldn’t even die right, useless Deku,” Katsuki muttered, throat tight with an unidentified emotion. “Can’t you do anything right?!”

“. . . !

“Huh?” He looked up, staring at the obviously still comatose boy in the hospital bed for a moment, before standing up from his seat. He turned around, seeing the door to the hall remained closed. “The hell—?” The blonde asked apparently no one. He was sure he heard something just now.

A spasm shook his body, mostly his shoulders and back. On reflex, Katsuki wrapped his arms around himself, letting the shiver pass. It was always too damn cold in these hospitals.

The sensation persisted, reaching his insides, making him nauseous. The chill finally settled on his skin, sweating despite it, as if he’d broken a fever.

Katsuki panted, still queasy from the sudden onslaught. It was a different feeling from last night’s sickness, though not that different…

The two mothers returned around this time, ending a conversation that no doubt started in the café. Ms. Midoriya looked no less melancholy than when she left, and his mother was forcing a smile just the same. They both seemed to notice his sorry state when they entered, Mitsuki approaching him with quick steps.

“You feeling okay, Katsuki?” She felt his forehead, making a concerning face, “Guess it’s true what they say about hospitals.” Mitsuki turned to her friend with a heavy sigh, “Inko. I’m gonna take the kid home.” Oh, so he was her out? He wouldn’t be surprised if that was why she insisted he come along. She clasped Ms. Midoriya’s hand in her own, “You call if you need anything, understand?”

Inko nodded weakly, removing her hand from Mitsuki’s. The women said their goodbyes and Ms. Midoriya returned to her seat at her son’s bedside. The image of the room in that moment burned into Katsuki’s brain.

* * *

The ride home was unpleasant. His mother didn’t say much, and that was the only good thing about it. Katsuki swore he picked up something at that hospital. He hadn’t suffered from such a bad fever since…ever! He remembered his mom saying something like, “Idiots can’t catch colds,” and how it would infuriate him whenever Deku got sick, as if that meant he was smarter than him!

…He’d gotten so mad about that as a kid. It was so stupid…

“Katsuki.”

Any time his mother failed to say his name with an angry shout, icy fear would trace his spine.

“I know you probably don’t want to talk about yesterday…least of all with me,” she stated with a sigh, “But I thought, after last night, you might feel better after seeing him.”

…Feel better? Feel…better? Staying in the same room as that suicidal nerd had made him physically ill!

Stupid, worthless Deku! Too weak to live…too dumb to even die correctly! What, learning that he hadn’t died in front of him was supposed to make him feel better?

“…you’re right about one thing.” His mother raised a brow; she was listening. He sent her a sharp glare and spoke with an equally sharp tongue, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Humph!” She scoffed, pulling the car up to their driveway, “Well don’t you bounce back quickly! See if I ever show you any concern in the future!”

“Good! Don’t bother!” Katsuki could feel his heartbeat slowing, easing at the familiarity of a shouting match. They would yell empty words at each other until they entered the house, where his father would greet them and hope to resolve the spat peacefully.

Chapter Text

He was back home, walking through the front door with his mother. “What an ungrateful son I have!” Mitsuki suddenly spouted.

“The hell are you on abou—,”

“I covered your ass and I don’t get a single word of gratitude? Well, that’s my Katsuki: my clueless, ungrateful, vile son.”

…what?

“What the hell? When did you cover for me?” And where were these words coming from? His mother was never one to hold back, always displeased with him about something. His “attitude” or whatever, as if she was any better. Yet, this was…

“Ha!” The sound stabbed into Katsuki’s heart, mocking and cruel, “Like I said! Clueless! ‘Enough about whose fault goes where.’ Sound familiar?”

Sure, it did. She’d said the same thing at the hospital.

“You think I don’t know that you had everything to do with Izuku’s suicide?”

…Huh?

“You don’t have to play dumb, Katsuki. A mother knows her son. Did you tell him to jump? Did you see him on the roof, Katsuki? Did you goad him into it, shouting from below to put on a good show for you and your friends?”

What the hell was going on? Wasn’t she the one who said that it was most likely an accident? But what, that was just to cover for him, because she was so sure it was his fault?

“I didn’t—!” Before he could deny it any further, he was interrupted by a smaller, sadder voice.

“Katsuki…” In an instant, he was back in the hospital waiting room. He turned around to see Ms. Midoriya. “Is it true? What you said to my Izuku?”

“I—,” His throat shut, strangling his voice and locking it inside.

“Answer me!” The grieving woman grabbed his shirt, her eyes full of frustrated tears, “Is it true, Katsuki!? Did you tell my boy to jump off that roof?”

He couldn’t respond if he wanted to! His voice picked a hell of a time to fail him.

“Like I was saying,” his own mother chimed in with a wave, “I’m done covering for you.”

“Tell me the truth!”

“Can you worm your way out on your own?”

“What have you done to my Izuku?!”

“Well, Katsuki?”

“Katsuki!”

“Kacchan.”

A gasp ripped free from his throat. The world blurred as he turned his head and found himself standing in Izuku’s hospital room.

Unlike during the visit, the boy was sitting up, conscious, and breathing quite easily. His face held an easy, knowing smile and he spoke too softly. “It’s okay. It’s not true. Kacchan never told me to jump.” The smile only grew softer as he stated, “You told me to dive, right, Kacchan?”

Was he…being cheeky? At a time like this!?

Izuku shook his head, his smile turning apologetic. “Sorry, I tried. I really am good for nothing, huh? I guess the human body is more resilient than I thought.” He stated, noting it as a simple miscalculation, “Even a quirkless kid like me can survive a fall like that? I should mark this down in my notebook!” He rambled giddily before calming at the thought of his research notes, “Oh…right. You…threw it out. Well, that’s okay. It wouldn’t have been much help anyway, right?”

Izuku climbed out of his bed, startling Katsuki. He stood frightening close to the room’s window pane, “Hey! It’s not the roof, but this floor is higher than the school, wouldn’t you say?” He inquired, taking in whatever scenery he could from the vantage point.

…What?

Izuku opened the window, looking down and breathing in the breeze. “Yeah! Look at the courtyard down there! I didn’t realize we were so high up!”

…Stop it.

“You know? I think I can really do it this time! Yeah, this should be high enough!” He climbed into the window frame as he spoke, grinning all the while.

“Hey!!”

“If not, well…I can still try my best, can’t I?” He leaned out of the window frame, that damn smile never leaving his face.

“DEKU!!” Katsuki dove at him, hands grasping air. He looked down. From this height, one result was certain. A single cruel reality awaited him.

SPLAT!!


 

Katsuki couldn’t remember opening his eyes.

Everything felt gross. His bed felt gross. His pajamas felt gross. HE felt gross. He had never hated the feeling of his own skin before, but if he wasn’t in the shower in the next ten seconds, he was going to light himself on fire.

Considering the amount of sweat he was soaked in, it may not even be on purpose.

He’d woken up well enough to go to school, refusing to stay put. Short of an exceptionally wicked dream, he was fine, just fine. Not that any of that mattered. He was not about to have his chances of getting into the best hero school in the nation squandered by the death of a loser!

Katsuki didn’t have it in him to look his mother in the face that morning, dodging eye contact and petulantly turning away at every opportunity. He did this for as great a length of the morning he could manage before his mother got pissed, “Enough with this silent treatment bullshit! If you’re still angry about yesterday or something, just complain about it loudly like you usually do!”

And so he did.

* * *

Katsuki Bakugo slammed the classroom door open.

The entire class fell silent at his presence, every pair of eyes on him. Word travels fast.

WHAT?” he barked. Everyone looked away, either at one another or just…away. He huffed, taking his seat in silence.

The whispers started up again. Think they’re slick huh?

“Can’t believe he actually came to school…”

“Yeah, it was totally his fault that Midoriya—,”

“I heard that he told him to do it!”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw him off the roof himself.”

His friends were noticeably absent.

“Katsuki? You’re here,” the teacher noted. Was someone ever going to explain to him why it was so damn strange for him to come to school? “They want you at the Guidance Office.”

UGH. It wasn’t as if he got sent there often, that would imply that a single teacher at this forsaken middle school dared to address his behavior. The question of “why” threatened to jump off the tip of his tongue, but Katsuki quickly decided he’d rather be anywhere but here.

Even counseling.

* * *

“Bakugo, glad you could make it.”

Well, Katsuki sure wasn’t.

The guidance counselor let him in, but she clearly wasn’t intending to sit and speak with him. No, there was a man waiting in the office to do just that. Katsuki’d be damned if he didn’t know an interrogation when he saw one. Maybe he just wanted to get a proper witness statement from him, considering his condition the day of the…incident.

Why couldn’t it ever be counseling?

“This is Detective Tsukauchi. He’s here to ask you a few questions.”

Yeah, right. He’s probably talked his classmates already, formed an opinion, and has been chomping at the bit to meet him. Katsuki could only imagine the picture the others had painted.

The counselor shut the door, leaving the detective to his work. “Katsuki Bakugo. You were one of the students present when Izuku Midoriya…fell.”

Jumped. Just say it. He jumped.

“It’s my understanding that you and Midoriya have known each other for quite a long time,” he stated with a tap of his pen. “How many years would you say?”

Too many.

“…over ten years.”

“So you two grew up together, then? Were you close?”

Close? Close? No way! They were miles…worlds apart! Someone like Deku could never exist in the same world as him!

…as proven.

“…Not really.”

“Oh, I see.” Katsuki wasn’t sure what to make of that response. “Hm, did Midoriya have friends here at school? Or any outside of school that you know of?”

Biting back another comment about that friendless loser, Katsuki responded simply. “No one that I know.”

“In or out of school?”

He shrugged, “Neither.” None in class, that’s for sure. He had nothing. He was nothing.

“What about hobbies? Did he take part in club activities or anything like that?”

Katsuki felt his face twitch as he thought of stupid notebook. “…Heroes, I guess.”

“Heroes?” The detective repeated, begging for clarification.

The boy fought off an aggravated sigh, “Researching them.” Stalker. “He’d pile everything his nerd brain collected into notebooks.” Ah, was that too much…? His irritation let something unsavory slip past his teeth.

If the detective thought anything about the comment, he didn’t let it show. “Midoriya had a lot of interest in becoming a hero, is that right? He even wanted to attend UA, despite being Quirkless. You too, right? Those are high aspirations you shared.”

Yeah. Too high. Maybe if Izuku hadn’t dreamed above his allowance, things wouldn’t have come crashing down the way they did. What right did he believe he had to share the same dream as Katsuki?

“You two were in the same class. How did he seem that day? Anything out of the ordinary?”

“…No.” It really wasn’t. Even if having the entire class burst into laughter was over the top, it wasn’t unusual.

“Hm.” The detective hummed knowingly, “There was a burn—,”

oh fuck.

“—on the right shoulder of Midoriya’s uniform jacket.” The detective leaned in, the movement near-imperceptible if Kastuki didn’t already feel like the walls were closing in on him. “The burn wasn’t there when he went out that morning, but happened by the time he fell, meaning it most likely occurred during the school day.”

The detective likely knew his quirk; even if he didn’t, he could easily find out. He’d probably already linked Katsuki to the damage: physical evidence of an altercation. Even if he hadn’t burned the skin, he had, by all technicalities, assaulted him, and then the act was immediately punctuated with the victim’s suicide. If the man sitting across from him hadn’t connected the dots already, he didn’t deserve his badge.

On second thought, maybe he should have said something: a lie, a surprised statement…but it wasn’t a question, so Katsuki kept his mouth shut.

This was apparently the correct response, as the detective shifted the focus away that detail, though not as far as Katsuki would have liked, “From what I’ve gathered, you were one of the last people to see Midoriya in class that day. Is that correct?”

“You think I don’t know…”

Katsuki froze, but quickly forced his body to relax. “Yeah…” he answered slowly.

“How did he appear then? After class?”

“You don’t have to play dumb.”

“Fine. He was fine.” Deku had been the way he had every other day: a powerless, obnoxiously-hopeful nuisance. “Just like any other day.”

“Did you have a chance to speak with him?”

“Did you tell him to jump?”

Katsuki caught his breath before it could deepen. He forced an even tempo, trying his best to fend off stress. “Yeah. We talked. Seemed fine.” His answers were getting too short.

“Hm.” The detective’s patience made the student uneasy. He was picking up on all his tells, and it only served to make Katsuki more nervous, “Can you think of any reason he may have…been on the roof before he fell?”

“Can you worm your way out on your own?”

“I—,” Shut up! Don’t say another fucking word or you can kiss UA goodbye, along with any dreams of becoming a hero! “—don’t have a clue. What do I look like? His keeper?” Truly the words of an innocent person.

It wasn’t entirely untrue. He wasn’t sure why the nerd jumped; why that day of all days was the one to break the Quirkless camel’s back.

The officer nodded. Katsuki had to be more careful with his words.

“You and your friends were already outside before he fell.” It took more self-control than Katsuki knew he had to keep from flinching at the simple statement, “Did you see him on the roof?”

“Did you see him on the roof, Katsuki?”

“Was he alone?”

“Did you goad him into it?”

“Did you say anything to him?”

“Shouting from below to put on a good show for you and your friends?”

“I DIDN’T!” He shouted, suddenly standing.

A silent beat passed, and Katsuki could tell he had spoken too loudly. In fact, he was positive he startled some of the teachers outside the office. The student sat back down, scraping together what little composure he had left. “I…didn’t see him on the roof. I dunno if he was alone or not. We had just stepped outside and the next thing I know, he’s hitting the ground!” The frustrated, frantic word vomit poured out and he was just glad he didn’t say anything incriminating.

The detective nodded simply. He didn’t even react when Katsuki had jumped to his feet or when he yelled. He’d taken every statement and reaction in stride. The boy considered the day of the incident and realized…the man had been expecting something like this.

Of course. The man was speaking to a young witness of an objectively gruesome event. Every outburst, every stutter, every skittish response was just a pre-packaged deal to a detective. None of his actions would likely register as suspicious, since he was, after all, a middle-schooler that had witnessed the death of a classmate.

Idiot. Freaking out over nothing. Of course, there was no reason to be suspicious. Katsuki hadn’t done anything…No. The burn on Deku’s uniform. That was something. The detective stopped short of questioning him about it and moved onto asking about the last he saw of Deku that day…alive. Was he being suspected of something or not? Why not question him about it?

“That scratch,” the detective muttered, snapping Katsuki out of his thoughts and changing the subject completely, “Do you mind if I ask how you got it? Looks like it hurt.”

Scratch…? Oh, from that night. “…Happened overnight.” He definitely got it in the middle of the night, albeit, certainly not while sleeping.

“In your sleep?” He asked. Katsuki didn’t clarify, and the man didn’t pry any further, “I see. It’s a pretty deep scratch…”

The detective (what was his name?) smiled, and the tense atmosphere successfully disappeared. “I’d say that’s all. Thank you for your help, and sorry for taking you out of class like this. Here,” the man removed a card from his coat pocket, passing it Katsuki’s way, “If you think of anything else, you can contact me.”

The student took the card without a word, nodded, and got the fuck out of that office.

* * *

Katsuki Bakugo stared at the classroom door, still digesting the last several minutes of conversation. Interrogation.

He somehow made it through the interview unscathed…though it may have opened a few existing wounds.

No, not just that. Everyone in the room before him, the whispers, the rumor mill already up and running. Talking about the incident like it was his fault. As if he’d pushed the boy himself!

“Dammit!” He was on the ground floor by the time anything had happened! Idiots didn’t know what they were talking about. Throwing around accusations when they barely had any information…

They blamed him, of course they did! Like it was all him, like they had any pity to spare Deku when he knocked him to the ground. Like the teacher so much as reprimanded him when he had another student scared and backed against the wall!

They threw him under the bus in a heartbeat: he’s the one who told him to take the dive.

His mother’s voice rang in his ears, “I’m done covering for you.”

Hmph! Whatever. He didn’t need anyone to cover for him.

…He hadn’t done anything.

His friends were still out of school. He insisted on coming back to avoid any more absences on his record than necessary. The regret was all his.

Katsuki, leaving his classroom behind, stopped by the nurse’s office, mumbled that he “wasn’t feeling well,” and left before anyone could talk more shit behind his back.

He walked round the side of the school building, just in case an administrator insisted on following him. The pattern-forming part of his brain subconsciously counted the windows and his footsteps, causing the boy to slow to a stop when he neared his classroom.

To his right was the koi pond. With its positioning, it only received sunlight around the noon hours and fell back into the shade by the end of the school day.

His classroom window was directly above it. When he threw out Deku’s notebook, he knew where it would land. Katsuki would scoff at the thought of that nerd getting his sleeves wet trying to fish out his worthless dreams from the pond.

But that didn’t happen.

The blonde gazed into the water, grumbling that whoever’s job it was to keep it clean was doing a shit job. The notebook was still in there, and had been for two days. It sunk to the bottom, waterlogged, and its edges had been nibbled on by the koi.

That was all those childish dreams were worth: fish food.

* * *

His classmates and teachers all blamed him. His friends had abandoned him. Once word got around, his future was good as gone.

The soggy notebook in his hands taunted him with blurry ink: Hero Notes for the Future.

“So what…? This is retribution? You’d go this far to ruin me, you little freak?” He growled to the open air. “You had it all planned out. You knew how everyone would react.” Katsuki remembered asking yesterday, if it had been worth it. Now he was seeing firsthand how far the effects of such drastic measures could reach.

His so-called friends jumping ship was the least of it. He always knew they were fair-weather parasites, there to feed off his glory and little else. The moment things go awry, they’re nowhere to be found, and Katsuki, though angry, was not the least bit surprised.

The same with all his classmates. In a single day, the tone switched. One moment, they’re mocking the guy, and the next they’re all pity and fake condolences. Disgusting.

And the eyes. Katsuki was accustomed to attention, but those eyes…every pair stared at him when he entered, all holding the same accusing, aghast look. Surprised, appalled, that he would even show his face again.

“I heard he told him to do it!” From who exactly? There were three people present, besides himself. One wasn’t talking, and the other two haven’t been back to school since! Meaning…

It was just a rumor.

It was nothing more than a convenient conclusion for everyone around him. Toss all the blame on his back and play the sorrowful bystander!

They can play the blame game all they want. He knew the truth!

“The whole class was laughing!”

…I attacked him.

“That useless teacher said nothing!”

I cornered him.

“And after school, it wasn’t just me! Those two, they were mocking him that day!”

They were just following my lead.

“He jumped on his own!”

I told him to do it.

“It’s not my—!”

It’s all my…

Fault.

…Katsuki could practically hear his body being mangled by tires. A heavy, looming sensation of an inevitable impact…any second, it would all hit the fan, and life as he knew it would be over.

All over. The concrete. His shoes. Everything. A fucking bloodbath.

A hot pressure built near his eyes. It was hard to breathe.

What the hell…it wasn’t supposed to be like this. One move, and everything changed. His whole world uprooted and flipped over, because of a pebble.

When he paused, both in his thoughts and his walking, he realized how far he’d gone without knowing. He was by the bridge now, unsure of why he’d even headed this way.

He couldn’t go home. He’d walked out of school without permission.

If his worthless friends were there, they could have at least skipped together. The two of them would laugh behind his back, or to his face if they were feeling brave, and joke about Katsuki breaking out of his goody-two-shoes mentality. They’d suggest some risky activity and he’d scold them about ruining his future. Then, they would end up at the arcade and blow off steam…and about a 1000 yen.

If they weren’t hiding like cowards…

If they were there, with him…

…if Deku wasn’t…if he hadn’t…

“Looks like you picked a bad day to skip class, school boy!”

…huh?

His already constricted lungs became even more so as the slime covered his mouth and nose. The sludge villain began its monologue, revealing its every intention to wear him as a skin suit to skip town.

Katsuki got off a few bursts of his quirk, but nothing worthwhile before it fizzled out.

Why…? Why couldn’t he fight back? Something, besides the suffocation, was sapping his energy, weighing down his limbs, and squandering his will to fight.

Through his blurred vision, he could see the notebook on the ground. For all its wear and tear, it managed to fall open without falling apart, landing fatally on the page with the nerd’s desired hero costume.

“I can still do my best, can’t I?” Only two days ago, the doe-eyed little geek clung to hope.

Before Katsuki finally dashed it to pieces.

The tears spilled from his eyes and he stopped struggling against the monster, “…I’m the worst.”

And the world faded to black.